On September 29, the Eastern Europe Studies Centre hosted its traditional “Coffee and International Politics” roundtable discussion, during which author Vida Mačikėnaitė-Ambutavičienė presented her study “Indo-Pacific Cooperation with European NATO Countries: Security Partnership Initiatives and Perspectives”. The discussion focused on the challenges facing the region and the potential for deeper cooperation between like-minded countries.
The discussion revolved around developments in security policy in the Indo-Pacific over the last few years, with a particular focus on the Japanese perspective. Japan’s concept of a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” has become one of the country’s main tools to enhance security and defence cooperation and to reduce China’s influence in the region. In recent years, the concept has evolved to include greater cooperation in space, cybersecurity and disinformation with like-minded countries – in particular the UK, France, Germany, but also other NATO countries in Europe. It was stressed that Lithuania could use its potential to provide expertise in the fields of cyber security and disinformation in order to develop bilateral and multilateral (mainly through NATO) cooperation with the region.
The panel discussed in detail China’s role, its economic influence and the ways in which European countries can reduce China’s influence and long-term threat in the Indo-Pacific region. It was stressed that the West, and European countries in particular, should make a clear distinction between Russia and China as posing different challenges and therefore requiring different tools and ways of dealing with them. As regards cooperation between NATO and EU countries with the countries of the region, the discussion participants stressed the need to maintain existing bilateral and multilateral partnerships and to create new ones (e.g. with countries such as the Philippines or Vietnam), as well as to develop areas of cooperation with a focus not only on traditional security threats, but also on emerging new ones in the cyber, information and space domains.