In recent years, the international system has seen a return to dynamics of competition between great powers for key regional spaces, which are relevant to the maintenance and protection of global flows. In this context, the Atlantic tends to emerge as an area of projection for Atlantic and non-Atlantic powers, with impacts on regional security. The domains where this competition takes place – from cyber to the Arctic, from military alliances to the management of common goods – accumulate successively in the face of sometimes opposing and/or competitive agendas that go beyond the mere sharing of common maritime spaces.
The strategic Atlantic space thus remains crucial for international security. The strategic location of the Azores, as well as the size and security conditions of the Lajes Base on Terceira Island, have merited particular attention in recent years. Although developments in military technology have changed the use of this air base, Lajes has not lost its strategic importance and the Azores archipelago continues to be central to Atlantic security. In a context of growing international competition in the Atlantic, it is of the utmost importance to understand the added value of this strategic positioning for a specific set of activities that are now essential to our understanding of security. This includes matters related to maritime surveillance, the exercise of sovereignty at sea and the sustainable exploitation of natural resources, but also aspects related to communication systems (submarine cables or satellites) or cooperation between islands and Atlantic spaces, which are so important for regional security.
This seminar aimed to identify areas of convergence and divergence of interests, and areas where these same interests may prove to be asymmetric in the face of a rapidly evolving Atlantic. By understanding the scope of possible areas of convergence, any new transatlantic initiatives can be developed more easily. By identifying areas of divergence, any disputes can be better avoided. And by pinpointing areas of asymmetric interests, any priorities may also be better managed and eventually mitigated. This exercise will provide important clues on how to enhance the Azores and its territory in line with this new context.