President of the Greek Association for Atlantic and European Cooperation, Mr. Theodossis Georgiou, has just come back from a week trip in three countries and four cities. The main reason for his visit in Montenegro was the ATA Council Meeting at the occasion of the 60th ATA CHAPTER LEADERSHIP SUMMIT and 2BS Forum "NATO in the 21st century: New Threats and new theaters" that was held in Budva. This year's Council Meeting gathered hundred of representatives from 36 members of ATA (ATA and YATA leaders).
In his opening address of the Leadership Summit, Dr. Karl A. Lamers, President of ATA, thanked the Atlantic Council of Montenegro for "hard and tireless effort in raising conscience on NATO integration in Montenegro". Referring to the upcoming NATO Summit, he assured it will be dedicated to a crisis in Ukraine, relations with Russia, as well as the future of NATO Alliance. He also stressed the importance of strong connections between NATO members: "Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, which binds all members to joint action, is more important than ever", Lamers concluded.
The decision made in consensus by Presidents of the Atlantic Councils and Associations, was to elect Prof. Dr. Fabrizio Luciolli from Italy as the next President of the ATA and Jason Wiseman from Canada as the next Secretary General of ATA.
Among the speakers and guests of the 2Be Secure Forum were the President of Montenegro, H.E. Mr. Filip Vujanović, U.S. Ambassador to Montenegro, and the President of the Parliament, all Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defense of countries in the region and the Assistant Secretary General of NATO, Mrs. Kolinda Grabar. President Vujanović thanked the Atlantic Council for its "capital mission with the view to activate civil society, especially when it comes to involving young people. What the Alliance guarantees is the economic and social development. NATO is not only political alliance, it also promotes fundamental social values", President Vujanović concluded.
2BS Forum is an annual high-level conference dealing with global, transatlantic issues, as well as the issues in the South-Eastern Europe. The target group of the Forum includes decision-makers, members of national parliaments, various representatives of governments and academia and other key foreign policy and security policy stakeholders. Importantly, representatives of the corporate sector also attend; chiefs and owners of influential enterprises and companies, by which the Forum becomes a floor for interacting with government representatives on the solution of current security challenges.
On the first Panel titled "The future of NATO Enlargement", the emphasis was put on issues such as criteria for further NATO enlargement, benefits and prices that enlargement entails, as well as on the role of Russia in transatlantic relations. Panelists also discussed the broad topic of public opinion about the NATO Alliance. The public often does not understand that the results are not always visible, which was the case of Croatia, but they concluded that the membership is "undoubtedly extremely valuable".
On the second Panel under the title "Afghanistan after 2014: Progress or Downfall?" panelists discussed issues such as the further development of the mission in Afghanistan that should become support mission instead of combat mission. The Panel was moderated by Ms. Barbora Maronkova, Program Officer at the Engagement Section, Public Diplomacy Division, NATO HQ. The focus of the Panel was on two issues: the greatest challenges in front of NATO, as well as the role of international community regarding ISAF mission. NATO community should help further development of Afghanistan, both in economic terms, and most importantly regarding fundamental human rights, especially rights of women. Panelists paid tribute to previous progress in Afghanistan and congratulated on recently held elections in the country. Prevention of the corruption and crime, resolving the issue of fight with the Taliban and other criminal groups, as well as providing of peaceful transition of the authority, are the challenges that remain ahead of Afghanistan and international community in the following period, it is concluded at the Panel in Budva.
The third Panel under the title "War against Terrorism: Lessons Learned and Future Prospects" addressed previous experiences of the countries such as Iran, Afghanistan, Syria and other parts of the world that are dealing with the rise of fundamentalist and extremist movements. The Panel was moderated by Mr. Jason Wiseman, from Atlantic Treaty Association. Panelists agreed that some of the issues that need to be resolved are how to create an alliance with nondemocratic states, as well as the lack of trust. Another matter, which should be noted, is demystification of the motives that cause terrorist activities throughout the world, which are not always religion-oriented. Organized crime was also a deeply discusses topic and said to be impossible to be separated from terrorism, especially drug trafficking, which should be combated by international community. Panelists disagreed regarding whether international community is successful in facing this problem, bearing in mind increasing number of victims of terrorist attacks around the world.
Emphasis was put on relations between Russia and Ukraine, as well as the role of international community, especially of NATO, the EU and the UN with the aim of resolving the crisis in Ukraine. Panelists discussed the goal and motivation of the Russian President Vladimir Putin when it comes to the role of Russia in Ukraine. They also discussed why Russia opposes further NATO and EU enlargement. Furthermore, the issue of rivalry between Russia and Ukraine imposes itself as one of the answers, according to panelists, pointing out to transfer of the conflict from NATO-Russia relation to Russia-EU relation within which the European community is perceived as a "long-term threat to Putin's concept of Euro-Asia." Panelists did not however agree on the character of situation in Ukraine, calling it both "aggression" and "preclusive imperialism".
Fifth Panel under the title "20th Anniversary of Partnership for Peace – Building Bridges across the World" addressed experience of NATO and its partners since the establishment of PfP in 1994. At the very beginning, panelists reminded why Partnership for Peace was established - the stabilization of European territory and its neighborhood. According to the Panelists, the only thing that has changed in the last twenty years is increasing ambition of involving new states. It is pointed out that the mission of PfP has still not finished, and it primarily implies two goals: stability of Europe and NATO as the seat of democracy. Discussing whether Russia is still a partner, panelists agreed that it is, but due to the current crisis in Ukraine, all further negotiations and partnerships are put on hold. PfP implies use of large capacities and its enlargement, that it continuously strives to, leads to strengthening and improvement of multinational operations, such as one in Afghanistan and others that world needs today, panelists concluded.
The last Panel under the title "Cyber Defense – New Global Battlefield" addressed the importance and needs of fifth dimension of modern national defense, i.e. cyber space. Cyber defense is a new sphere compared to traditional frames of security that nevertheless equally tends to develop prosperity and other values of NATO. Panelists drew attention to the fact that such challenges of modern times are usually underestimated, and the governments reluctantly allocate funds for such purposes. There are real threats, such as hacking or virtual money as some of the greatest risks. According to the panelists, characteristic of cyber defense is that one can never know who their enemy is during the war, which makes situation a lot more difficult. Bearing in mind dynamic of cyber space development, it is important to be flexible, but also to place cyber defense as global issue, since it is not possible to resolve it individually.
On Saturday and Sunday, on a special invitation, Mr. Georgiou visited Tirana, Albania, where he participated in the Inauguration of the Orthodox Cathedral, Resurrection of Christ, which was build with the efforts of Archbishop of Albania, Anastasios. His All-Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I consecrated the Cathedral and heads of the Orthodox Church from numerous countries including Greece and Russia were presents as well as the Patriarchs from Jerusalem (Theofilos), Serbia (Irineos), Romania Daniel) and Archbishops from Athens (Ieronymos), Cyprus (Chrusostom), Warsaw (Savas), Tirana (Anastasios) as well as Metropolitans representing the patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch, Moscow, Sofia and Tbilisi. The President of Albania, Mr. Bujar Nishani, the Prime Minister, Mr. Edi Rama, the Chairman of the Parliament, Mr. Ilir Meta, as well as the opposition leader, Mr. Lulzim Basha, and many Ministers and MPs from Albania and a lot of foreign diplomats were also present at this ceremony held in spiritual glory.
On Monday, Mr. Georgiou went to Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro, visiting different entities, including the Greek Embassy, where he had a meeting with H.E. Mr. Ilias Fotopoulos. On Tuesday, Mr. Georgiou went to Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, where he met Ambassador of Greece, H.E. Mr. Economides Constantine. He had a great chance to present to both Ambassadors the educational program of GAAEC – The International Center for Leading Studies and The International Academy for Advanced Studies. He also had different meetings at the Mediterranean University and the Public Policy Institute in Podgorica. Interesting discussion on future cooperation in the field of education evolved during all the meetings, which for GAAEC and TICLS is extremely valuable as the cooperation with Balkan countries is one of the main aims to be achieved both in long and short terms perspective.
In Belgrade Mr. Georgiou met with Deans and professors of Belgrade State University and Megatrend University as well as he visited NATO Liason Office in Belgrade on the way to recruit students and invite professors for The International Academy for Advanced Studies and Chania-Med Forum in Crete this summer.
Mr. Georgiou also had a long talk with Professor dr. Negoslav P. Ostojic, Executive Director of the United Nations-mandated University for Peace/European Center for Peace and Development. In the ECPD headquarters, Mr. Georgiou participated in a round table session concerning economic crisis in Cyprus with a lot of Serbian and Cypriot academics.
He had a chance to meet and discuss various issues with CEOs and Presidents of both Greek and multinational companies and banks in order to raise their interest in TICLS as our future sponsors in the three countries.
In most of the meetings in Belgrade there was present Prof. Ambassador Mr. Dusan Batakovic, who has been affiliated with our programs and the member of our Educational Board for a long time.
Mr. Georgiou also met many alumni of our educational programs in all of these capitals. He admits that seeing successful young professionals – alumni of GAAEC's various program, is both touching and giving lots of satisfaction and further encouragement for next educational programs, seminars and conferences targeted at the bright minds of the young generation.