NATO Public Forum 2023 – Mr. Theodossios Georgiou, delivered a powerful message

In the midst of a high-level Panel on “Parliamentarians and Grassroots Support for NATO,” Mr. Theodossios Georgiou, Councelor of the Atlantic Treaty Association (ATA) at that time and since October 31, 2023 the newly elected President of ATA, made an internvention in a room filled with speakers and honorable guests. Among them were the Speaker of the Parliament of Lithuania, the President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, and the US Senator. With a commanding presence, Mr. Georgiou delivered a significant intervention that immediately captured the attention of all in attendance.

He emphasized the paramount importance of the Atlantic Treaty Association in educating and engaging civil society about the North Atlantic Alliance’s role in safeguarding their democracies. He passionately conveyed the message that public support for NATO membership was not merely a democratic issue, but a representation of each member’s commitment to a community of shared values and the necessary diplomatic and military actions to protect them.

Highlighting the significance of public support, Mr. Georgiou underscored the significance of public support, stating that it not only ensured the commitment of member countries but also provided legitimacy to the alliance. He stressed the need for public education, asserting that citizens must be informed about the reasons for NATO membership and its impact on their lives. His words carried weight, as he drew attention to the presence of over 70 distinguished individuals from NATO countries in the room, all members of the ATA Atlantic Treaty Association and its Councils.

In a resolute tone, Mr. Georgiou assured the audience that the messages conveyed during the Forum would reach thousands of citizens worldwide, as it was their duty to disseminate them. He likened their role to that of political leaders, who have an obligation to continually inform their constituents. His intervention served as a powerful reminder of the crucial role played by the Atlantic Treaty Association in enlightening and engaging civil society, while emphasizing the importance of public support for NATO membership.

As Mr. Georgiou concluded his address, the room erupted in applause, acknowledging the significance of his words and the urgency of the mission at hand. This intervention had set the stage for a dynamic and thought-provoking discussion on the future of NATO and the vital role of grassroots support in ensuring its continued success.

During the inaugural panel discussion of the NATO Public Forum 2023, expertly moderated by Heather Conley, a number of prominent global leaders voiced their apprehensions regarding the evolving global landscape and underscored the imperative to safeguard NATO and extend support to Ukraine.

 Justin Trudeau, the esteemed Prime Minister of Canada, eloquently underscored the significance of standing up against aggressors and autocratic regimes, particularly in light of Russia’s audacious incursion into Ukraine. He fervently emphasized Canada’s unwavering commitment to Ukraine, driven by both its substantial Ukrainian diaspora and the principled stance against any nation harboring territorial ambitions. Trudeau exuded confidence that this gathering would unequivocally demonstrate solidarity with the Ukrainian people, instilling them with a renewed sense of hope for the future.

Krišjānis Kariņš, the Prime Minister of Latvia, lauded the adaptability and battle-hardened experience of the Ukrainian armed forces in their valiant struggle against Russia. He forcefully emphasized the indispensability of NATO’s preparedness and deterrence, as Russia solely comprehends the language of strength and power. Kariņš cogently argued that the attainment of stable peace in Europe can only be realized when Ukraine assumes its rightful place as a member of the NATO alliance.

Kaja Kallas, the Prime Minister of Estonia, astutely acknowledged the palpable threat posed by Russia and passionately called for augmented defense expenditures and bolstered military capabilities. She poignantly underscored the sacrifices made by the valiant Ukrainian military, who have not only defended their homeland but also protected the sanctity of NATO member states. Admiral Rob Bauer, the distinguished Chair of the Military Committee at NATO, lucidly emphasized the pressing urgency of the situation and the imperative for collective defense. He candidly acknowledged the formidable challenges that lie ahead in implementing the strategies discussed during this summit, yet resolutely underscored the paramount importance of taking decisive action.

The panel discussion concluded with Heather Conley, President of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, emphasizing the significance of the conversation surrounding the defense of NATO and the potential advantages of integrating the Ukrainian military into NATO’s defense efforts.

 Petr Pavel, President of Czechia, speaking at the NATO Public Forum, stated, “Beyond equipment, ammunition, or financial support, Ukraine requires encouragement and reassurance. This will help maintain high morale among Ukrainian forces, allowing them to envision a brighter future. They need to perceive motivation and feel that they will eventually be embraced as part of the NATO family. We can provide such assurance by simply stating that once the conflict is resolved, we will initiate the accession process.” Gary Kasparov, Chess Grandmaster, also speaking at the NATO Public Forum, shed light on the challenges faced by Russian civil society, emphasizing the imperative of human security.

Antonio Tajani, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy, delivered a compelling speech at the NATO Public Forum, underscoring Italy’s unwavering commitment to safeguarding Ukraine in its pursuit of peace and justice. Tajani emphasized the imperative of ousting Russian forces and reaching a mutually agreeable resolution as crucial steps towards achieving lasting peace. Furthermore, he shed light on the pressing need to protect both Europe and Ukraine, while also addressing security concerns in the Mediterranean region, particularly the activities of the Wagner group in Sub-Saharan Africa and the presence of Boko Haram in Northern Africa.

During the panel discussion “From Strategic Necessity to Economic Opportunity: Investing in Defence” as a Commitment for the Future, the speakers placed great emphasis on the significance of Nordic cooperation and Europe’s responsibility in ensuring its own security. They stressed the necessity of increased investment in defense, while also highlighting the importance of making well-informed decisions and prioritizing quality.
The Swedish Minister of Defense expressed support for NATO membership and underscored the vital role of maintaining a robust defense industrial base.
The NATO Assistant Secretary General for Defense Investment emphasized the urgency of addressing the conflict in Ukraine, while simultaneously ensuring the defense of the Euro-Atlantic area and devising plans for agile military capabilities.
The German Minister of Defense discussed the importance of reaching the “ceiling” of defense spending and emphasized that Ukraine’s future lies within NATO.

Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, Speaker of the Seimas, Joëlle Garriaud-Maylam, French Senator, President of NATO Parliamentary Assembly Jeanne Shaheen, US Senator, Co-chair of the Senate NATO Observers Group emphasized the importance of supporting Ukraine in its conflict with Russia. They argued that the attack on Ukraine was not just a regional problem, but an assault on the international order and parliamentary democracy. They stressed the need for a clear commitment from NATO to support Ukraine, both in terms of membership and practical military support. They also highlighted the importance of democracy and the potential consequences if Ukraine is not supported. They argued that the international community, including adversaries like China, North Korea, and Iran, is watching how the situation in Ukraine is handled. Finally, they stressed the importance of NATO member nations meeting their commitments and capabilities.

David Cattler, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Intelligence and Security, believes that Ukraine’s potential will shine once the war concludes. Hanna Shelest, Security Studies Program Director, highlighted the importance of not locking Ukraine’s potential through Russian aggression and the lack of clear statements about Ukrainian membership. She urged for joint action and amplification of potential.

Sławomir Debski, Director of the Polish Institute of International Affairs, emphasized that Ukraine defends what NATO stands for and proved the right to self-defense and calling allies. He believes that a Ukrainian victory would unlock the potential of Europe and transatlantic relations, bringing peace to all Europeans.

The discussion, moderated by Kristine Berzina, Managing Director of GMF North, highlighted the interconnectedness between Ukraine’s success and the well-being of NATO allies. It is a call for action to support Ukraine and unlock its potential, which ultimately benefits the entire international community.

This discussion, moderated by Linas Kojala, sheds light on the Netherlands’ commitment to unity and acceleration in supporting Ukraine against Russian aggression.

Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands acknowledged that there will be challenging days and setbacks for Ukraine, particularly on the frontlines. However, he emphasized the importance of standing together and providing unwavering support during these times. To fully utilize the F-16 aircraft, the approval of the United States is crucial. While they have granted permission for training, Rutte called for an American yes on the actual deployment of the F-16.

Prime Minister Edi Rama acknowledged the challenges of leadership but expressed pride in his country’s NATO membership, finding support against dictatorial regimes. He credited the European Union for Albania’s significant achievements and emphasized the crucial role of the United States, believing its support is essential for Albania’s survival.

This insightful discussion, moderated by Rachel Rizzo, sheds light on Albania’s perspective and its reliance on international alliances for its progress and survival.

In the wrap-up of the first day of the NATO Public Forum, the organizer expressed gratitude to the institutional partners, including ATA and YATA, for their valuable contributions. Their support has been instrumental in making this event a success. Looking forward to more insightful discussions and collaborations in the days to come!

The first panel discussion of the second day at the NATO Public Forum was truly enlightening!

Moderated by Christine Mhundwa, the discussion focused on the crucial link between climate change and security. The panelists highlighted the urgent need for adaptation, collaboration, and sustainable practices.

Thórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörd Gylfadóttir, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iceland, emphasized the importance of finding alternatives to fossil fuels for true independence.

David van Weel, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges, acknowledged the growing awareness within militaries about the reality of climate change and its security implications.

Sherri Goodman, Chair of the Board and Secretary General of the International Military Council on Climate and Security, stressed the need for militaries to adapt swiftly to the changing climate.

Gen. Luca Baione, Member of the Executive Council of the World Meteorological Organization, highlighted the significance of bridging the gap between the military and scientific communities.

This discussion showcased the critical role of collaboration and understanding in addressing the challenges posed by climate change. Let’s work together towards a sustainable and secure future!

In a powerful speech, Jake Sullivan, the National Security Advisor of the US, highlighted the importance of unity and commitment within NATO. The Vilnius Summit Communiqué clearly states that Ukraine’s future lies in NATO, and the alliance will work closely with Ukraine on this path.

Sullivan emphasized that unity doesn’t mean complete agreement on every aspect, but rather bringing together diverse perspectives around a coherent strategy based on principles, evidence, and logic. This summit will prove Putin wrong, as the alliance emerges united, purposeful, committed, and energized.

The role of private companies in technology-driven conflicts, like the Russian aggression in Ukraine, cannot be underestimated, says Ulrike Franke, Senior Policy Fellow at ECFR.

Franke suggests that NATO and the EU should learn from Ukraine’s effective communication and collaboration with non-state actors, including leveraging public support and meme culture.

Andrea Traversone, Managing Partner at NATO Innovation Fund (NIF), commends NATO’s bravery in leading with the fund and the DIANA activity to address the threat of competitive investment and potential acquisition.

Barbara K. McQuiston, Chair of the Board of Directors at DIANA, advocates for expanding the definition of security technology to include energy and climate solutions.

Collaboration, innovation, and adaptation are key in addressing security challenges and leveraging technology for the benefit of NATO and its member states.

The speakers on this panel discussed the progress made in the Summit Communique, the inevitability of Ukraine joining NATO, and the importance of a strong and balanced alliance.

Luminita Odobescu, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Romania, highlighted the importance of the Summit Communique and its positive impact on the Republic of Moldova.

Tobias Billström, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sweden, expressed that there is now a widespread acceptance that Ukraine will join NATO in the future, emphasizing Ukraine’s continuous progress and the cost it imposes on Russia to maintain control.

Ben Wallace, Secretary of State for Defence, UK, credited Putin as the best recruiting agent for NATO and believes that once the conflict is resolved, Ukraine will become a member of NATO.

Kajsa Ollongren, Minister of Defence, the Netherlands, emphasized the need for a balanced NATO, where the US remains a crucial partner, but European countries also contribute to the alliance’s strength.

Gabrielius Landsbergis, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lithuania, celebrated the strategic victory of committing to Ukrainian membership in NATO, calling it the biggest achievement. He looks forward to the next stop in Washington and urged everyone to contribute to making it an even more historical event than Vilnius.

Andrii Yermak, Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, sees the commitment to Ukrainian membership in NATO as a strong signal to the aggressor. He emphasized the importance of achieving concrete results from the summit, as Ukrainians are living in the reality of war and are looking for tangible outcomes.

The speakers highlighted the significance of the commitment to Ukrainian membership in NATO and the ongoing fight for Ukraine’s liberation.

Thanos Dokos, National Security Adviser to the Prime Minister of Greece, on the importance of protecting our interconnected world. Dokos emphasized the vulnerability and exposure we face in areas such as energy and communications, highlighting the need to address these new threats.

Building resilience and prioritizing protection are crucial in today’s rapidly evolving landscape. Let’s work together to ensure the safety and security of our interconnected systems.