From the event



28 Mar 2008


with NATO Assistant Secretary General for the Public Diplomacy Division, Jean-Francois Bureau on the preparations for the Bucharest Summit

Q:  We are here today with NATO's Assistant Secretary General for the Public Diplomacy Division, Jean-François Bureau.  Welcome and thank for coming to talk to us. 

JEAN-FRANÇOIS BUREAU (NATO's Assistant Secretary General for the Public Diplomacy Division): Thank you.

Q:  Mister Bureau, the Bucharest Summit only a few days away.  What would you say are the main public diplomacy activities planned in the build up?  And could you maybe give us a few examples?

BUREAU:  Yes, of course, you know, a NATO summit is always a big event which draws the attention of the members of Parliaments, the journalists, the analysts, the scholars, the academicians, and I would say of a larger public.  This summit would be the largest in the history of NATO with more than 60 heads of States and Governments, the highest responsibles from UN, EU, the World Bank and of Afghanistan indeed. 

So the public diplomacy activities have to raise the interest and to explain what is the substance of such a summit.  We shall have seminars especially with the young generation. 

We shall have an exhibit, a new exhibit which will use a lot of audiovisual materials. Because we strongly believe that if we want to connect with the young people we will have to show them how we work and what we are doing.  And we had also an event some days ago in the EURO of Constanta where an Italian frigate came. It was an event for the town.  It was also an event for the journalists for all the staff, all the crew of these boats which will join very soon now the Operation Active Endeavour.  So the public diplomacy activities are large, very diverse and at the same time have one main purpose: to engage with the people, to dialogue, and to give much more understanding of what we are and what we do.

Q:  Could you please elaborate a bit more on the upcoming TV Channel project?  Why do you think this project is so important to NATO?

BUREAU:  You are right.  This is a very important project.  Because with this online TV, NATO is changing its way to address to the public.  We shall focus on videos, footages which we want to be updated, which we want to be accurate, which we want to be engaging, because we strongly believe that the image is a huge way to communicate with the largest publics. 

This project has found a strong support from nations, from NATO nations and especially from the Danish government.  And I have to say that we are very much grateful to the Danish support we have found to implement this process.

It will need a lot of changes.  It will need a new way to communicate.  It will be a cultural change in the way we are working at NATO HQ.  And in this way, it will change a lot and transform our communication policy.  I think it is probably for the next few years the most important endeavor we can think about for NATO communication and reaching a new period of time because that's the purpose.

Q:  Looking ahead at NATO's political and operations agenda, where do you see is the main communication challenges?

BUREAU:  I think that we have three main challenges.  The first one is to take into account the new missions NATO has to fulfill.  The organization has changed a lot during the last 16 years, since the end of the Cold War.  And NATO is now dealing with many more challenges than before. And this is something which has to be explained because it is quite unknown, it is much more complex than it was before.  And it provides a huge spectrum of new activities which are not so familiar with the public. 

The second challenge in my view is to address to those who were born after the end of the Cold War.  If we think that next year, the 60th Anniversary Summit, NATO will also include new responsibles of 20 years old.  They will have always known NATO since the end of the Cold War.  So it is a new generation which is coming to responsibilities.  And in our view, they have to know, they have to understand, and have to be interested with what NATO does. 

And thirdly, I would say that we have to transform ourselves.  NATO has been able... has been able to manage a huge transformation doing this last year.  And the strategic communications are now being very much transformed by the new technologies; by the way people are connecting to information.  And we have to manage this change which is a very challenging one.  And to address a large part of the public opinions, larger parts, less specialist is something which is very difficult and we have to learn to work a lot on this, on those issues, but the substance of what NATO does provide a lot of information, a lot of stories to be delivered.  And we are sure it will raise the interest of the public we want to address to.

Q:  Monsieur Bureau, you have only been in your position as Assistant Secretary General for NATO's Public Diplomacy Division for a few months. What have been your main challenges?  And what are your priorities for the coming months?

BUREAU:  My main challenge is to help the organization to transform itself with regards to its communication policy, to its public diplomacy policy.  We are moving in a transformation process which is a large one.  And we are doing that with the support of nation.  As with all NATO does, communication needs the support of nation.  We are working on the basis of the consensus. 

And this is not only a very challenging issue but also a very interesting and fascinating one, being able to bring together 26 nations and maybe more following the summit on this question of what should be the NATO for the future.  How should we address to the people we want to interest in what we do?  How can the young people be interested to what we do?  All these questions are really not only very difficult but also very fascinating.  And I can say that I have a job which a much interest for.