Robert Vass: Democracy Cultivates Critical Tech Innovation In Central Europe

The outlook for Europe looks bleak. Economic growth is nonexistent. Extremist parties are gathering strength. The European Union is fracturing. Ties to the U.S. are frayed. Russian influence grows. But Robert Vass, the founder of GLOBSEC, one of Europe’s most important think tanks, makes the case in this fascinating conversation that there are underlying strengths that will make for a vibrant future for the continent undergirded by a renewed and strong relationship with the U.S. 

Vass launched GLOBSEC as a young college student, 15 years ago. He is a savvy pro-democracy, pro-free enterprise, pro-NATO activist. We caught up with him in Bratislava, Slovakia, the heart of Central Europe, where Forbes was holding its Under 30 Global Retreat in conjunction with Vass’ celebrated annual conference that draws over a thousand influencers from all over Europe and the U.S. Contrary to outside impressions, civil society in places like Slovakia is strong.

Economically, Central Europe is vigorous and will ultimately be a prod for reform in Western Europe. Few people realize, for instance, that Slovakia with a population of only 5 million, is one the world’s major auto manufacturers—it’s the fifth-largest exporter of vehicles to the U.S.! The country is also becoming a high-tech hub, especially in the area of cybersecurity.

Listen to Vass—and take heart.

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Steve Forbes is Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Media.

Steve’s newest project is the podcast “What’s Ahead,” where he engages the world’s top newsmakers, pol...