Interview with Beyond the Horizon
Last month, we had a meeting with the Think-tank Beyond the horizon, here is the transcription of our interview.
Your think-tank, Beyond the Horizon, a few days ago, organized an event for your first year of existence. What is your feedback about it?
We should actually rephrase the question. It has been about a year since we have been established. For the latter part of your question, a think-and-do tank, as we call it now based on the fact that we start to get projects, needs some time to properly and efficiently to operate.
We got really good feedbacks about the event. The speakers were all leading figures in their fields and the debate was really in-depth and fruitful. We got many “post-event thank you emails” and feedbacks from distinguished attendees, I mean from NATO, the EU, diplomatic missions, universities, research centres, media, and business world as well. This really encourages and empowers us to achieve our professional goals and improve our products, personal and institutional engagement plans.
The creation of a project is always full of twists, what can you tell us about the genesis of Beyond the Horizons?
Yes, it is an interesting story. Building a think tank where I could use my experience in security and diplomacy was actually an idea that I was passionate about for years. Then I saw the same passion among other friends with academical credentials and field experience in defence and security. We came many times together to discuss how it would evolve, how it would fit into the big picture in the wider settings in Europe and abroad, how we would connect to other scholars and practitioners across the globe. Questions like, if it would be a profit or non-profit organization or what rights would the members have, what should our focus areas be, were critical in defining our way ahead. Answering and deciding on those questions really took some time. As what we wanted to achieve became clear enough, we started the implementation phase officially in January 2018. Looking behind, I could say we have performed well.
We have used this first year to define our modus operandi, our research areas, our networks and our face, I mean our webpage. Thanks to the dedication of our team, we have become unique in some of the products we offer. Crisis watch can be cited as the most important of those. Each week, we present an update to our followers on the previous week’s events and an assessment. Those areas include Syria, Yemen, Libya, Ukraine and Afghanistan. We also deliver a crisis watch map and an assessment on key maritime regions. Especially those following find them especially beneficial in two ways. First, they keep them updated on the latest situation. Second for those writing reports or papers, they constitute an archive easy to get back and see.
We also have a quarterly journal with a strong editorial board. So far, we have published three issues and the fourth is on preparation phase. Our team also prepares an international organization watch. Our team of experts with background in both organizations prepare weekly updates keeping the pulse of both NATO and EU. We will hopefully add UN and OSCE soon.
Lastly, we prepare a mini world tour with our Horizon Weekly page, providing a weekly tour about key strategic events on select countries in the world of interest.
Those all add up to research and commentaries we post on our website and events like the one you mentioned. And it has just been a year, which I could label as a golden one.
I can definitely say that Beyond the Horizon is now at its “Full Operational Capability”, ready to accomplish the missions stated in its statute. And our latest annual event was just a testimony to that both for us and for those who are following us.
Could you, please, explain to me the guideline of your organization?
Maybe before answering this question, we need to say several things as a scene setter. Beyond the Horizon, is a “free”, I am underlining this word, free or “non-partisan” think tank. We do not have financiers or political backers. So, while writing we have no second thoughts. We finance our institute by the projects we take which enables us to protect editorial independence.
Getting back to your question, there are several principles, if you may, that guide our actions. The first is certainly ingrained in our motto: “Promoting global peace and security”. It is kind of the first filter on anything our institution has to deal with.
Our aim is to help reverse today’s malicious trends and build a secure and stable setting at all levels -human, society, state and international-. Our goals are to empower decision and policy makers; advocate paths to build a better world; and prevent, mitigate or end crisis and conflict.
To that end, I want to mention some of the biggest challenges of our time on which we try to focus our attention: The return of political warfare in line with diffusion of power; growing demand for food, water, and energy; erosion of democracy; protracted wars and conflicts; and cross-cutting networks and ad-hoc alliances among actors at all levels reveal that “humanity at risk” in an unregulated, exclusive and fragmented world. Alarmingly, these emerging challenges have become more complex and prolonged, involving more states, non-states, private and hybrid actors. This has given impetus to understand how we could initiate a process that melds more security providers into a regulated and coordinated security architecture in the future.
Another principle is to help solve the real-world problems. We want to stay relevant. In this regard, as an independent voice, we are determined to be a unique think and do tank with a special focus on realistic policies and in-depth analyses to offer comprehensive solutions and inclusive approaches to decision and policy-makers, academics, planners, practitioners in international security and external affairs circles.
Your team is internationally motley, who are they, how have you composed it?
Our team has a multi-layered structure. We have a core team, which has field experience in multinational working environments such as NATO and the EU and academic background as well. This core team deals with in-house capabilities for research, field studies, projects and day to day tasks. Surrounding this core, we have a wide range of network of experts and practitioners across the globe that we collaborate with. Our editorial board consists of many academicians of various backgrounds who are renowned in their respective expertise areas that makes up our multicultural, interdisciplinary, inclusive, and comprehensive approaches.
This lasts years; we have seen an explosion of appeal around your kind of organizations. Do you explain it?
That is understandable. As it was reflected in the subject of our latest symposium, the liberal world order is declining. The problems we are facing are becoming more numerous and more complex. What is more tackling all those problems require international cooperation which is not in place based on multiple reasons any more. Moreover, in the last few years Europe realized it needs to build a much more robust security apparatus independent of the US, which requires a lot of brainpower. So, these institutions provide insight and fresh ideas for practitioners and policymakers, what is more, in most cases they provide a big picture by coordinating the issues from their ends. It is a win-win situation or win-win-win as they say in French.
What is your objective for the next years?
Our first aim is to become a unique and credible voice in Europe as a think and do thank. This means having outstanding in-house capabilities and ability to provide insight and sound advice. Secondly, we want to become a training and consultancy institution. Based on our areas of expertise, we aim at providing consultancy and training services especially in defence and security. Our vision is to be recognized as a centre of excellence for the delivery of vocational, professional and skill development qualifications to learners and clients across the globe. We have two main target audience; one is mid-senior level professionals at defence and security establishments, the other is CEOs and senior managers in business world.
Furthermore, we plan to engage specific projects at national and international level, such as preventing and countering youth radicalization in Europe and pan-European integration. Lastly, we want to contribute positively to the political discussions through events. Next year we are planning to organize panels, workshops, conferences, and conclude 2019 with a summit on “Future of the Transatlantic Defence Industrial Cooperation” in June. At this summit, we plan to gather key actors and figures from NATO, the EU, governments, private sector in defence industry, and academia. I believe that in collaboration with Premium Concept, we will make this summit a great success.