The first decade of the new millennium saw fundamental alterations in the power constellation of international actors. These changes have already affected Europe and will influence opportunities to establish a peace and security order for the whole of Europe in the future. New challenges arose in autumn 2014, adding to an interwoven complex of diverse regional and international factors that are becoming increasingly difficult to disentangle. In addition, conflicts in Europe and its vicinity have unleashed tendencies towards re-nationalisation, which threaten the very existence of the European integration process.
Paradoxically, the end of the bipolar system – the withdrawal of post-Soviet Russia as an actor in Europe as well as internationally – coincided with the destabilisation of regions in Africa, the Middle East, and the Near East. While interstate wars are more or less the exception nowadays, ethnic, religious, and separatist clashes among warlords, oppositional movements, and corrupt administrations dominate the scene. The threats have changed and, due to the ongoing processes of globalisation, these conflicts are more complex and multilayered, combining regional causes with external actors. As a result, international institutions are often neither willing nor able to intervene. As the present conflicts in the Ukraine and in Syria demonstrate, there is a constant risk that such conflicts may spill over and cause crises in the international system. Furthermore, if multinational interventions are agreed, they tend to reflect the patterns of the old bipolar world. Thus they confer more legitimacy on the intervening actors, because particular national interests are more difficult to detect and domestic opposition to such interventions can be more effectively silenced.
In light of the complex situation we are facing, especially in Europe and among its neighbours, we need to explore practical steps that could be consolidated into a road map to achieve a peaceful, cooperative Europe. This one-day conference in Berlin analysed ideas and debated concepts that Europe might take up to map a way out of the present crisis.