NATO Secretary General outlines future NATO at Youth Summit

  • Last updated: 03 Aug. 2009 10:13

NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer engaged today in an open debate with young people from almost 60 nations about "NATO in 2020: What Lies Ahead". This fourth Youth Summit is held on the occasion of the NATO Summit meeting in Strasbourg/Kehl from 2-3 April and is organised by NATO's Public Diplomacy Division, the Atlantic Treaty Association (ATA), the Office Franco-Allemand Pour La Jeunesse, France3 Alsace, and the Ecole National d’Administration (ENA).

Opening remarks by NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer at the Youth Forum

This youth event allowed the Secretary General to share some of his thoughts about “what kind of future we will be living in by 2020, and about what kind of NATO we want”. He encouraged the participants to actively supply their ideas on what should be done “here and now to ensure that our vision of ‘NATO 2020’ becomes reality”.

Mr. De Hoop Scheffer highlighted three key features of a future NATO: 1. It should be much more embedded in the broader concert of international institutions; 2. NATO at 2020 will need to have transformed military capabilities; 3. NATO's size will have changed, encompassing more new members as well as partner nations across the globe.

He gave some personal suggestions on what could be done now to help develop a ‘NATO at 2020’. First, NATO’s role as a forum for political debate should be expanded. Given the growing diversity of challenges, the NATO response will not be automatic but will require informed debate, for example on issues like energy or cyber security, security implications of climate change, etc.

Second, NATO has to succeed in Afghanistan as the outcome of the ISAF mission will have an impact on how NATO is perceived by the rest of the world. NATO has shown it doesn’t flinch when the going gets rough, while being able to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances.

Thirdly, NATO needs to take its Comprehensive Approach much further by strengthening the recently agreed Joint UN-NATO Declaration and developing a broad understanding among all key institutional actors, both civilian and military. Fourth, the NATO-Russia relationship needs to get back on track, in view of Russia’s special weight and importance in European security and beyond. It’s not always an easy partnership, but both NATO and Russia have an interest to identify areas where they can cooperate.

Finally, NATO needs to develop a new Strategic Concept, recognizing the main changes in the international security environment since 1999 and to set out NATO’s role and relevance in the next few years. The Secretary General concluded by calling upon the successor generation to share their views and ideas in the process of drafting a new Strategic Concept.