From the event

2-4 April 2008

Young Atlanticists Summit connects young leaders in Bucharest and Kabul

Young leaders from NATO and Partner countries shared their experiences and learned more about NATO’s current and future security challenges during the Young Atlanticist Summit held during the NATO Summit in Bucharest on 2-4 April.

Over 120 university students and young professionals from 35 Alliance and Partner countries, including Afghanistan, met with NATO and national leaders and also discussed issues on the Summit agenda during debates and simulation exercises. An additional 300 students and professors at Kabul University also participated in the event through video teleconference.

You are the leaders of tomorrow,” NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said to the audiences in Bucharest and Kabul. “How you will approach the challenges of the future is up to you.  But I am certain that your generation, just like my own, will come to realize that NATO is a tremendous achievement and a precious asset – a very flexible instrument that can deliver real security in new ways and in new places”. 

Both the students in Bucharest and Kabul had the opportunity to ask the NATO Secretary General questions. The students in Kabul focused on specific questions on NATO’s long-term commitment to the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan. The connection was made possible by the NATO Virtual Silk Highway project.

The participants also met with the First Lady of the United States, Laura Bush. She highlighted the importance of Afghanistan’s democratic successes and urged the young leaders in Bucharest to learn more about the challenges faced by their peers in Afghanistan. “Your participation in the Young Atlanticist Summit complements NATO's history as a great alliance of freedom,” she said.

Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai also spoke to the participants, emphasizing the importance of “sharing and learning as a guarantee for a better tomorrow.” One of the Afghan student commented that the international community and the media should do more to to portray Afghanistan as a country on the road to development.

According to one participant, Jan Havranek: “The most impressive to me was the session with NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, which featured a video conference with students from the University of Kabul…Discussing NATO's policies with 300 young men and women in Afghanistan via internet and interacting with another 120 young professionals and students from 35 countries. Nothing could have expressed the purpose of the Alliance better than this unique moment.

The Atlantic Council of the United States, the Euro-Atlantic Council of Romania (CASA NATO) and the NATO Public Diplomacy Division organized the event.