On the 22 March 2017 Ms Rose Gottemoeller, Deputy Secretary-General of NATO gave a public lecture entitled “Adapting to a More Dangerous World” in the Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade (IFAT). Ms Gottemoeller visited IFAT on the occasion of the NATO Transformation Seminar held in Budapest between 22 and 24 March.
In his opening statement H.E. Márton Schőberl, Director-General of the Institute, emphasized the commitment of Hungary towards transatlantic relations and highlighted the need for adjusting the organization of NATO to face the new challenges of our era. Referring to a previous conference on the European Union and Western Balkans, also held in the Institute just two weeks ago, Ambassador Schőberl found it to be a paradox that we still have to call attention to the need for strengthening the role of the EU in the Western Balkans. He added that many started to feel the negative impact of losing the credibility of the European perspective and it generates a slightly positive turn in their attitude towards the Western Balkans. He quoted Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy that “[…] the door is open for any country in the Western Balkans. This is not the “enlargement” of our Union rather its “reunion” – as the Western Balkans is part of Europe.” Furthermore, Ambassador Schőberl stressed the role of NATO in the region and its contribution to peace-keeping and fostering democratic change.
In her speech, Ms Gottemoeller applauded Hungary’s commitments towards NATO, highlighting the participation of the Hungarian Defence Force in the crises management missions in Kosovo and Afghanistan, the latest establishment of the NATO Integration Force Unit (NIFU) in Székesfehérvár and the future deployment of a Hungarian infantry company to the Baltics. Concerning the future of NATO, adaptability was underlined by Ms Gottemoeller as a key factor ensuring that the organization remained able to maintain its role in the international sphere after the Cold War and during the 1990s as well when the organization launched its first crisis management operations. Moreover, the organization faced new challenges again after the Ukrainian conflict when the enhancement of collective security came into focus. She also underscored that the role of NATO does not pose any threat, but rather serves to prevent conflict and promote the basic principles upon which it was created. Therefore, talking about Russia Ms Goettemoeller said that apart from the continuation of a strong defence planning the openness for dialogue with Moscow is very important for NATO.
The enlargement of partnerships is not a new topic in the alliance, currently the organization has 41 such relations with other nations, not counting the international organizations (such as the United Nations or the International Committee of the Red Cross), added the Deputy Secretary-General. The latest partnership was established with Colombia. About the relation between the EU and NATO she told that further possibilities of cooperation are being examined at the moment in 40 different military and non-military areas as well. However, the essence of their collaboration should not be competition but interoperability and complementarity.
Answering for the questions of the audience Ms Goettemoeller confirmed that that the role of NATO is to defend and deter simultaneously and in parallel with this she said that beyond the continuation of dialogue with Russia upholding the sanctions imposed for the annexation of Crimea is equally important. The Cold War was a different situation as the one we are experiencing right now, she noted. The greatest difference is in the lines of communication. During the Cold War the means and possibilities of communication between the two blocks were very limited, nowadays it is more open; although, we should be careful regarding media disinformation. Regarding the case of Brexit, Ms Goettemoeller does not expect it to have a huge impact on the alliance and reminded the audience that the UK is one of its founding members as well.
Several questions concerned the Trump administration, but the Deputy-Secretary General drew attention to the dangers of judging the meeting of President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel based solely on the media. Germany continues to be a leading partner in the alliance and nothing is wrong with discussion and debate, she added. The one thing we need to focus on is balancing between the two. Ms Goettemoeller named President Trump a great ally on the topic of defence spending and with whom it is a common interest to encourage member states to increase their spending.
The presence of NATO in the Wester Balkans has been already well-established and it tries to be as flexible as possible in terms of individual partner projects, told the Deputy-Secretary General, adding that there are still many significant challenges in the region and to face them she highlighted the importance of institution-building and the enhancement of defence capacity. Instability, livelihood and corruption are persistent problems and addressing the question of the Ambassador of Romania Ms Goettemoeller had the highest regard for the people of Romania. Furthermore the Deputy Secretary General reminded the audience how important it is to fight against corruption and that one of the basic principles of NATO is the rule of law.