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Friday, 22 October 2021 13:16

The Euro-Atlantic Council of North Macedonia, in cooperation with the Atlantic Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina, organized an Advanced Research Workshop (ARW) supported by the NATO SPS program entitled: "Practical Applications of Advanced Technologies for Enhancing Security and Defense Capabilities: Perspectives and Challenges for Western Balkans”.


Due to the COVID - 19 restrictions, the workshop was held in hybrid format with the physical presence of the core team at Hotel “Sileks” in Ohrid and lectures held entirely online, from 14 to 17 October 2021.

The primary purpose of this ARW was to explore primary applications of advanced technology (including artificial intelligence and autonomous technology) for security and defense purposes; to raise awareness and understanding among key stakeholders about the practical potentials and key implementation challenges of advanced technology, with the ultimate goal of strengthening the security systems in the Western Balkans, as well as laying the foundations for regional cooperation between public institutions, academia and the private sector.

The event consisted of lectures and discussion sessions conceived as a workshop with a moderator. In this regard, the event brought together 15 speakers who are well-known experts and connoisseurs in the field of technical and social sciences, who on this occasion addressed the latest trends, as well as technical, strategic and legal aspects of new and innovative technology. The event was attended by more than 60 participants from NATO member states and two NATO PfP countries.

Co-directors of this event were Mr. Ilija Djugumanov, Secretary General of ATA North Macedonia and Dr. Dijana Gupta, President of the Atlantic Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The official opening and the 4 day long ARW was moderated by the project Co-Director, Mr. Ilija Djugumanov, Secretary General of the Euro-Atlantic Council of North Macedonia. As a NPD co-director of the event, Mr. Djugumanov started with introductory remarks and emphasized the importance of the cooperation (especially regional). As he said, there are numerous challenges for the military leadership in the Western Balkan countries in the context of the rapid developments that require important steps by NATO and partner countries in adjusting their capacities to the demands of the new security reality.


The event began with a video address by the Prime Minister of the Republic of North Macedonia, Mr. Zoran Zaev. He stressed the importance of strengthening the country's security capacity, as well as the need to apply advanced technologies in protection against hybrid threats. The Prime Minister added that it is very important to work actively in this area for greater security in the region.

Mr. James Appathurai, NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs, and Mr. Ismet Ramadani, President of the Euro-Atlantic Council of North Macedonia, also had video address for the event.


Mr. Apparthurai stressed that NATO will take bold steps in adopting a coherent strategy regarding the use of technologies to protect the security of its member states. Among other, Apparthurai pointed out that the NATO "Science for Peace and Security" program is a proof of NATO's commitment to science.


In his video address, Mr. Ramadani emphasized that the Euro-Atlantic Council of North Macedonia has been working for many years to promote Euro-Atlantic values. He explained why this advanced workshop is a good opportunity to learn about new technologies and modern challenges. He also pointed out that it is a real pleasure to hear lectures from eminent experts, such as those present at this workshop.

The lectures were announced by the Head of the NATO SPS Program, Dr. Deniz Beten. In this regard, Ms. Beten announced the establishment of a new strategic concept in all areas until the next NATO Summit. This strategic concept will place a strong emphasis on science, as well as promoting scientific research, said Dr. Beten.


The first lecture was given by the Head of the NATO Data Policy Department, Dr. Nikolaos Loutas, who referred to NATO's approach to the use of artificial intelligence and information research. In this regard, Mr. Loutas clarified the strategy for "Emerging and Disruptive Technology". Loutas explained the importance of "Defense Invitation - Accelerator for the North Atlantic (DIANA)" and its importance for greater cooperation between NATO and the private sector, NGOs and other institutions involved in scientific research.


The next lecturer was Brigadier General Dr. Metodi Hadji - Janev from the Military Academy "General Mihajlo Apostolski" from Skopje. He spoke about the political and strategic views on the impact of artificial intelligence on military-political leadership and decision-makers. Among other things, Hadji Janev referred to the digital transformation caused by new technologies and their impact on societies.


Major Dan Osborne, from U.S. Army National Security Division, spoke on the legal and ethical aspects of the use of autonomous weapons and artificial intelligence. He gave a detailed explanation of the technical aspects of the aforementioned strategy.


The representative of the European Parliament, Ms. Martina Hesse spoke about the development of autonomous technologies and the challenges, but also the opportunities for the countries of the Western Balkans in this direction. She pointed out that work is already underway to develop additional legislation within the EU, and that NATO is working closely with the Union to regulate the use of artificial intelligence.


The Dean of the Military Academy "General Mihajlo Apostolski" Skopje, Prof. Dr. Mitko Bogdanoski spoke about the abuse of modern technologies and artificial intelligence for strategic purposes. He explained the dependence on electronic devices and the danger of cyber-attacks, which he said could do the most harm to society. Bogdanoski also noted that China and Russia want to show that not only can they deal with such cyber-attacks, but that they have the capacity to carry out such attacks, unlike the United States, which does not use cyberspace for such attacks.


Ms. Ann Valiataga of the NATO CCD COE, spoke about the correlation between available cyber capabilities and autonomous systems, as well as the challenges and obstacles that exist in that direction.


Mr. Alan Brill, Senior CEO and Founder of Kroll, had a lecture in the direction of what could go wrong in the application and practice of technologies with artificial intelligence. Brill cited a number of examples that have been applied and that may prove to be successful, but also examples that have shown failure.


The next lecture was by Mr. Ashok Vaseashta, Principal Investigator and President of the Clearwater Institute, USA and Professor at the Technical University of Riga and the University of Transylvania in Brashov. Vaseashta spoke about machine learning and the use of advanced technologies in strengthening cyber protection capabilities. He pointed out that now the "battlefield" is multi-domain, and stressed the great importance of the need for strong physical infrastructure needed for information technologies and their importance in the social domain.


The second day of the ARW finished with a lecture by Dr. Alan Brill, Senior Managing Director & Founder, Cyber Risk Practice, Kroll & Adjunct Professor, Texas A&M University School of Law on “The Evolution of Hybrid Cyber Attacks: Realities and Reactions”. During his second lecture, Dr. Brill said that assuming that focusing the attention on the public sector will gain the most intelligence on cyber threats is shortsighted, since the public sector depends on the private sector as suppliers in communication, transportation and finance.


On the third day, Brigadier General Dr. Metodi Hadzi Janev addressed the challenges in international law in the use of autonomous technologies and autonomous weapon systems in his lecture.


Mr. Jason Wiseman, Member of the European Parliament, gave a lecture on the perspectives of public-private partnerships in the development of artificial intelligence. Wiseman also explained the EU's approach to the public sector in the use of artificial intelligence in defense, as well as the European Commission's strategy on artificial intelligence. He pointed out that the European Commission in the next period will place even greater emphasis on "public-private" cooperation in the development of artificial technologies.


Ms. Annette Numa from E-Estonia spoke about Estonia's experiences in the digitalization process, the use of artificial intelligence and cooperation between the public and private sectors. She explained how in Estonia the emphasis is on professional development and training, computer and internet policy for everyone, the simplified procedure for starting a company, the use of artificial intelligence in government services, etc.


Dr. Laura Pittman, of the Dominion University School of Cyber Security, closed the workshop with her lecture during which she spoke of the conflict between legal and ethical aspects in the use of artificial intelligence in hybrid warfare. Pittman pointed to many cases where there was a traditional use of artificial intelligence in hybrid attacks, but also referred to the conduct of non-traditional war, diplomatic problems that have arisen or will arise, as well as problems arising from retaliation.

The last day of this workshop was dedicated to summarizing the work done and awarding Acknowledgments and Certificates to the speakers and participants.