Athens, November 24-26, 2005
On November 24-26 the Greek Association for Atlantic & European Cooperation (GAAEC) has organized its 15th annual Symposium on security and foreign policy issues, under the general theme: Stability and Cooperation in the EuroAtlantic area – Greece in the New Environment.
Since 1991, the year of the 1st International Symposium, a tradition has been established and has become well-known through the years.
The venue was the prestigious Amphitheatre of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. GAAEC brought together Ministers, Ambassadors, Diplomats, Military Officers, University Students, and Representatives of national ATA's and the general public, covering the vast field of security issues concerning Greece and the World in the 21st century.
The Celebration Dinner
On the 24th November, the Annual International Symposium started with a celebration dinner for the 15th year anniversary at the Sarogleion Officers' Club. The approximately 95 guests who attended included most of the Ambassadors in Greece, businessmen, journalists, and members of GAAEC.
The guest speaker, Mr. Spilios Spiliotopoulos, Minister of National Defense, stated "...it is common understanding that the international geo-political and geo-strategic environment is characterised by dynamically evolving situations, unforeseeable conditions, antagonisms and new security threats and challenges, which undermine efforts of the international community to ensure progress and prosperity. The international situation demands co-operation of all countries and undertaking of initiatives with a common objective, in a spirit of mutual trust and solidarity"... He then stated "...Greece, being a member of the European Union, of NATO, of the Security Council for the current 2-year term and chairing the Cooperation Process in South-eastern Europe, seeks and works at all levels for the realization of our main target, that is to achieve security, stability, development and progress for the broader region. The cornerstone of our policy is the development of bilateral relations of equality and Greece's active role within the framework of international organizations, with an extensive participation in both planning and implementing their activities".
"...NATO remains open to European nations, which are willing and able to assume the respective obligations and responsibilities, deriving from the status of membership, thus proving that it is an international organization ruled by the values and ideals of the liberal– democratic model. Greece has supported and continues to do so, the European vision of all our neighbouring countries. We focus our action on this perspective, and commit significant part of our politico-diplomatic efforts, in order to enhance and facilitate the Balkan nations to become equal members of a dynamic and democratic European Union".
"...it is, therefore, obvious that nations candidate for accession, should take into consideration that the way to a European prospect requires full compliance to the criteria and principles, established in the negotiations context, along with the pre-assumption that the pending issues of the past must be resolved through consultation and mutually accepted solutions. We reiterate that unilateral demands and arbitrary interpretation or violation of the provisions of international law are not consistent with the European "acquis communautaire" and with the principles and values actually prevailing in the international community".
"...additionally, we actively participate in the procedure of NATO's internal reform and external adaptation, being part of programmes, missions and operations of the Alliance. NATO has gradually adapted itself to the new environment, exercising its political role and re-orienting its approach to military doctrine issues, sufficiency and readiness. The Alliance has proven in action all its impressive capability to adjust itself to new circumstances. NATO redefines its mission, in a way also to focus on the world fight against terrorism. This means that its member nations have to intensify their efforts to upgrade their military capabilities and further ensure their interoperability".
The first Day of the Symposium
"The European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Association (NATO) have a catalytic role to play in terms of safeguarding security and peace, a task that Greece has contributed to and will continue to do so", Minister of Foreign Affairs Petros Molyviatis said, in his speech, following the welcome remarks of Theodossis Georgiou, President of GAAEC and of Troels Froling, Secretary General of ATA.
Petros Molyviatis also stated that "NATO is a particularly successful Organization, because it is obvious that NATO has succeeded in its mission. And for us, its mission is to preserve peace. Europe is already in the midst of the longest period of peace in its history, and the role of NATO and the European Union in this achievement is significant. More specifically, NATO played this role throughout the tensions of the Cold War era, and continues to play it today in an era of cooperation. It played this role during the Cold-War era through readiness for war – si vis pacem, para bellum – and is playing this role in today's era of cooperation by adapting to the new conditions, the new world, that took shape following the end of the Cold War. Today, NATO's old foes have become either members or strategic partners of NATO, and all together we are working for peace and jointly confronting new threats. Greece is among the oldest members of NATO. Our relations have not always been trouble-free, but throughout these years, with our active participation, we have contributed, and continue to contribute, to the establishing of security and the preservation of peace".
Theodossis Georgiou reiterated that 2005 is a very important year for the EU, on the European as well as the Euroatlantic front, and that the Symposium will be devoted on these two dimensions. He continued by mentioning that "Regarding NATO, three neighboring countries are intensely working on their integration process. The Greek Association for Atlantic and European Cooperation, in cooperation with the Atlantic Associations of Bulgaria and Romania, is ready and willing to extend our support to our colleagues in Albania, Croatia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Furthermore, the insecurity that is reflected in the current era due to International Terrorism, can only be confronted through collective efforts and with the capabilities that experienced collective International Organisations, like NATO, EU and OSCE can provide". The President of GAAEC also presented the new and enhanced role of NGO's, especially those of Euroatlantic Associations that can assist in solidifying an atmosphere of trust among nations. The new dimensions of security in our times make the question for new ways of communication between people, that much more important.
Troels Froling referred to the role of the Atlantic Treaty Association and transmitted a message from the President of ATA (Atlantic Treaty Association), Ambassador Robert Hunter who stated that "...you meet at an important time in the transformation of the NATO Alliance transatlantic relations, and the NATO-EU partnership. This is particularly true as NATO moves decisively "out of area," not just to the Balkans but to the Middle East and beyond. The Mediterranean region and its countries, on all its shores, have taken on a new importance, as have the nations of the Middle East. NATO's Mediterranean Dialogues and Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, along with the EU's Barcelona Process, in our common effort to promote security, stability, cooperation, and development throughout the North Atlantic region and far beyond. Greece's role, always important in the Alliance, is taking on added significance. With its close allies and partners, it is playing a critical leadership role in this pivotal region; and what you are discussing at the Symposium goes right to the heart of our new agenda, our new set of challenges. The Atlantic Treaty Association, fresh from success at its 51st General Assembly in Tallinn, will profit from what the Greek Association is doing -- including the key emphasis not just on engaging people in this region but in involving a new generation of alliance leadership..."
NATO Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy, Jean Fournet, US and Russian Ambassadors to Greece Charles Ries and Andrey Vdovin, as well as former President of Austria's Parliament, Werner Fasslabend noted in their speeches that in order to effectively address emerging, complex threats, there is a need of coordination on an international level, through multilateral structural partnerships, and governed by consensus. This coordination must take into account the interests of each side which in its turn will have a specific role to play.
The first panel was moderated by Theodoros Kouloumbis, General Director, Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP), who also introduced the speakers.
NATO Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy Jean Fournet emphasized that no country on its own is able to tackle the problems of the 21st century. Therefore, according to him, the new key word is cooperation in order to reach the desired level of collective security. He also stated that NATO has no intention to become the world's policeman, neither to be the servant of the United States. We need a "complex network with cooperation within the international community", he stated.
H.E. the Ambassador of the US to Greece Charles Ries stated that the contribution of Greece to NATO's successes was significant and also benefited the country. He reiterated the reasons that led to the US recognizing the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) by its constitutional name, "Republic of Macedonia" and called on Greece and its neighbor to agree on a new modus vivendi. He also expressed optimism regarding Kosovo and said he was against the creation of a so-called Great Albania. As for Turkey, Reis said that it had the ideal system within the Islamic world of ensuring the peaceful co-existence of Islam and Democracy, although he admitted that there was room for improvement.
H.E. the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Greece Andrey Vdovin described the potential for cooperation between NATO, the EU and Russia as positive, provided Russia's interests are taken into consideration, and he underlined the fact that Russia is actively involved in negotiations for peace in the Middle East. Regarding the Caucasus issue, Russia has asked that the involved parties resolve it with the help of third parties. However, Russia does not want any solutions imposed upon it.
These official statements were followed by Werner Fasslabend, MP, Former Minister of National Defence, Austria and Former President of the Austrian National Assembly who offered new practical concepts for tackling the current problems in a new security environment, dominated for the first time in history by international organizations, although there is a single dominator; the United States of America. According to Fasslabend, "terrorism is just a tactical method", the result of the shift of power from the conventional level towards the sub-conventional level, which cannot be named as terrorism. He expressed his deep belief that this is the time for Europe to be the exporter of security through military and civilian contribution.
In the next panel – NATO & EU: a strategic partnership? – in his introductory remarks Ioannis Bourlogiannis - Tsaggaridis, Ambassador a.h., Diplomatic Advisor to the Minister of National Defense, quoted "Don't sell your umbrella because it stopped raining", referring to the fact that NATO is needed even after the Cold War and in this new security environment we need to find the "optimum distribution of duties".
Vassilios Maghinas, MP, President of the Defence & Foreign Affairs Committee, Hellenic Parliament, highlighted the differences between the EU and NATO. According to him, NATO uses military means, while the EU employs political and economic means. The organisations' close cooperation would be more beneficial if Turkey did not obstruct it by refusing to recognize the Republic of Cyprus. He reiterated the support of Greece on Turkey's EU accession, saying that should Turkey become marginalized there is a greater risk of bilateral relations becoming strained. He also referred to Greek – Albanian relations, pointing out that certain behaviors have emerged recently "which are bothersome and cannot be accepted". As for FYROM, Maghinas reiterated that Greece will accept its neighbor in other international organizations only by the name FYROM or another name which both sides will agree on. Finally, he also referred to other foreign policy issues, noting that power and strength prevail in international relations rather than what is just. "Understanding this reality will help promote foreign policy".
In this panel, Werner Fasslabend had the floor also as a European Union political personality. He called the EU as a global actor and called the constitutional treaty as a pragmatic step towards the long desired political union. He also stated that there are European tasks in the world but we cannot become a No.1 power. Concerning the new enlargement he put the question "Will the EU mature to take over Turkey?" He referred to the EU constitution, predicting that it will not be ratified in its initial form and asked that the EU's political unity and military potential be promoted. Referring to Turkey, he said that Austria is not against its EU accession, although the country is not yet mature for membership, but also questioned whether the EU will be mature in 10-15 years when Turkey is set to join, to accept such a large country. On Kosovo, he said that a solution will eventually be found, taking into consideration the views of both the Albanian majority and the Serbian – Montenegro minority.
He was followed by the Former Minister of National Defence, Apostolos Tsochatzopoulos who stated that the concept of EU and NATO as strategic partners means taking decisions together on security strategy and specific methods of intervention. "If the US wishes to play a separate, autonomous role, this will weaken NATO's role, since this is the par excellence forum where security issues are discussed".
Sergiu Celac, Ambassador of Romania to Greece, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, called the NATO & EU as complementary assets, which have to work together to encourage the cooperation. Concerning Kosovo, he stated that a proper examination is being made so as to avoid future situations like this somewhere else in the world by some other parties.
The afternoon panel dealt with 'The New Security Environment & the Role of the Civil Society' moderated by Despina-Ino Afentouli, Liaison Officer for Greece, PDD, NATO HQ.
Jean Fournet, opened the session expressing the tasks and the assets of NATO Public Diplomacy to enhance the involvement of the civil society. He referred to the recent international exercise, organized by Greece and held within the framework of NATO's Mediterranean Dialogue. He said that we need to convince the general public to be involved with security matters because their relatives are the ones who are sent to the battlefields' of Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. Jean Fournet also stated that critical questions, critics and the media should play a more significant role concerning these issues.
Several representatives of the civil society – think tanks, NGOs, institutes – were also invited. Charalambos Papasotiriou, representative, Ιnstitute of International Relations (IDIS), and Konstantinos Ifantis, President, Hellenic Center for European Studies (EKEM), said that in Greece we are facing an underdeveloped civil society in comparison with its western counterparts. Athanasios Dokos, Director of Studies, Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP), said about the awareness of the general public that "If the world does not provide help [assistance] to Afghanistan, the rest of the world will need help because of Afghanistan, later on".
Charalambos Tsardanidis, Director, Institute of International and Economic Relations, (IDOS), mentioned the connection between NATO and the business sector as an aspect of social corporate responsibility, while Ioannis Parissis, Director, Institute of Defense Analysis, said that professional armies and mercenaries to some extent need to be regarded as part of the business sector.
After some critical questions – in Greece the anti-Americanism is quiet vivid – about the role of the United States in the world security, Dr Fournet said that there is " a gap [between Europe and US] because the US is running while we are lagging behind."
The fourth panel during the first day of the conference was titled 'NATO's Transformation'. The chair of the panel, Arian Starova, Vice-President, Atlantic Treaty Association, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, President, Atlantic Association of Albania tried to give a full insight regarding the future prospects. According to Petri Karabina, Deputy Minister of National Defense of Albania, NATO is changing itself slowly through its enlargement process and broadened cooperation like the Partnership for Peace the Active Endeavor and the Mediterranean Dialogue. He also mentioned the peacekeeping contribution of Albania which is conducted in the spirit of a future NATO membership.
Fabrizio Luciolli, Professor, Center for High Defense Studies, Secretary General of Comitato Italiano Atlantico, expressed his belief on the need of an extended Mediterranean Cooperation in order to cover the whole area, although there is a risk of being accused of supporting non democratic countries. We, therefore, need a deeper ATA involvement to enhance coordination so as to reach a higher level of effectiveness.
Mary Bossis, Political Analyst, Specialist in Terrorism Issues, said that NATO needs information based operations and new level of cooperation in the fields of law enforcement, immigration, finance, interior and boarder policies to avoid new hot spots. According to her, we need 'Protection Plans' which could show us the weak points but also evaluate our mission capabilities.
The last speaker of the day was Bernandino Gomes, President of the Portuguese Atlantic Committee, who dealt with New Atlantic Security Issues, namely Energy Control and Natural Resources in the context of Africa. He focused on a small country, the Republic of Cap Verde, which is a case study of a free and democratic country in Africa, not to mention its strategic location at the South Atlantic. According to Mr. Gomes, this will be the next important region of the world regarding energy policy.
The Second Day of the Symposium
The first panel was 'NATO & the ATA – New Role, New Missions'. The first topic was moderated by Avgustina Tzvetkova, Vice-President, Atlantic Treaty Association of Bulgaria and was aimed to discuss the deficit of communication between NATO and the ATA.
Troels Froling and Theodossis Georgiou emphasized the role of education in order to create an open-minded next generation of leaders. After them, Francois Moreau De Balasy, Honorary President of the Atlantic Association of France, held his remarks in history. According to him, the participation and contribution of the civil society is very important so as to acknowledge democracy.
In the second panel 'Women's contribution in establishing security', focused on questions of gender involvement in issues of international security, was moderated by Ioannis Tzannetakos, journalist. Aliki Mitsakos, Chairperson of the Committee on Science & Education of GAAEC, presented the background on gender issues as they are dealt with the decisions and directives of the UN and the EU, also criticizing the language slanting on occasions. She also presented the Women In International Security (WIIS), an international NGO program promoting for more women involvement in the field of security, national and international.
She was followed by Rodi Kratsa - Tsagaropoulou, Member of the European Parliament, New Democracy Party, who said that today we have a 'female deficit', and this is an obstacle in expressing the whole society.
Katerina Marneri - Katsambe, Deputy Major of Athens, criticized the quotas regarding women and she said that there should be a "qualitative dimension not just a quantitative one".
Meropi Kaldi, President of the Research Centre for Gender Equality, called for greater women involvement in International Security because according to her the women are those who help 'create the conditions to win peace'. She said that women have the comparative advantage in the promotion of non-violence means in fighting terrorism.
Zehra Odyakmaz, Professor, Chairwoman of the Institution of Ombudsmanship Act Preparation Commission of Turkey, started her presentation with a quotation: "If you teach a man you taught an individual if you teach a woman you taught a nation". She asked several questions as well: "Why the women are not interested in politics? Why they are not part of politics? Why they cannot be a part of politics?" According to her the basic problem is lack of time and the lack of supporting mechanisms. She suggested elimination of discrimination and new training courses both to males and females because this can be the key issue. She sees the tasks of mothers to encourage their daughters and to teach their sons to avoid discrimination.
She was followed by Katerina Papakosta - Sidiropoulou, MP, Secretary of Women Department of New Democracy Party, according to who "women are not victims any more but they are the necessary means". She also underlined that through the new perspectives of the Ministry of National Defence, women have the opportunity to develop and acknowledge their capabilities through long-lasting educational programs. She also invited women to empower their presence professionally in security organizations.
The last speaker of the day, was Anna Karamanou, Former Member of the European Parliament, PASOK, Greece. She tried to reach the topic in a totally different way. She asked: 'What does man mean?' She quoted Fukuyama that "the world was created by men" and she stated that "most probably the more balanced distribution of power would create the more balanced world order".
1. Marianna Fyrippi, LLB/LAW, current student in Greek law,
University of Athens
2. Attila Homoki, Student of International Relations, Hungary
3. Katerina Loutzakis, Graduate student of Business Administration, Athens University of Economics and Business
Prof. Dr. Aliki Mitsakos – Georgiou MD, Chairperson of Education & Science Committee, GAAEC