The “Outcome of Strasbourg/Kehl NATO Summit” and “Communicating Atlantic Values in the 21st century” were the two lectures that followed lunch in the afternoon of the second day on the 14th PAYS.
Beginning the conference, Samuel de Paiva Pires, president of the Portuguese Atlantic Youth Association, pass forward to the participants his conclusions about the Strasbourg/Kehl NATO Summit. Having been present in the Summit that occurred in April, Samuel started by giving the audience a historic background on NATO, why it was created, the deterrence during the cold war ant its reconfiguration after the fall of the Berlin Wall, mentioning the mutation suffered by NATO during the 90s and its adaptations to the global challenges that pass beyond peace and stability, ranging from the nuclear proliferation, terrorism, enlargement and the new partnerships. Those were the challenges that led to the Summit and to the acceptance of the draft of the new strategic concept. Taking advantage of its political capital, Barack Obama, not only endorse the adjustment of NATO’s strategic concept, but also asked the Europeans for a larger support in Afghanistan and brought the need for “sharing burdens”, not only military, but human, political and financial. Other highlights of the Summit were: the French reconciliation within NATO and it’s reintegration in the military structure; the official membership of Albania and Croatia; the presentation of priorities to Afghanistan and the need to reestablish relations with Russia.
With the next lecturer, Giuseppe Belardetti, president of the Youth Atlantic Treaty Association (YATA), the participants got presentation/formation on how to communicate Atlantic values in today’s world. Speaking from his personal experience, Giuseppe believes that despite the efforts made by NATO, the organization still can’t get trough its message to the average citizen, being its mission and goals damaged by the lack of an understandable approach to the public. Due to that, it’s easier to dissociate the values from the institution, passing forward the common history, ideology and politics between USA, Canada and Europe. Focusing specially on young people, Bellardetti talked about the need to inform teenagers, college students and young professional about what is NATO, and told the audience how to make it efficient and appealing. In what regards YATA, he defends the importance of its national or regional role in getting people involved, spreading the importance of the organization and its goals. The YATA associations can, in some circumstances, be more effective spreading information to the public and especially reaching young people (a difficult target for NATO public diplomacy). The media role and the importance of positive information were also topics on his presentation.
The lectures were followed by an intense debate with contributions from many participants of different nationalities.