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Round table on the topic: "Peace, Security and Countering Terror and Organized Crime Today", Sofia, Marinela Hotel, Vitosha Hall, January 13, 2024. (part two)

To a question from Mrs. Elena Yoncheva about the new European migration pact, Mr. Mate stated: "One of the most important points in this new pact is finding a solution for the easy return of migrants to their countries of origin and how to do this immediately on the border. Yes, Europe needs migrants, but not illegal migrants. Issuance of permits to Europe should be done through our embassies, in the countries where the refugees are from, not at the EU border when it is too late. There has always been and will be illegal migration, but now the number of illegal migrants is colossal. They are abusing the European refugee system."

After the discussion on the first topic, Ms. Toshkova gave the floor to Dr. Ely Karmon, senior researcher at the International Counter-Terrorism Institute in Herzliya, Israel, member of the IISC General Assembly. He presented his presentation on the topic: "Israel's war against Hamas in Gaza - from the local to the regional to the global" (the presentation can be seen here).

Mr. Karmon commented the security in the context of the military conflict in Gaza, describing the Hamas attack as "the biggest pogrom against Jews since World War II." This is also the reason why the Israeli government has launched a full-scale war aimed at destroying the military power of Hamas, adding that the events in the Gaza Strip are part of a series of military outbreaks in the region and the world. He described the conflict in Gaza as local, but with the risk of becoming regional. “On October 7. 2023, 3.000 Hamas terrorists broke through the world's most technologically advanced $2 billion fence. They penetrated through 20 places and entered Israeli territory. 22 kibbutzim and 2 towns were almost completely destroyed. From an Israeli perspective, this is a colossal operational and strategic intelligence failure."

Dr. Karmon provided information on the constructed network of tunnels under all of Gaza. The tunnels have a length of nearly 500 km, located not only under the city of Gaza, but under the entire strip. Very well equipped, reminding of the Tel Aviv metro tunnels. Both people and munitions were transported by car in the tunnels. Two rocket factories were found 60 meters underground. This also explains why the Israeli army has been unable to deal with the group in its full-scale war for so long.

Dr. Karmon also drew attention to the situation in the Red Sea and the place of the Houthis in the regional conflict. Their importance to shipping sea routes and military actions by the coalition USA, UK, Egypt, Netherlands and other countries.

In the discussion part after Mr. Karmon's report, Mr. Rumen Petkov emphasized: "The solution to this military conflict is peace and a quick cessation of hostilities. We are extremely disturbed that in the last three months more than 25,000 civilians have been killed in the territory of the Gaza Strip, 7 or 8 thousand of them being children. We categorically express all our outrage at Hezbollah's abhorrent act of terrorism against Israel, pointing that killing people is not an act normal dealing in the twenty-first century!”.

Mr. Aurel Georgescu, who worked as a police attaché of Romania in Bulgaria during the accession processes of the two countries to the EU, commented on the humiliating partial accession to Schengen, pointing out that the technical conditions were met already in 2011. "Romania and Bulgaria are going together in the processes of full accession and that's how it should be, this is a guarantee of success in cooperation," he said. "If we are not together we will not succeed. Our voice would be heard if we had a united opinion on the Schengen area".

According to Mr. Georgescu, the best approach that Bulgaria and Romania can take in their common goal of full Schengen is joint coordination and action. All actions should be politically directed from the largest to the smallest member country of both the Schengen area and the European Union.

In her analysis of the drug environment, the member of EU parliament from the Party of European Socialists (PES) Elena Yoncheva linked drug distribution to geopolitical processes and migration flows, specifically from Afghanistan. Ms. Yoncheva pointed out that 95% of heroin production has been cut in Afghanistan since the arrival of the Taliban there. In Myanmar, Laos and Thailand, however, opium production is expanding. The problem that arises is that after limiting this type of "livelihood", poverty increases very sharply, respectively and the refugee flow as poppy plantations are replaced by other types of agricultural crops, such as wheat and saffron, which are far less profitable. Since the arrival of the Taliban, 600,000 people have left Afghanistan, going to Europe.

            Mr. Rumen Petkov, in his capacity as chairman of the International Institute for Security and Cooperation, highlighted the increased production of synthetic drugs as a substitute for the almost doubled cut of organic drugs. He noted the entry of synthetics into the drug market in Europe, which causes even greater harm to people's health. At the same time, the topic is highly neglected in Europe, including in our country - origin of funds, distribution network and prevention. In this sense, Mr. Petkov predicts a dramatic development of society in Europe, with difficult to prevent consequences. He emphasized the accessible distribution of drugs, as according to statistics in Bulgaria, 27% of youth between the 9th and 12th grades used drugs, and over 50% took drugs in the age range of 15-30 years.

The chairman of the IISC General Assembly also emphasized the American law act, which practically makes the Black Sea an arena of military operations. The document was introduced in the US Senate on March 15 last year under the name "Black Sea Security Act of 2023". Regardless of the fact that the content of the document dramatically diverges from the interests of Europe and Bulgaria, and it is a visible interference in the politics of sovereign states, the topic still does not find a place on the agenda of the European institutions. Petkov insisted to MEP Elena Yoncheva to raise the issue with her colleagues, no matter it is the end of the mandate of the European Parliament.

Ambassador Chavdar Minchev presented a report on the situation in the Balkans, Europe and the world on behalf of the Strategic Institute for National Policies and Ideas. According to Mr. Minchev, an unprecedented rearrangement of forces is being observed in the geostrategic space. Global changes are observed in all spheres. This leads to the conclusion that we are currently in a period of military diplomacy. This diplomacy results in political, humanitarian and demographic risks. According to him, the top winners of the current crises are the USA and China. Among the winners will be Russia. The losers will be Germany and the EU, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, as well as Bulgaria and the countries of the Balkans.

            According to Mr. Minchev, it is time to think about what follows after the end of the conflicts in Ukraine and in the Middle East. The solutions of the great powers for these two conflicts will contribute nothing to security and the building of a better world. In order to normalize the relations between the countries, it is necessary to create a new world order.

"We are in an age of permacrisis - a prolonged period of instability and uncertainty. It is very important to create guidelines for public security and the policy related to its protection." According to Minchev, public and not national security has gained importance. "The extent and intensity of threats creates constant uncertainty in society, which also determines our future. Strengthening public security requires a number of changes in organizational and structural policy architectures.'

According to Minchev, the role of artificial intelligence is very useful and even necessary, especially when it comes to disasters and crisis prevention. The point is that access to such technology is available only to the richest countries, and real crises are mainly felt by the poorest. “As for the political system, it must manage the new dividing lines arising from crises and disasters in the most united way possible. Joining efforts and creating channels of communication between politicians is a sure path to follow."

At the end of the round table, the floor was given to Mrs. Vaska Penkova, who announced that all presentations and reports presented at the forum will be published on the IISC website and made available for publication through the courtesy of the National Association for International Relations (NAIR ).

After the forum, which was evaluated by the attendees as extremely useful and fruitful, journalists were invited to ask their questions at the organized press conference.

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