Young professionals in foreign policy debate with NATO

  • 07 Mar. 2012 -
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  • Last updated: 14 Mar. 2012 10:14

As part of its engagement with young people, NATO partnered with the Brussels branch of Young Professionals in Foreign Policy (YPFP) on Wednesday 7 March to discuss Turkey’s 60 years in the Alliance.

Over 100 YPFP Brussels members attended the evening policy debate. Opening comments were given by His Excellency Haydar Berk, Turkish Ambassador to NATO and Assistant Secretary General for Defence Policy Planning Hüseyin Diriöz, as well as Member of the European Parliament Marietje Schaake and David Henry Doyle, Executive Director of YPFP Brussels.

Turkey has a young and dynamic population,” says Ambassador Berk. “Engaging the youth in Turkey’s foreign and security policy is crucial. Informing young audiences about NATO’s importance as a collective security organization, its role in facing new security challenges, as well as Turkey’s contributions to NATO, will help increase public support for the Alliance.”

Questions and answers

The lively and sometimes controversial debate focused on the role Turkey has played in the Alliance during the last 60 years and the pivotal role it could play in the future due to its geographical, historical and cultural importance. Turkey will continue to be an important ally as NATO seeks to further engage partners, particularly in the Mediterranean and the Gulf region, and as it keeps its door open to European democracies that share Alliance values and can contribute to its missions.

“Our monthly debates with high-level representatives are a crucial part of providing young professionals with the opportunity to engage with senior policy makers,” explains Doyle, who opened the debate to YPFP Brussels members for questions and comments.

In addition to discussing the importance of Turkey’s role in NATO, questions and comments also focused on MEP Schaake’s remarks about her role in supporting Turkey’s candidacy for membership in the European Union, and the problems that this expansion faces.

Fostering the successor generation

“YPFP is a non-profit organization aimed at fostering the next generation of foreign policy leaders by providing our members with the necessary skills, knowledge and exposure to current and future geopolitical challenges” says Doyle, the Executive Director Brussels of YPFP Brussels. Staffed by volunteers, YPFP has 10 000 members worldwide and has grown to 1300 active members in Brussels since its establishment in April 2008.

“NATO’s support for this debate and for YPFP has been remarkable and we are truly appreciative of their efforts to engage with young professionals,” adds Doyle. “The turnout for the event speaks for itself: young people want to engage on international security issues. I’m delighted that NATO recognizes the value in strengthening this dialogue by working with an organization like YPFP.”