Mr. Theodossios Georgiou, President of the Atlantic Treaty Association
On October 31, 2023, Mr. Georgiou was unanimously elected as the President of the Atlantic Treaty Association (ATA) for a three-year term (2023-2026). This election is a recognition of his significant 35-year contribution to the ATA and his undeniable wealth of experience. In the organization's extensive 70-year history, this marks the first instance of an individual being elected for a second term, many years after his initial election in 1997-2000.
Theodossios Georgiou is the President and Founder of the Greek Association for Atlantic and European Cooperation. He is an honorary Lawyer after 40 years of practice at his own firm. Furthermore, he is the President of the Eurodefense – Greece, a Member of the Governing Council of AWEPA (The Netherlands), and its contact person in Greece. Additionally, he is a Member of the Board of Regents of the Fund for American Studies (Washington D.C.) and Co-Chairman of the International Institute for Political and Economic Studies ( IIPES) since 1996. From 2003 till 2012 he has served as a member of Board of the International Foundation for Election Systems, (UK Limited) Washington D.C .and London.
Having been involved in various networks of the Euro-Atlantic cooperation for more than 8 years, in 1991 Mr. Georgiou established the Greek Association for Atlantic and European Cooperation to revive the principles of transatlantic links in Greece within the framework of Atlantic Treaty Association. GAAEC experienced a dynamic development and rapidly took a leading role among other NGOs in Greece and Europe, focusing on transatlantic cooperation, security and education. GAAEC works in close cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Defense of Greece, as well as with NATO Public Diplomacy Division.
On October 7, 1997, Mr. Georgiou was unanimously elected the President of Atlantic Treaty Association (ATA; Paris; Brussels), an international organization (confederation) of the National Atlantic Councils and Committees of 42 States (all NATO and PfP countries) and remained in office until November 2000.
Moreover, he was a Director of the Office for the Minister of Interior Affairs Mr. Kostis Stephanopoulos (1974-1976), Member of the Greek Delegation to the European Communities in Brussels (1976-1979 during the negotiations period of Greece integration), Secretary General of the Council of Economic and Social Policy (ECOSOC), and a Special Advisor of Prime Minister Mr. Georgios Rallis. He was also a Member of the Economic and Social Assembly (Committee) of the European Communities. Member of “Nea Demokratia” party and a Founding Member of the “Democratic Renewal Party” until its cessation at the election of Kostis Stephanopoulos as the President of the Hellenic Republic. He has run in national elections in Athens and Patras electoral districts, as well as in elections for the European Parliament.
He has been a guest lecturer in various academic institutions and universities in Europe, Caucasus, Canada, the US and Africa and still continues his activities.
His academic interests and research focus primarily, from the political point of view, on transatlantic security and cooperation, Euro – Atlantic integration, role of NGOs in the 21st century, dialogue between the North and the South, resolution of conflicts and conflict prevention.
During the last 35 years Mr. Georgiou has been organizing and has chaired hundreds of symposiums, conferences and round table discussions both in Greece and around the globe and he has delivered a vast number of speeches. Additionally, he has led and participated in
countless international meetings, representing governmental and non – governmental sectors.
Having a strong involvement in the field of interdisciplinary education, in 2012 Mr. Georgiou, together with other distinguished personalities, founded The International Center for Leading Studies (TICLS), a new platform compounding various educational programs.
On June 4, 2003, he was awarded the “Chevalier dans l’ Ordre de la Legion D’ Honneur” by the President Jacques Chirac of France and on November 26, 2004 he received the “Golden Laurel Branch Award” from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria. He also has several other decorations and distinctions given in the recognition of his support for the integration of South-Eastern European countries to NATO and the EU.
In July 2019 he has been elected Co- Chair representing all European Countries- Members of the Atlantic Treaty Association to elaborate and present, along with the US Co-Chair “The new Strategic Reform “of the Atlantic Treaty Association for the 21 Century. Additionally he drew up the new Constitution of the Atlantic Treaty Association .
Mr. Georgiou studied Law in the University of Athens, European Law at the “Université Libre de Bruxelles” in Belgium and International Law at the Academy for International Law in The Hague, Netherlands. He is married to Aliki Mitsakos and has one son.
Dr. Werner Fasslabend
Werner Fasslabend was born on March 5th, 1944 in Marchegg, Lower Austria.
He attended school at Gänserndorf in Lower Austria and in Vienna at the Theresianum, where he passed his school-leaving examinations in 1963.
After one year of studying at Wilbraham Academy, USA, he went back to Austria, graduated at the University of Vienna with the doctors' degree of law and worked one year in a court practice.
In 1971 he joined private industry and became Product Manager and later on Director for Sales for Henkel-Persil/Austria.
After his membership in various councils in his hometown Marchegg and in the Province of Lower Austria, he was elected as Representative to the Lower House (Member of Parliament) between 1987 and 2006.
From February 2000 until December 2002, he was the 3rd president (=speaker) of the Austrian parliament.
From December 1990 until February 2000 he was Federal Minister of Defence and thus became the longest serving Minister of Defence in the history of the Republic of Austria. During his tenure he executed a far-reaching reform program in the Ministry, adapted the organization of the armed forces to the new threat scenario and modernized Austria's armament.
He also strongly supported Austria's active participation in the EU as well as in the NATO PfP and initiated and organized the first meeting of EU-Ministers of Defence in 1998.
Furthermore, he founded the Central European Cooperation in Peacekeeping (CENCOOP) in 1997.
Werner Fasslabend held different party functions. In 1994 he became the chairman of his party program committee and led the discussion for the new party's program, which was accepted 1995 by the National Congress of Austria's People's Party.
From January 1997 until October 2003 he has been holding the position of the chairman of the Austrian Workers and Employees Association in the Austrian People's Party.
From 2004 to 2015, he was the president of the Political Academy of Austrian People's Party and has been an honorary president since then.
Currently, he is president of the Austrian Institute for European and Security Policy (AIES), head of the Academic Council of Wilfred Martens Center for European Studies in Brussels, president of Universitätszentrum Wien, president of the Austrian-Slovak and the Austrian-Iranian Societies and Vice President of the Atlantic Treaty Association
Werner Fasslabend is married and has two children with his wife Martina.
Ms. Terhi Suominen (December 18, 1975) is a Secretary General of the Atlantic Council of Finland (ACF). Ms. Suominen has been the head of the ACF since January 2009. The Atlantic Council of Finland is a non-profit, non-partisan, non-governmental organization devoted to strengthening transatlantic agenda and promoting transatlantic relations and NATO related issues in Finland. The ACF provides a preeminent and unique discussion, research and education forum and networking hub for Finns who share the common interest in NATO and transatlantic relations with a special focus on foreign and security policy issues.
Ms. Suominen was nominated as a Partnership for Peace (PfP) Research Fellow at the NATO Defense College in Rome for April 2018 - August 2018. During her fellowship she conducted research on Finland - NATO´s Partner or Future Member? as well as contributed to other research projects, several NATO Defense College programs and courses.
Prior to her current duties, Ms. Suominen served as a Project Manager (2005-2008) in Finnish Business and Policy Forum EVA, the most reputed policy think tank in Finland. As a director of several projects, Ms. Suominen was director of the EVA´s International Relations Advisory Group and was involved in the EVA´s annual attitude and value survey. She was also engaged with the European Business Leaders Convention EBLC (2005-2011) in Helsinki and in St.Petersburg, Russia (2006).
Prior to joining EVA, Ms. Suominen was employed as a Research Fellow at the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence at the University of Turku (2004-2005), a Research Assistant and lecturer at the University of Turku (2001-2004) and a Training Programme on European Issues for Finnish Journalists (1999-2002). She has worked in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland (2002) and at the Helsinki Global Women Business Leaders Summit (2002).
Ms. Suominen holds a M.Soc.Sc. -degree from the University of Turku. She is a Turku Commercial College graduate and has studied at the Turku School of Economics as well.
She has attended professional courses and programmes such as the NATO’s Enhanced Partners toward the Warsaw Summit organized by the German Marshall Fund of the United States (2016) and the International Visitor Leadership Programme (IVLP) on the U.S. Foreign Policy Challenges organised by the U.S. Department of State in 2011.
Ms. Suominen has completed the National Defence Course (course number 213) organised by the National Defence University of Finland (2015). Ms. Suominen has attended several special courses organised by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, the Finnish Defence Forces and the Defence Command Finland.
Ms. Suominen has been invited to several working groups i.a. President of Finland´s annual Foreign and Security Policy Kultaranta Talks, Finland´s Foreign Minister's Transatlantic Relations Committee and Muutoksen Suomi (“Future challenges of Finland”) appointed by the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra. She is also consulting and lecturing for Finnish private and public organizations and she has several mainstream media appearances.
Ms. Suominen is an author of many publications i.a. Suomi ja Nato (“Finland and NATO”) (ed.), Kun Suomi kääntyi (“When Finland turned to the EU”) (ed.), The United States and the World (together with Eero Kytömaa), European Union and Russia: Different Great Powers (together with Esko Antola), Euroopan turvallisuus ja Suomi (“European Security and Finland” together with Axel Hagelstam) and Networks in the Baltic Sea Region (together with Esko Antola and Hiski Haukkala). She has also published several articles in newspapers, journals and reports such as The Enlargement Conundrum – Who´s Next?, which was published in the Atlantic Treaty Association´s NATO Securing Our Word -report for the NATO Summit in Wales.
Ms. Suominen is a founding member of the Women in International Security (WIIS) in Finland and a founding member of the Robert Schuman Society in Finland. In addition she has co-founded the Atlantic Council of Finland Youth Network (2003). She is a vice-president of the Finnish-Qatar Society (since 2009) and a member of the Crisis Management Initiative (CMI) (since 2006), founded by the CMI chairman, the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate (2008) and the former President of the Republic of Finland (1994-2000), H.E. Martti Ahtisaari. Ms. Suominen is a president of the European Movement in Turku (since 2013), a member of the supervisory board of the League of Finnish American Societies (since 2013) and a council member at the John Morton Center for North American Studies, University of Turku (since 2014).
Her languages include Finnish (native language), English (full proficiency), Swedish (full working proficiency), German (intermediate proficiency), French (elementary proficiency), Italian (elementary proficiency) and Estonian (elementary proficiency).
The areas of expertise and interest of Ms. Suominen include NATO, transatlantic relations, Finland-NATO -relations, Western European NATO Partners, Finnish foreign, security and integration policy and Finnish security identity.
Amb. Rastislav káčer
Johannes Kahrs is a German politician of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) who served as a member of the German parliament, Deutscher Bundestag, from 1998 until 2020.
Kahrs became a member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany in 1982. He first worked for the Young Socialists in the SPD (Jusos).
In the 1998 elections, Kahrs was first elected to the Bundestag, representing the Hamburg Mitte constituency.
During his first term between 1998 and 2002, Kahrs served on the Defence Committee. Since 2002, he has been a member of the Budget Committee and the Audit Committee. In addition, he joined the parliament’s Council of Elders in 2002, which – among other duties – determines daily legislative agenda items and assigns committee chairpersons based on party representation. From 2018 until 2020, he chaired the so-called Confidential Committee (Vertrauensgremium) of the Budget Committee, which provides budgetary supervision for Germany’s three intelligence services, BND, BfV and MAD.
In addition to his committee assignments, Kahrs served as member of the German-Turkish Parliamentary Friendship Group, first as deputy chairman (2003-2011) and then as chairman (2011-2013). From 2014, he was also a deputy chairman of the Parliamentary Friendship Group for Relations with the States of the Southern Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia).
Within his parliamentary group, Kahrs led the Bundestag group of SPD parliamentarians from Hamburg from 2009. In this capacity, he was part of the parliamentary group’s leadership under its successive chairs Thomas Oppermann (2013-2017), Andrea Nahles (2017-2019), and Rolf Mützenich (2019-2020). He was also the speaker of the Seeheim Circle.
In the negotiations to form a Grand Coalition of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU together with the Bavarian CSU) and the SPD following the 2013 German elections, Kahrs was part of the SPD delegation in the working group on banking regulation and the Eurozone, led by Herbert Reul and Martin Schulz.
In 2015, Kahrs served on the supervisory board of the Bewerbungsgesellschaft Olympia 2024 GmbH, the agency in charge of Hamburg’s unsuccessful bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics.
Mr. João Rebelo has been a member of the Board of the Portuguese Atlantic Committee for many years and is currently its President (since April 2020).
He has a degree in International Relations and was a university professor at Moderna and Lusófona Universities. He was also a member of the Portuguese Parliament for 20 years, where he worked diligently on security and defence issues. He was namely a member of the Portuguese delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly during most of the years he was in Parliament.
During his time with NATO PA, he was Vice President of the Security and Defence Committee. Currently, he works in the private sector, namely as board adviser of CEiiA and board member of EEA, SA (manufacture of aviation and aerospace components).
Anna Van Zoest
Anna Zoest is a Dutch national with over 15 years of experience in the field of foreign affairs. Her expertise lies in transatlantic affairs, NATO, security and defense, political communication, and public diplomacy.
Currently serving as the Director of the Netherlands Atlantic Association, Anna manages a diverse portfolio of responsibilities, including public events, media engagements and strategic planning. Anna is a also a member of the Peace and Security Commission of the Advisory Council on International Affairs (AIV), is an independent advisory body in the Netherlands that provides expert advice to the government and parliament on foreign policy and international issues.
Previously, Anna worked for the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where she served as a Seconded National Expert on counterterrorism in the European External Action Service (EEAS) and as a national diplomat in various diplomatic posts, including the Permanent Representation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to NATO. Anna’s academic background includes an MPhil in Politics from the University of Oxford and a BA in Modern History, Economic History, and Politics from Royal Holloway, University of London. Anna speaks Dutch, English, French, Spanish and German.
Mr. Serban has dedicated over 20 years to promoting and enhancing transatlantic relations, working in the ATA world and with think tanks on both sides of the Atlantic. He is a dedicated communication and public affairs specialists, active in fundraising and event management, and committed to promoting transatlantic cooperation.
His position in government, business and media have included advisor to the Prime Minister of Romania, corporate and entrepreneurial roles, academic work, interviews with heads of state and government and work with charities. As the founding President of the Euro Atlantic Council of Romania, he developed the national ATA chapter as an umbrella organization, opened to many and reuniting think tanks, research institutes, NGOs, and universities. He is also one of the longest serving members of the ATA Council, where he also held the position of Vice President.
Mr. Serban served on the “Next generation” advisory board of then SACEUR Adm. Jim Stravridis, and in recent years worked with former SACEUR Gen. James Jones on diverse issues and geographies of importance to NATO. He was decorated by the President of Romania with the National Order for Merit in the rank of Cavalier for his work on behalf of Romania’s NATO membership and attends international conferences representing Romania’s civil society and think tank community, both as speaker and organizer. His work over the years with the Atlantic Council of the US and various European think tanks have ranged from security and defence initiatives focusing on the Black Sea region, education and energy programs in the Balkans and recently on digitization and Three Seas Initiative.
In the private sector, Mr. Serban works across a broad range of industries (energy, health, telecom, defence and aviation) focusing on foreign investment and business development and also in the national security policy areas. Mr. Serban is a founding partner at Serban Musneci & Associates, a public affairs consultancy with international partners and affiliations.
He holds an MA from Columbia University (NY), a BA in Social Studies from Wresleyan University (CT), and has attended courses at the George C. Marshall Center for Security Studies (Germany) and at the National Defence College of Romania.
Selin Yılmaz is an alumnus of Yeditepe University in Istanbul and the University of Amsterdam. She is a lawyer and legal consultant and partnering a law firm. She has been a member of the Young Atlantic Treaty Association (YATA) since 2017. She had been the president of YATA Turkey and she was elected as the president of YATA International in November 2022. She was a part of the Women, Peace, and Security Task Force of ATA International, a student ambassador at the University of Amsterdam, a teaching assistant for International Business Transactions, and a member of Make a Wish.
Krista Mulenok has Master’s degrees in law and economics. She has been active in the private and security sectors for over 20 years and spent the last 11 of them as Estonian Atlantic Treaty Association’s Secretary General. She has been Atlantic Treaty Association (ATA) Vice-President since July 30 2020. She also has been a Member of NATO’s first Civil Society Advisory Panel on Women, Peace and Security.
In 2014, Estonian radio Sky Plus organized a competition for citizens to become one of the candidates in European Parliament elections. Krista won and became a successful candidate. She received invitations from five parties in Estonia to continue in politics, however, Krista declined to all of them and continued as a Secretary General in EATA, to promote defense and security questions among society.
In EATA, Krista finds it important to strengthen co-operation between NATO and the EU in security and defense field. She also supports actively women’s role in crises management and even in war, when it comes to maintaining peace.
Krista is married and has two daughters.
Amb. Elena Poptodorova
In December 2017 Amb. Elena Poptodorova was elected Vice President of the Atlantic Treaty Association (NATO – Brussels) while serving since April 2017 as Vice President and Director for Euro-Atlantic Affairs at the Atlantic Club of Bulgaria (ACB).
As of April 2020, she leads the Three Seas Initiative (3SI) program at the Atlantic Club of Bulgaria.
From 15 October 2016 until 15 March 2017 she opened and led the Regional Central European Office of AJC in Warsaw.
From August 10, 2010 until May 31, 2016, Ms. Elena Poptodorova served a second term as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Bulgaria to the United States of America.
Prior to her second appointment in Washington D.C., as of 2009, Ambassador Poptodorova was Director of the Security Policy Directorate at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria
In 2008 – 2009, the Bulgarian Government appointed her Ambassador-at-Large for the Black Sea Region.
From February 2002 to October 2008 she served her first term as Bulgaria’s Ambassador to the United States of America, when Bulgaria became member of NATO and the EU. At that time, she started the Bulgaria Caucus on the Hill and the corps of Bulgaria’s Honorary Consuls in the US.
In that period, she launched the Bulgarian schools’ network throughout the United States.
During her two terms of service amounting to a total of 13 years, she facilitated investment by major US companies in Bulgaria’s IT, energy, agricultural, defense and processing sectors, such as American Standard, Honeywell, Tishmann International, Amgen, Westinghouse, Coca Cola, AES, LM, etc.
She helped negotiate major defense cooperation and intelligence sharing agreements with the US defense and law enforcement agencies.
In 2001, prior to becoming Ambassador to the US, she served as Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Director of the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Organizations Directorate.
Earlier in her career (1990-2001) Ms. Poptodorova was elected Member of Parliament in the 7th Constituent Assembly and in the 36th, the 37th and the 38th National Assemblies of the Republic of Bulgaria. She served on the committees of foreign policy, national security, radio and TV, human rights, agriculture. She was the Deputy Chair of the Bulgarian delegation to the International Parliamentary Union (IPU), as well as member of Bulgaria’s permanent delegations to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), and the Joint Parliamentary Committee ‘Bulgaria-EU’. She also served as Deputy Chair of the Inter-European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development (IEPFPD).
From 1987 to 1990 she was minister-counselor at the Bulgarian Embassy in Rome and Bulgaria’s Consul General to the Republic of San Marino.
Ambassador E. Poptodorova joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1975 and served from 3rd secretary through minister-counselor through 1990, when she was elected Member of Bulgaria’s National Assembly. Upon leaving Parliament in 2001, she rejoined the Bulgarian diplomatic service.
She retired from civil service in October 2016.
Ms. Poptodorova earned her B.A. and M.A. degrees (1969 – 1975) at the Kliment Ohridski University of Sofia in English and Italian linguistic and literary studies, after which she attended a post-graduate course in international relations at the University of National and World Economy in Sofia. She specialized at Leeds University in the UK and University of Siena, Italy.
Ambassador Poptodorova is Doctor Honoris Causa of the Assumption College, Worcester, USA.
She is founding member of a number of Boards of Bulgarian nongovernmental organizations, among which The Atlantic Club of Bulgaria, The Centre for Regional and Geopolitical Research, The Bulgarian Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association.
She also served as Honorary Member of the Board of the Atlantic Council of the United States and member of the Boards of the Washington-based Executive Council on Diplomacy and of the Women’s Foreign Policy Group.
From 1995 until Oct.2019 Ambassador Poptodorova was member of the Board of Trustees and/or the University Council of the American University in Bulgaria (AUBG). From Oct. 2013 she was the Deputy Chair of the AUBG Board.
In 2010 she became member of the Board of the New York-based American Foundation for Bulgaria.
In 2014 she joined the Advisory Board of the Berlin - based Institute for Cultural Diplomacy, which operates as a transatlantic entity.
As of 2017 she sits on the OPI Board of The RMR Group Inc. in the United States.
In February 2020 she also joined the Board of TA (Travel Centers of America) in the US.
In March 2020 she was invited and joined the Board of the US – Bulgaria Chamber in Washington, D.C.
She engages regularly in interviews, public talks, lectures and town-hall meetings with think-tanks, universities and the media.
AWARDS AND DISTINCTIONS
2003 - The Gold Medal of Bulgaria’s Atlantic Club for promoting Bulgaria’s membership in NATO;
2003 – Gold Commemorative Medal on the occasion of 100 Years of Bulgarian-US Diplomatic Relations;
2007 - The Gold Medal of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for outstanding contribution to Bulgaria’s accession to the EU;
2008 - The Annual Award of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs of the United States of America for leadership and outstanding contribution to the empowerment of women;
2008 - Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition from the US Congress for her outstanding and invaluable service to the community;
2008 - Medal of Honor “For Valor and Merit”, I class, of Bulgaria’s Ministry of Interior, for outstanding contribution to establishing the rule of law in Bulgaria, and the enhancement of the national interest and of national and European security;
2008 - Recognition Award of the Director of the US Secret Service in appreciation of her many contributions in support of the Secret Service mission and selfless commitment to the ideals and principles of law enforcement;
2011 – Distinguished Service Award in appreciation and recognition of exceptional service and support contributing to the advancement of the American University in Bulgaria;
2013 – Nominated by expat organizations in the US and Israel “A Bulgarian of the Year” for her active engagement with the Bulgarian expat communities in the United States;
As of 2002, Ambassador Poptodorova is Honorary Member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in recognition of services rendered to the European cause.
She is fluent in English, Italian, French, Russian, Bulgarian (native). Married, with one son.
Emir Abbas Gürbüz
"Att. Emir Abbas Gurbuz is the managing partner at the Legart Law & Consultancy firm based in Istanbul. He had his LLM in National Defence University in the field of International Public Law. Currently, he is the chief director of Hariciye Center of International Relations and Security Studies and serves as board member for the Turkish Atlantic Council."
Loukas Kontakos Menenakos
Liaison officer ATA