Transatlantic Security: The Challenges Ahead

Greek Association for Atlantic and European Cooperation Hosts 21st Annual International Symposium under the Auspices of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and NATO Public Diplomatic Division

On December 10th-11th 2012, the 21st Annual International Symposium organised by the Greek Association for Atlantic and European Cooperation (GAAEC) was held in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Greece. This year’s Symposium was organised in the light of the Chicago NATO Summit under the main theme ‘Transatlantic Security: The Challenges Ahead’.

The Symposium gathered together a wide range of delegates and experts and NGO’s, as well as youth movements. The 21st Annual Symposium sessions placed emphasis on: Transatlantic security today and in the future, threats and opportunities in transforming regions, the financial crisis and defence and energy security, and women, peace and security including the new educational concept of GAAEC, a workshop on NGO’s and youth involvement and development.

Mr. Theodossis Georgiou, President and one of the founders of GAAEC, opened the Symposium and reflected on the main issue of the present financial crisis; the relation of Greece to NATO; the general role of NATO in the world and energy security. Mrs. Despina-Ino Afentouli, the Information Officer for Greece from NATO Headquarters, opened her introduction by congratulating GAAEC upon the successful organisation of their 21st Annual International Symposium. In her speech she referred to the strong connection of security and the economic crisis.

Opening Session

The session was chaired by the GAAEC President who highlighted the importance of 60 years of Greece in NATO and continued by introducing the speakers of this session. Ambassador Vassilis Kaskarelis, Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Greece, informed that the new Strategic Concept clarified the strategic role of NATO in the next 10 years by placing the focus on the operation of Article 5, establishing the Treaty of Washington. He continued with Greece, which is in the midst of a crisis, and despite it, has taken a firm decision to utilise the available coefficients of national power in order to make its presence noticeable in the international field and to participate with its allies and international partners in the transformation of the international system, as well to foster relationships with key countries: Russia, China, India, Israel and other rising powers.

Ambassador Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic, Assistant Secretary General of NATO, began by congratulating GAAEC on its successful partnership with the NATO Public Division from 1991. Ambassador Kitarovic reported on the aftermath of the Chicago Summit such as: Afghanistan and partnership, and the role of NATO in the prevention of terrorism. She placed emphasis on partnership, cooperation and dialogue as the core part of NATO’s main task, the meaning of enlargement for the Security of Euro-Atlantic Cooperation and the importance of partnership between NATO and Russia. She explained that NATO did not neglect the issue of women, peace and security which is demonstrated by the implementation of UN Resolution 13/25.

In his speech Ambassador Ad Hon George Savvaides, noted that the developments of the last 20 years have given the Alliance the springboard for the transformation of a strictly collective defence organisation, into a global international security factor for the benefit of its members, peace and stability. Furthermore, he focused on the accession of Greece and Turkey in NATO since 1952 and the importance of this enlargement. “It achieves the creation of a single, unbroken defensive line, from the North Cape of Norway to the Balkans, the Eastern Mediterranean and the accesses of the Middle East and North Africa.”

Ambassador Forum A ‘Perspectives on Transatlantic Security’

In the Ambassador Forum, that took place on the first day of Symposium, Ambassadors gave speeches on the subject ‘Perspective on Transatlantic Security’. Ambassador George Savvaides made the first speech noticing that Transatlantic security was always the raison d’?tre of the Alliance, as well as that “transatlantic security” is not meant for collective defence purposes only, but it permeates the new NATO functions, namely crisis management and cooperation with partner nations.

Mr. Daniel Bennett Smith, Ambassador of United States to Greece, began by reflecting upon the importance of Europe as a primary partner of America. He stressed that in today’s hard economic situation, equal energy should be invested in economic relations, just as much as in security. He then turned to NATO as vital for the US in Transatlantic security relationships, through which the United States confronts diverse and difficult threats that were dramatically illustrated during the Libyan crisis. Furthermore, he made referred to the Chicago NATO Summit where the main subject of discussion was Afghanistan as a top-priority global challenge.

Mr. Jean Loup Kuhn Delforge, Ambassador of France to Greece, in his introduction pointed out the diversity of the threats within the global framework which need strong cooperation between the Alliance and the EU. Furthermore, he said that the EU and NATO are facing threats such as: terrorism, piracy and cyber-attacks and that energy, international security and economic interests of members are undermined by these actions. Ambassador Delforge also stressed that “European Defence” does not mean the defence of Europe, but of European interests. To him, it is important that each can act in a complementary, and at the same time, independent way. He brought to conclusion his final statement by saying that the EU should be capable of dealing with partner’s obligations and be effective.

Mr. Saker Malkawi, Ambassador of Jordan to Greece, in his speech referred to the great need for international engagement and that cooperation was always an essential factor for the success of a mission. Ambassador Malkawi continued by explaining Jordan’s partnership with NATO, underlining that it is based on an understanding of the fundamental principles guiding it. He finalised that the Individual Partnership Cooperation Programme with NATO in 2009 became a full NATO partner.

Guest Speaker, Ms Augustina Tzvetkova, Deputy Minister of Defence of Bulgaria, started by saying that the Bulgarian vision of today is a Euro-Atlantic integration of the whole region. She presented that Bulgaria is focused on regional defence cooperation and on the South East Defence Ministerial (SEMD), as well as on the establishment of a NATO Crisis Management for Disaster Response Centre of Excellence. In her speech Ms Tzvetkova alleged that Bulgaria believes that the implementation of the Chicago agenda in particular ‘Smart Defence’ and ‘Connected Forces Initiative’ will deliver more cooperation amongst NATO allies and partners.

Women, Peace and Security

This panel was chaired by Dr. Aliki Mitsakos, President of Women in International Security. In the introduction she emphasised the need to elaborate the Road Map for Greece for the Resolution 1325 and 1820 of the UN Security Council.

On her part, ‘Women, Peace and Security’ speaker Deputy Minister Tzvetkova shared her experience of running the NATO project ‘Female Leadership in Defence and Security’, where she emphasised the importance of this particular topic, not as a gender issue, but as a matter of capability building. Initially the idea of the project was based on the willingness to find and share ideas on how women can be involved in security and defence, but lately it concentrated more on the role of the strategic leadership in capabilities building process and the diversity of human resources in the area of security and defence. The project is approved as a tier-one project within the framework of NATO Smart Defence projects.

Ms Katerina Papakosta, MP President, Parliamentary Committee for Equality and Human Rights, mentioned that Greece country as a member of the EU and NATO must do what is necessary to support the implementation of the Resolutions 1325 and 1820 of the UN Security Council for women, peace and security. Furthermore, she underlined that combating violence against women is a serious issue as it involves an entire social trend.

Ms Zetta Makri, Secretary General for Equality, Ministry of Interior of Greece, stated that encouraging women to have an active role in the highest offices of peace and security is very important. Their participation in decision-making is crucial. She continued by saying that women need the protection of legal frameworks in conflict or in peace.

Professor Dr. Zehra Odyakmaz, Dean of Faculty of Law in Mevlâna University, Turkey, reported that the number of terrorist activities is increasing and that the most important reason for this is the conflict between states in defining what means “terror” and “terrorist”, as well as that there is not enough understanding on this issue in countries that are not exposed to this problem.

Ms Suzan Jahollari, Professor, Defence Academy, Albania, referred to Gender Equality Law in Society 2008, which is based on the principle of equality and non-discrimination, as well as the National Strategy for gender equality and domestic balance.

Colonel Michael Katsaris (AF), Hellenic Ministry of Defence, referred to the UN Resolution 1325 and also to the Resolution 1889, which reinforces the precedent in the sector of implementation and monitoring. Finally, he informed his audience that great efforts have been made in order to increase female participation in important areas such as the military.

The first day of the Symposium ended with a workshop chaired by Dr. Aliki Mitsakos. Mr. Giuseppe Belardetti, Programmes Director, Designated Secretary General, Atlantic Treaty Association (ATA), emphasised that ATA tries to re-launch the Transatlantic Partnership in the civil society through: seminars and workshops. He also made a few remarks about gender equality.

Ms Kristin Durant, President of the Youth Atlantic Treaty Association (YATA), said that in all discussions about gender equality and women in security, more men should be involved, whilst Ms Antonia Colibasanu, Assistant Lecturer at the Bucharest University of Economics, Romania ended the workshop by saying that we need a wider and more complementary communication in this field.

Ms Ino-Afentouli opened the second day of the Symposium by clarifying the importance of the Symposium and the contribution of GAAEC to promoting the Euro Atlantic agenda in Greece. She concluded by saying that over the last 60 years, the Greek membership in NATO has helped a lot in the defence of the country.

NATO and the EU - Strategic Partners or Competitors

The session NATO and the EU - Strategic Partners or Competitors was chaired by Mr. Michail Tsinisizelis. Guest speaker of the session was former Austrian Federal Minister, President of PolAk and AIES, Dr. Werner Fasslabend who raised the issue of future Global Security Challenges, which will shape the future security environment. He highlighted three main lines for the future challenges including conflict, instability and crisis. The first line surrounds the area from the Balkans to Caucasus and to Central Asia, the second line is set from the Atlantic Ocean to Northern Africa and Central Asia, which is well known because of the movements of the Arab spring, but the third line marks the area from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. Dr. Fasslabend also reflected on the nuclear issue mentioning North Korea, Iran and the underestimated threat, Pakistan. Moreover he highlighted the central question for future global security - great power interests which cross in the Eastern Asia Area, in terms of Chinas’ global perspectives as a rising power. He emphasised the role of challenges which will involve both the European Union and NATO from an American point of view - transferring the canter of interests which includes a shift of political, economic and military capabilities to the Pacific Region. On the contrary, from the EU point of view, minimising the security dependency on Americans and their capabilities and taking control over their own security environment which includes not only defining security interests, but also solving them. In the case of NATO and the EU as strategic partners and competitors, the guest speaker drew attention to the wall between the EU and NATO and to the necessity to overcome divergence between both organisations.

The session ‘Energy security: The challenges for international organisations and the private sector’ was chaired by former Minister and Director of the Institute of Diplomacy and Global Affairs, the American College of Greece - Deree, Andreas Andrianopoulos. He stated that energy security concerns us all and that it depends on energy producer countries, transfer and consumer countries, and the geostrategic and political conditions of them, as well as on their demand for energy and energy reserves.

Head of the Energy Security Section, Emerging Security Challenges Division of NATO, Michael Ruhle, said that NATO through its own capabilities, can contribute a lot to the Energy Security issue because it brings into the “game” the powerful USA, Canada and European countries that are either energy producers or energy transferring countries. Restrictions that NATO can face are not to militarise energy security, but should be driven from market. He continued that roles should not be duplicated, for example with International Energy Agency, and that NATO should not interfere with national economic policies.

Dr. Filis started his speech by saying that energy is a matter of market and since political factors are involved it is creating unstable relations between states. The EU depends heavily on Russia, which is the main supplier, but they are interdependent, because “Europe buys expensive and pays on time”. A serious danger for the EU is that it didn’t secure other resources of than from Russia. On the other hand, China and India are becoming “thirsty markets”. Finally, he remarked that the energy sector is also a military sector and this concerns NATO Allies regarding the security of supply.

Ambassadors Forum B ‘Perspectives on Transatlantic Security’

Director General of ELIAMEP, Thanos Dokos, chaired the Ambassador Forum B, introducing the main theme and its speakers.

Mr. Arye Mekel, Ambassador of Israel to Greece, dedicated his speech to explaining the position of the State of Israel in the Middle East. He emphasised that the primary goal of his country is to achieve peace with its neighbours, including the Palestinian Authority. The Peace Agreement has been signed with Jordan and Egypt, and not with Lebanon and Syria. He expressed his hope that the Arab Spring will establish democracy in the Arab world. Ambassador Mekel than made a few remarks on the energy issue, stating that his country lacked in oil and natural resources, but that a large quantity of natural gas had recently been discovered. He concluded by turning to Israeli-Greek relations noticing that there has been unprecedented improvement during the last two and half years.

Mr. Kerim Uras, Ambassador of Turkey to Greece, reflected upon this year as a very important one for Turkey and Greece as it marked the 60th Anniversary of membership within NATO. He accented that despite differences between the two countries, NATO has helped them to come together for common causes within Alliance. He referred to the main international issues of the day such as: Libya, the Middle East situation, Iran and Syria. He said that lasting peace in the Middle East would have a positive global effect and has the majority support in Turkey. He affirmed in his speech that of utmost importance is to make sure that Iran’s nuclear programme is a peaceful one and to ensure that it stays this way. Furthermore, he said that the reckless situation in Syria is a big problem for his country, as their neighbours pose a great threat to security and stability in the region. He further emphasised the importance of NATO for security and defence, noting that the harsh economic situation has far-reaching implications on defence capabilities, as well as that NATO’s partnership is an essential ingredient for NATO’s continuation of the enlargement which is of huge importance as stabilising factor.

Mr. David Landsman, Ambassador of United Kingdom to Greece, quoted in his speech the British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, by saying that NATO is more necessary than ever, and that NATO should work closely with non-NATO partners to help secure common goals. He said that NATO remains the central pillar of UK defence policy. In addition, Ambassador Landsman concluded that NATO has to stay open to enlargement, even though NATO is not aspiring to become a world security organisation. During the second part of his speech, he devoted it to the position of the United Kingdom toward NATO and the EU. He asserted that Britain will stay one of the most active participants in the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy, and highlighted that even though Britain is not part of Eurozone, it does not mean that Britain is not serious about EU membership. From his point of view, the EU cannot be effective if it tries to be uniformed and on the contrary, it needs the flexibility of a network. He also commented on the current economic crisis and what has to be done in order to rationalise all expenses, including in the area of defence as well.

Special Session

This session was chaired by the GAAEC President, Theodossis Georgiou, who stressed the importance of the financial crisis issue and how that affects defence.

Chief of the HNDGS, General Mikhail Kostarakos, based his speech on the impact of the financial crisis on defence planning and demonstrated its contribution of ‘Smart Defence’ to mitigate those impacts. “Governments, in order to balance their budgets, cut defence spending,” he said. He remarked that leaders of NATO member states agreed to embrace this initiative to ensure that the Alliance can embody its vision: NATO Forces 2020. The ‘Smart Defence’ should be seen as an opportunity to do more together rather than as an excuse to do less individually he added. He concluded by saying that as far as Greece is concerned, it is recognised that they need an armed forces with multiple capabilities ready to face threats and security challenges and to provide to the government with the potential to exercise the appropriate national foreign policy.

In the last session of the Symposium, Dr. Aliki Mitsakos introduced to the students the new educational platform of GAAEC. The ‘International Centre for Leading Studies’ ( On their parts, Mr. Belardetti and Ms Durant talked about the importance of NGOs and the possibility of young people becoming involved.