Interview with dr. Zlatogor MINCHEV
Vasile SIMILEANU: After the fall of the Berlin Wall, geopolitics began to emerge as a science in its own right in some Eastern European countries. Within this framework, Romanian geopolitics, initiated by geopolitician Ion Conea and sociologist Anton Golopenţia, attempted a revival through the GeoPolitica journal. For our readers, please tell us about the evolution of geopolitics in some Western spaces!
Zlatogor MINCHEV: Nowadays geopolitics is getting a quite important topic both with globalization and techno-logies merging. As the future belongs to digitalization, the new geopolitics is getting closer to technologies like AI. Presently this sounds quite futuristic but in the not-so-far future (10-15 years from today) AI will govern us. Even now technologies are taking decisions on social media, and thus shaping the media environment. And this is just the beginning of future geopolitics transformation. By the way, we are trying to gather different viewpoints and expert potential in this context with our Secure Digital Future 21 initiative. Now with more than 60 countries around the globe for just six years in a row.
V.S.: As a geopolitician, you have made a significant contribution – through your wide-ranging analyses – to new approaches to the impact of geopolitics on unfolding events. Please share with us some impactful geopolitical challenges posed by the US, China, Russia and the EU!
Zlatogor MINCHEV: A quite difficult question, especially now for Europe! We are doing some models in this sense. Though quite prognostic. Certainly, the Asia dragon (I mean China) is going to increase its influence for EU. And this is mostly from eco-nomic reasons. But let us not forget and the BRICS ideas for extension. This could certainly change the world balance. As for the Russia and US tensions, we have to note the Ukrainian war and EU sanctions to Russia. But here comes the really complicated part that I think will be most frank to separate on two scenarios: a positive one – the war will end soon and we continue only with the economic post-COVID crisis. Whilst the negative one is that the war will escalate within the next few years in Europe. And this is a really devastating scenario, especially if ones assume extended BRICS negative economic influence to EU & US. Most probably however, we will witness new federations established on the world map, trying to stop these processes. From one side this could happen due to economic reasons, but from another – just normal dislike of the present global political balance. Here of course we should note again the technologies’ role as it could be dual – soft and hard power. Let me memorize you how we ended the World War II – with the atomic bombs in Japan. Today modern weapons are much stronger, so if the politicians are not that peaceful we could soon see a new world order.
V.S.: Unfortunately, the latest challenges in Eastern Europe are manifesting themselves in a war of attrition, which will spread – through repercussions – in the medium term.
How do you assess geopolitical relations between the West and Russia on the Grand Chessboard?
What will be the next moves?
Zlatogor MINCHEV: The next moves are quite clear new sanctions and war esca-lation, with joining NATO in the Ukrainian conflict. But this is just if Russia is not changing her present geopolitical behavior. However, I do believe that they are stra-tegic player, so it will not happen that clearly. Either we will see a new revolution in Russia or if they consolidate around BRICS – new world order from an economic perspective. And here the role of EU is getting quite vague as the economic pressure is advancing and this will ruin the European economy without the Russian cheap fossil resources and market rearrangement. Maybe, new countries will leave EU, or freeze their membership. Let us however not forget that the dithering scenario to the war is also possible. As from a military perspective, the current Russian military behavior is quite inadequate. Because they are losing from a social perspective. So, either new AI technologies and smart weapons will solve the conflict or we will see a new, more federated world. Unfortunately, without a new ideology, this will create numerous local wars for resources. Here however we have to note the climate changes that are affecting us all around the globe. And the politicians need to be wise and try to take care of the people not just taking as a priority their power and economic ambitions.
V.S.: How do you assess the rise of China, the strengthening of BRICS and the Shanghai Economic Cooperation Treaty?
What effects, over time, might these developments have on global security?
Zlatogor MINCHEV: As I already mentioned the role of the Dragon is getting quite dominating, especially from economic and technological perspectives. However, I do not see China to have ambitions to Europe except as a market. Normally their interest are addressing extensive influence in Asia, so Japan, Taiwan, Korea could be their natural objectives. As for the BRICS, they could attract some EU members due to plans of new economy establishment. But this is not that bad, as the current crisis is not easy to be handled in a unipolar model. As for the global one, the economic domination of US dollar is getting quite difficult, except if their economists find a new socio-political model or allies among their old partners. But this all depends on the BRICS advancement and sustainability. From a military perspective however, I do not think that a military conflict between EU and BRICS is on the way.
V.S.: There is increasing talk of realigning the poles of power on new principles. In particular, the China-Russia alliance is demanding a new world order.
Do you think they have the potential to impose a new world order?
What would be the geopolitical challenges brought about by this alliance?
Zlatogor MINCHEV: As new world order is certainly a realistic scenario on the table. But Russian-China one I don’t think. The economic interest of an advanced BRICS are far beyond Russia. They just don’t understand the Russian-Ukrainian war escalation. This is simply a global economy negative influencer, especially after the COVID pan-demic. As the new economic unions are quite possible, we will have to accept that globalization in both military and economic will be more federated. The present political elites however are lacking ideological transformation and the digitalization could not fill this gap. As AI, broad-band mobile Internet, smart cars, cities and reality are good things, but for well-developed and rich societies. However, these are just few of the world countries. What about the rest – they certainly have a sig-nificant role on the map. I will again mention the climate changes – they will be much more significant for the future geopolitical landscape than the present strange ambitions of restoring the old world. Even if we get a stronger BRICS and re-born USSR this will not solve the climate changes, either resources lack, related to food and energy. It is quite simple but noted in the last century by the club of Rome – we could not make the world live that better with that way of social & economic organization. So either we have to accept this, or try to invent a new technological solution to handle the future security and society challenges.
V.S.: How do you see geopolitical developments?
There is more and more talk about Geo Intelligence (as geopolitics of information) and Artificial Intelligence – the fifth dimension of geopolitics. Do you see these developments as real?
If YES, how will they affect international relations and the evolution of this science?
If NO, what can we expect in the future?
Zlatogor MINCHEV: Definitely, I do! The technologies are going to immerse deeper and deeper in our reality, even in a federated geopolitical manner. So, some parts of the world will be well developed, whilst others – not. And the present balance in this sense is in a transition. Presently, intelligence and governance are already benefiting of the AI progress. But the trap is on the way with the AI sentience. Because the new generations to come although overinformed and flooded with data dynamics are still keeping the natural objective of humans striving for domination against machines. We need to assume that present territories rearrangement within the Earth will be quite difficult and bloody. And though the ideas for Mars & Moon colonization sound quite interesting for the moment, the life is well-organized only here on the Earth, at least to our current knowledge. Thus, the future geopolitical players should find the balance for the new society, whilst keeping human ambitions and technologies in a peaceful balance, capable to handle climate changes and mankind’s needs in an appropriate way.
How do you rate the Geopolitics Review and the Romanian School of Geopolitics?
Zlatogor MINCHEV: Quite positive and innovative! Just keep going in this direction, adding new partners & initiatives. We are already partnering in this sense and hope to deeper this cooperation.
Zlatogor MINCHEV is an “Associate Professor” on “Automation and Control”, IT for Security De-partment Head at Institute of ICT, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences; Part-time “Associate Professor” at Operations Research, Probabilities & Statistics Department, Institute of Mathematics & Informatics Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. Director of the Joint Training Simulation & Analysis Center, orga-nizing and conducting research in the fields of foresight analysis with mixed realities assessments, supercomputer simulations, cybersecurity, crisis & emergency management. Author and co-author of a large number (above 200) of scientific publications; successful participant in numerous (above 50) national & international scientific projects on expert and managing positions; International visiting professor on multiaspect security and cybersecurity problems in Europe, Latin & North America & the Balkans. His diplomatic experience dates back with NATO Public Diplomacy Division recognition as Security Opinion Leader, further extended with Cybersecurity problems. He has been also collaborating on the diplomatic field with the non-government sector: Managing Board of Association of the Officers in the Reserve “Atlantic& Executive Board of George C. Marshall Association – Bulgaria”. Vice-Chairman of Communication & Information Specialists Association – Bulgaria; e-Sigurnost Balkans Association honorable member. President & founder of the inter-national forum “Secure Digital Future 21” for research, business and policy makers efforts and experience joining with more than 60 countries now. Awarded and distinguished with numerous prestigious national and international awards. Well-known expert for the media (with above 300 interviews) in the country and abroad on security and technological challenges.