2/2023 - ATLANTIS

The second issue of 2023 continues the series of covers dedicated to the main future geostrategic themes. In this case, migrations without neglecting to focus attention on the consequences of Russia's aggression against Ukraine in February 2022.
On the cover, an image that evokes the delicate theme of travel, change, uprooting, osmosis between different populations and cultures.
Ample space for the third edition of the International Festival of European Geopolitics which, after the first two editions held in Jesolo, has landed in Venice to make it a hub of geopolitical reflection and multidisciplinary analyzes in terms of international affairs.
For the attention of the reader one of the Diplomatic dialogues, edited by the Circle of Diplomatic Studies, a vital subject for the realization of the festival, like the Italian office of the Council of Europe.
The contributions of Eleonora Lorusso, the valid presenter of the International Festival of European Geopolitics and Domenico Letizia are always appreciated.
The collaboration with Sconfinare continues.
Finally, the festival concluded the first edition of the training cycle for the last two years of high school for schools in the Veneto region which was carried out on an experimental basis in this school year 2022/23 but which will be completed in the near future .


Editorial - ATLANTIS

European Population Decline and South-North and East-West Migrations: Anthropological, Political, Religious, Cultural and Geopolitical Impacts to 2050

Population decline in Europe is a phenomenon that has taken hold over the last few decades, characterized by a constant decrease in the population and its ageing. This demographic decline, combined with climate change, economic differences and job opportunities, has had and will continue to have a significant impact on the European continent and on migrations in a South-North and East-West direction.

Climate Change and Migrations
Climate change is a key factor that will influence migrations in the near future. Global warming and environmental disasters can cause population movements in search of refuge and better living conditions. Regions hit by extreme weather events such as droughts, floods or rising sea levels could become increasingly unlivable, prompting people to migrate to more stable and safe areas.

Economic differences and job opportunities
Economic differences between different regions of the world will continue to be a major factor driving people to migrate. Western Europe and other developed countries offer a high quality of life, job opportunities and a well-structured social system, appealing to those seeking better economic prospects and greater stability.
However, economic disparities between Western European countries and those of Eastern Europe or regions of the Global South could accentuate migratory flows. The gap between wealth and poverty could be a determining factor in driving migration to more prosperous countries.
Anthropological, Political, Religious and Cultural impacts to 2050
Europe's demographic decline will have a profound impact on various aspects of European society. One of the most evident changes will be the aging of the population, with a consequent increase in the dependence of the elderly on the active workforce. This could put a strain on health and social care systems, requiring reform of public policies and pensions.
Politically, Europe could be subject to internal and external pressure. Increased migration could fuel feelings of xenophobia and nationalism, leading to social and political tensions. At the same time, geopolitical dynamics could push for greater cooperation between European countries to address challenges related to immigration and climate change.
On the religious and cultural front, demographic decline and immigration could lead to a diversification of national identities and cultural traditions. Social cohesion may be tested, but at the same time, cultural diversity can enrich European society, contributing to greater open-mindedness and cultural exchange.

Geopolitical Balance and Ideological Opposition
To 2050, it is likely that we will continue to see a contrast between countries adopting a democratic and liberal model of governance and those governed by autocratic regimes. A West made up of Europe, Great Britain, the United States, Canada, Latin America, Japan, Israel, Australia and New Zealand could seek to maintain and promote democratic values and human rights globally.
On the other hand, countries with autocratic ideologies could exert an increasing influence on the geopolitical arena. This juxtaposition could lead to tensions and conflicts, but also to forms of cooperation and negotiation especially on the part of the main actor, China when it will be cornered by the lack of privileged status (developing country) and will have finished the bonus as a country stealing Western scientific and technological knowledge as well as being forced into equal economic competition.

Environmental Policies
Environmental policies will be a central element in determining the future of the European continent and of migration. The fight against climate change and the transition to sustainable energy sources could have a significant impact on reducing forced migration linked to environmental disasters.
At the same time, Western countries' environmental policies could influence geopolitical relations, determining the degree of cooperation and bilateral agreements with countries that have strategic natural resources.

The European demographic decline and South-North and East-West migrations represent a complex mix of challenges and opportunities. While climate change, economic differences and job opportunities will continue to shape migration flows, the anthropological, political, religious, cultural and geopolitical impacts by 2050 will be significant.
Addressing these challenges will require a global vision and international cooperation to ensure adequate management of migration flows, the promotion of human rights and the protection of the environment. Only through a shared strategy will it be possible to create a sustainable and fair future for Europe and the whole world.




The NATO summit in Vilnius and its outcomes: a reflection

by Gabriele Checchia

No more headline news, it is perhaps now possible, a few days after its development, to try to draw the first conclusions on the geo-political level of the NATO summit held in Vilnius on 11 and 12 July.
Certainly one of the most important of recent years if only for the moment in which it took place: just over 500 days after the beginning of the Russian aggression on Ukraine and while there are still no glimmers for the start of a peace negotiation (despite the commitment of important and well-intentioned actors such as the Holy See, most recently through the mission of Cardinal Zuppi in Kyiv and then in Moscow).

I will try to do so by dwelling on what appear to me to be the 5 fundamental aspects - and of more marked political value - of the recently concluded Summit and the events that accompanied it (starting with the almost simultaneous meeting, again in the Lithuanian capital, of the G7 leader): 1) the issue of Ukraine joining NATO; 2) the security guarantees offered to Kyiv precisely by the G7 Heads of State and Government; 3) the detailed 360-degree defense plans (as strongly desired by our country, in the name of a NATO that does not only look at the threats, albeit serious ones, coming from the east) developed by the military leaders of the Alliance and endorsed in Vilnius; 4) the attention to be paid to the southern flank of the Alliance and related challenges (once again in line with the expectations repeatedly expressed in this regard by our country); 5) the go-ahead from the Turkish side for Sweden to join NATO even if (as it seemed to understand from subsequent statements by President Erdogan) in all probability not before next October, having to take into account the times that will be necessary for the presidential go-ahead to be ratified by the Grand Assembly (the Turkish Parliament).
All against the background of the decision - adopted by the Atlantic Council practically on the eve of the Summit - to extend the mandate of the Norwegian Jens Stoltenberg as Secretary General of the Organization for another year (given the difficulty of identifying, an even more delicate aspect in such a critical moment of the confrontation with Moscow, another important name capable of garnering the consensus of the 31 member States).

The question of the accession of Ukraine
It is the point that was believed, until the eve, could make the difference between the success and failure of the Summit if a formula was not found capable of satisfying at the same time the expectations of Kyiv and of the allies who most pushed for entry in tight and well-defined times (primarily Poland and the three Baltic Republics but also, albeit in a less assertive way, France and the United Kingdom) and those of the more cautious allies in this regard.
Starting (in addition to Scholz's Germany) with the United States, understandably fearful of the traumatic effects that an invitation to Kyiv to join could have had on relations between the Alliance and the Russian Federation with the conflict still ongoing and the risk of seeing NATO dragged, pursuant to Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, into a direct confrontation with Moscow with unpredictable and potentially tremendous consequences.
The solution found seems to me the most reasonable and able to avoid dangerous accelerations without, at the same time, arousing in the Ukrainian side (and in the allies more inclined to an immediate entry of Kyiv) insurmountable feelings of irritation and disappointment.
Ukraine will be invited - states paragraph 11 of the conclusions - to join NATO "when the Allies agree and when the conditions are met". This is a phase that deliberately leaves the times, ways and procedures of future membership vague.
But which allows, on the one hand, the Atlantic leaders to cover the persistent differences of views precisely on times, methods and procedures; on the other, to reaffirm to Ukraine, in the struggle for its sovereignty and independence, strong and convinced political and military support from the Alliance.
The future of Ukraine lies in NATO, the Communiqué continues, and the 31 allies do not fail in the context of reiterating "the unshakeable solidarity with the Ukrainian government and people in the heroic defense of their nation, their territory and our common values".
It is therefore - beyond the initial disappointment of Zelensnky who later returned after a clarifying conversation with President Biden - a decidedly more explicit and supportive language than that contained in this regard in the conclusions of the 2008 Bucharest summit (in which only future membership of Ukraine and Georgia was promised). And of a signal of closeness further strengthened by two other distinctive traits of the Vilnius conclusions: the first represented by the fact that they drop the requirement of the "Membership Action Plan" for Ukraine as an inescapable first step for membership, thus effectively putting Kyiv's entry into the Alliance on a fast track; the second from the creation, decided in Vilnius, of a NATO-Ukraine Council which can be activated at any moment and which held its first meeting on the second day of the summit. Council which (in a manner not unlike the provisions of Article 4 of the Treaty establishing the Member States) will in fact allow the Ukrainian leadership to request, at any time, consultations with the allies on all security issues, even beyond those connected to the ongoing conflict.
Then there is, further reason for comfort for Kyiv, the very firm language adopted by the Communiqué towards the Russian Federation (which is defined as "the most serious and direct threat to the security of the Allies and to the peace and stability of the Euro-Atlantic area") as well as - as specified by Stoltenberg in the press conference - the package of aid and political support offered to Ukraine by the allies "which is unprecedented even at the time of the cold war".
Just think, in the words of the Secretary General, "of the multi-year assistance plan of 500 million euros a year to modernize the Ukrainian armed forces making them fully interoperable with the Atlantic ones". Nor, I add, should the commitments of bilateral military aid be forgotten (such as those of further tanks and long-range missiles announced precisely in Vilnius by France, Germany and Norway).
In essence, as Sergio Fabbrini observes in his valuable editorial in "Il Sole 24 Ore", this time - unlike what happened last year in Madrid - "no Head of Government (not even the Turkish Recep Tayip Erdogan) has shown that he has doubts about the nature of the Russian regime, aggressive and imperialist due to its endogenous dynamics and not as a reaction to exogenous challenges".
That the formula contained in the conclusions of the summit is in the end a good compromise is also admitted by the Estonian premier Kaja Kallas, the leader of those who would have liked precise deadlines and rapid times for accession, who expressed herself as follows: "I understand Zelensky's disappointment but there is a clear desire to have Ukraine in NATO”.

The G7 aid package
In "a side game" with the Alliance - and confirming the cohesion on the Ukraine issue and on the containment of Russian aggression - the meeting in G7 format held on the sidelines of the Atlantic summit allowed the "control room" of the global West to also contribute to reassuring Kyiv on the depth and quality of our countries' commitment in favor of the Ukrainian cause.
I spoke for the G7 of a "side game with NATO" and of a "control room" of the global West but it would perhaps be more appropriate to consider it now (and the fact that it met during the Vilnius summit confirms this) as the primary political - and economic when necessary - instance of the countries that make up the heart of the Western alliance.
It is the main discussion forum, which can be activated at any time according to needs, their interests in all strategic sectors and under any profile.
With a NATO confirmed (and which I would say emerges further strengthened and cohesive from the Vilnius summit) in the function of irreplaceable defensive political-military alliance, with the possibility of widening - where appropriate - the sphere of interest and monitoring, in consultation with the relevant partners from time to time, to geo-political areas that can also go beyond the Euro-Atlantic perimeter in the strict sense.
To return to the decisions taken in Vilnius in the G7 format, the final communiqué of the instance in question reads: “We reaffirm our unwavering commitment to the goal of a free, independent, democratic and sovereign Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders and capable of defending itself and deterring future aggression. We affirm that the security of Ukraine is an integral part of the security of the Euro-Atlantic region." Language, therefore, could not be more explicit which is added to the aforementioned signals of closeness to the attacked Ukraine offered by the allies at the summit.
Among the security guarantees - which certainly contributed in no small way to reducing Zelensky's initial expressions of frustration - the G7 envisages "modern military equipment in the land, air and sea domains, giving priority (in line with Kyiv's well-known expectations) to air defense, long-range artillery, armored vehicles and other key capabilities such as combat aviation". As well as, the document continues, "support for the development of the Ukrainian industrial base in the defense sector and the training of Ukrainian forces as well as intelligence sharing".
If this is not cooperation comparable in intensity and quality to that underway between the member states of the Alliance, we are certainly very close…
Significantly, however - also to take into account the perplexities about the quality of the "governance" that has always characterized Ukraine, present in non-secondary sectors of US (especially in the Republican) and European public opinion - the G7 underlines that the support in question is linked to precise political conditions. He therefore asks Kyiv to continue "in the implementation of reforms relating, among other things, to the judicial system, the fight against corruption and freedom of the media". Kyiv must continue, it is stated, in reforming the defense "also by strengthening civilian and democratic control of the armed forces”.
The defense plans of the Alliance at 360 degrees
But, as mentioned, the Vilnius summit (in many ways epochal) was not only dedicated to Ukraine. For the first time since the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the USSR, NATO has in fact equipped itself with a detailed plan that ensures its collective military defense against the attack of a major power like Russia or a terrorist threat.
Drawn up by General Christopher Cavoli, supreme commander of NATO (SACEUR) and of the American forces stationed in Europe, together with his staff, the plans (naturally classified) cover the three main areas over which the responsibility of the Atlantic Pact extends: the northern territory including the Arctic (increasingly destined to become the new frontier of the confrontation between the Russian-Chinese authoritarian axis and the western one); the central regions which include the eastern flank, i.e. the border with Russia, and the south-east which includes the Mediterranean as well as the Black Sea.
As specified by the Head of the NATO Military Committee, Admiral Rob Bauer, "the three regional plans explain what the allies must do, given the geographical characteristics of each area, to dissuade and defend the Euro-Atlantic space in every field (we are, therefore, always in a logic of deterrence, with all due respect to those who continue to speak of an aggressive NATO): space, land, sea, air and cyber".
When the new plans are fully implemented, the Alliance will be able to mobilize more than 100,000 soldiers in less than 10 days and up to 300,000 in a month, Bauer continues. Obviously this is not without costs, so much so that in Vilnius the target of 2% of GDP for defense expenditure - set at the Celtic Manor summit in 2014 - becomes a basis from which to start and no longer the ceiling to be reached.
Of course, it remains to be seen whether, given the current financial situation of many European allies, this is a realistic goal.
Attention to the south flank
The confirmation of the Alliance's attention also to the challenges coming from the southern flank is another of the important data that emerged from the summit that has just ended and is in line with our expectations.
It found expression not only in the aforementioned inclusion of the Mediterranean chessboard among those at the center of the Allied defense plans that I mentioned above but also in the fact that the Allies highlighted, in the conclusions of the Summit, that "the interconnected security, demographic, economic and political challenges in the southern neighborhood are aggravated by the impact of climate change, the fragility of institutions, the health emergency and food insecurity".
This makes the region, it is noted, a fertile ground for armed groups, terrorist organizations, and for "destabilizing and coercive interference by strategic competitors" (the relevant paragraph of the Communiqué explicitly mentions Russia as a "destabilizing factor and fueler of tensions in the area" but it is likely that with the expression "strategic competitors" the allies also wanted to refer, albeit indirectly, to the pervasive Chinese presence on the African continent).
For all these reasons, and this is the most innovative data to emerge on the subject from Vilnius, the Heads of State and Government "have mandated the Atlantic Council to initiate a comprehensive and in-depth reflection on existing and emerging threats and challenges as well as on opportunities for engagement with our partners, international organizations and other relevant actors in the region, to be presented at the next summit in 2024".
The road has therefore been traced (and it is no small thing) even if the basic discussion is postponed to the Washington summit when NATO will celebrate its 75th anniversary.
And next year, it is worth noting, the presidency of the G7 will go to our country, which has the area of greatest strategic interest precisely in the southern neighbourhood. And it will in all likelihood be precisely the attention to the "global South" that will characterize the next G7 summit under the Italian presidency on a geo-political level compared, for example, to the one held this year in Hiroshima.
There are those who argue that, with reference to the southern flank, even more could have been achieved in Vilnius. However, I believe, given the continuing gravity and urgency of the Ukrainian crisis, that our government and our diplomacy have done well and that more could hardly have been achieved.
and to the Indo-Pacific…
Attention to the Indo-Pacific and the Chinese challenge is the other dossier that could not fail to appear, in this case in continuity with the conclusions of the Madrid summit, in the final communiqué of the Vilnius summit.
Also this time there are severe expressions - but be careful not to completely break ties - against Beijing and its "coercive policies". This, in confirmation of the above, is the text of the relevant paragraph of the Conclusions: "The declared ambitions of the PRC and its coercive policies present a challenge to our security, our interests and our values. We remain open to constructive interaction with the People's Republic of China also as regards building mutual transparency, with the aim of safeguarding the security interests of the Alliance…".
Against this background, not by chance (as in Madrid), the Prime Ministers of the so-called "Indo-Pacific four": Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea were once again invited to Vilnius. A format that appears destined to become a constant in NATO leadership.
As proof of the growing weight assumed by the quadrant in the inter-allied debate in question, the Indo-Pacific is explicitly mentioned in the conclusions of the summit in the following terms: "The Indo-Pacific is important for NATO, given that developments in that region can directly affect Euro-Atlantic security". A concept that Stoltenberg effectively summarized as follows: "Security is not a regional but a global issue".
However, it remains to be decided whether - as more or less explicitly desired by the United States and the United Kingdom - we should move towards a NATO that effectively extends its area of responsibility beyond the Atlantic perimeter or rather, and more simply, towards a NATO more attentive to the Indo-Pacific dynamics and to cooperation with partners in the region without this having to imply, in itself, a greater and more constant and structured presence in the area.
Our country and the majority of European allies, France in primis, are inspired by this last line that I share (that is, that of a NATO with a global approach and not a global NATO).
It is no coincidence that Macron opposed the opening of an Alliance office in Tokyo in Vilnius, arguing that "the Indo-Pacific is not the North Atlantic". He distanced himself from the proposal of the Secretariat which in all probability will not allow the creation of the office in question.

Some remarks on the results achieved in the Lithuanian capital by Italy.
In my opinion, our country and our Prime Minister can be legitimately satisfied (as President Meloni did) with the outcome of the two-day meeting in Vilnius.
The objectives that were most dear to us have in fact all been achieved: from the reaffirmation of Atlantic cohesion and solidarity, first of all on the crucial side of support for Ukraine in the face of the brutal aggression of Putin's Russia, to the reaffirmed Allied attention also to the challenges coming from the southern flank, to the recognition of the centrality of the Mediterranean arena for the fight against terrorism and the criminal networks that thrive on human trafficking.
In essence, a confirmation has come out of Vilnius of that NATO capable of exercising defense and dissuasion/deterrence at 360 degrees that Italy has always supported.
As far as our Prime Minister in particular is concerned, the reasons for satisfaction are certainly accentuated by the positive outcome of the important side talks that the Summit allowed him to have.
From the wide-ranging one with President Biden (who formalized his invitation to Giorgia Meloni to visit the White House on July 27); to the one with Erdogan (who invited her to Ankara), which allowed the two leaders to linger in a constructive climate on the many topics of common interest, (starting with the fight against terrorism and the stabilization of Libya and the North African and sub-Saharan area object of the persistent Russian and Wagner aims); to the one with the British counterpart Rishi Sunak.
The latter meeting which allowed the two heads of government, who maintain excellent relations, to also take stock of the progress of the Italian-British-Japanese sixth generation fighter aircraft project in the context of the "Global combat air program" (Gcap).
Lastly, to return to the summit, and in conclusion, the irritated reaction of Moscow to its outcome and above all to the fact that, even after Vilnius, the door for future accession of Kyiv (pursuant to and in the manner provided for by Article 10 of the Washington Treaty) remains open was, in many ways, taken for granted.
Ukraine's entry into NATO, Putin said on the sidelines of a technology conference held in Moscow, "represents a threat to the security of the Russian Federation and will not improve that of Ukraine. One of the reasons for the special operation is precisely the threat that Ukraine will join NATO". A reaction therefore that adds nothing to the overall equation.
Equally predictable is the conviction renewed by Biden in Helsinki - on the occasion of the Summit with his Nordic counterparts (Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Iceland) immediately following that of Vilnius - according to which "Putin has already lost the war in Ukraine, which I don't think can continue for years since Moscow cannot keep it forever from a political and economic point of view".
A conviction to which he combined the hope that the Kyiv counter-offensive "will push Moscow to negotiate", and the certainty that Moscow will abstain in any case from resorting to nuclear weapons ("there is no prospect of Putin using nuclear weapons").
In reality, no one can know what turn events will take, also because the Kyiv counter-offensive, in the light of what is known, is unfortunately struggling to get off the ground.
If I may, against this background, formulate a hope, it is that the trust placed by Biden in the reasonableness, albeit short-term, of Russian behavior (Putin's in particular ..) is destined, sooner or later, to find confirmation in the facts. But I don't feel like I can be certain on the matter….



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