by NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană at the 7th edition of the Bucharest Model NATO event

  • 16 Oct. 2020 -
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  • Last updated: 16 Oct. 2020 12:16

(As delivered)

Good morning all, afternoon to everybody. Dear students, speakers, participants in the Bucharest model NATO.

I want to start off by thanking you, Maria, and all of you on the organising team for inviting me to take part in this year's edition.  It's a privilege and a pleasure to engage with young audiences. So thank you for having me. In particular, when they are interested, these young groups of our population. And they're also curious about NATO. And this is why I'm here to speak this morning.

I also want to congratulate the team in Bucharest for this conference online. Not only does it make it possible for me to be with you. But also it shows how innovative and how dedicated to the Alliance you are. This is exactly the kind of expertise and the spirit we need at NATO.

NATO is the world's most successful Alliance, and we are very proud of that. And it brings together 30 countries across Europe and North America, representing nearly one billion people, and more than half of the world's economic and military might. We stand together to defend one another, and our fundamental values, freedom, democracy, human rights, rule of law.

For me, a Romanian who has lived for many years under the Communist rule, under oppression, injustice and authoritarianism, these values are very precious. And I urge you not to take, never take them for granted.

But you don't need to have experienced the past to appreciate the value of NATO today, and of NATO of tomorrow. We are reminded every day of how important it is to have friends and allies. The challenges that we are faced with are greater than any country can tackle alone. No country alone can tackle military attacks, risk of terrorism, malicious cyber activities, disinformation campaigns, the rise of China, climate change and pandemics.

What makes our Alliance so special is precisely that no country is alone in facing these challenges. This is the uniqueness. This is the strength. This is the absolute value of our Alliance. And we are only safe and strong when we are all safe and strong.

Of course, NATO Allies have their differences. And sometimes they have tough debates in the North Atlantic Council, and in other committees here in NATO. This has been the case throughout NATO's history, and is still the case today. But debate makes healthy democracies. They make our decisions stronger. And ultimately, when we reach consensus, and we do reach consensus, we speak with one voice, and we act as one. Our unity is our greatest strength.

So, in your deliberations in the coming days, don't shy away from a good debate. Bring arguments on both sides of the table. Bring the difficult questions to your conversation, make your case, negotiate, compromise, make your point. And of course, try to overcome the differences, just as we do here at NATO. Every day, every year, every decade.

And in a time of great uncertainty, when the competition of our values and our way of life is growing, we need each other even more than before. Now, and also in the future.

We need each other to shape the strategic landscape, or others will shape it for us. Regimes that are not sharing our values, like Russia or China, are trying to assert themselves on the global stage, using a range of tools to advance their interests. We cannot let them divide us, and disregard global rules.

We also need each other to ensure that we keep our technological edge in an increasingly competitive space. And I encourage you to look into this, because the West’s technological supremacy is being challenged. China and Russia are investing heavily in technologies to increase their control over their own citizens, and also exert influence in the world. We must redouble our efforts to stay ahead of the curve and remain competitive.

We all have a role, and a stake in keeping NATO strong and making it even stronger. Especially you, the next generation of leaders in our Alliance.

A few months ago. Secretary General Stoltenberg launched a reflection on NATO in the next decade. We call it ‘NATO 2030’. It's about making sure we remain ready to defend our Allies against any threat. Today and tomorrow. We are engaging with broad audiences, to get the best recommendations on the future of NATO.

Just two weeks ago, Secretary General Stoltenberg spoke to around 700 students from 10 different universities across the Alliance. They discussed the challenges that NATO is facing, including climate change.

In early November, we will host a NATO 2030 Youth Summit, bringing together next generation leaders from diverse countries and genders. Because your ideas and opinions, do matter.

So I count on you, the students taking part in the Bucharest Model NATO, to bring new ideas, new solutions to the table. Be creative, be daring, enjoy the experience. And I look forward to hearing about the outcome of your deliberations.

So Maria, dear friends, good luck with your work. We count on you, and I hope that this ‘positive virus’, have an honest, intelligent, forward-looking conversation around the NATO framework and the NATO values will also lead the way for our successful Alliance for the many, many decades to come.

Good luck. And we look forward to receiving feedback from you.