• Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said: NATO has survived because weve always had frank conversations. 
  • UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: NATO is a civilian-led alliance of democratic states.
  • Polish President Dudas message to Macron: Dont talk about the brain of NATOplease propose to us what can we do to improve our cooperation in NATO, in the European Union. 
  • NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said:Im a politician, and Im used to being criticised for good rhetoric but bad substance. In the case of NATO, it is the opposite. We have had bad rhetoric but extremely good substance. 

Held in NATOs inaugural home of London, and ahead of tomorrows NATO Leaders Meeting, NATO Engages: Innovating the Alliance brought together some 1600 policymakers, officials from think tanks and universities, and members of the public – over 50% of whom were under 30 – at Westminster Central Hall.   

The event examined NATOs enduring future, facilitating broader conversation and examining how the Alliance deals with geopolitical uncertainty, changing threats and new opportunities.  

Among the highlights of the day: 

  • UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace cited the need for a threefold approach to sustaining the alliance, comprising investment, innovation and solidarity, noting that NATO is a civilian-led alliance of democratic states we succeed through trusting that we have each others back. This is our strength. 
  • Polish President Andrzej Duda said, We know there are tensions in the EU and NATO, but can you show me the greatest successes of the entire world in a place other than those two alliances? No. 
  • Responding to President Macrons controversial comments on a brain deathof NATO, President Duda said: If you hear the voice of Mr President Macron, yes, I would like to ask him: Mr President, dont talk about the brain of the of the NATO and et cetera, et cetera.  Lets please propose to us what can we do to improve our cooperation in NATO, in the European Union, yes? 
  • The PM of North Macedonia described how his country had so much belief in NATO, in unity, in stability. So much that we changed our constitutional name, we became The Republic of North Macedonia. 
  • Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg described recent public discord among member states as natural for a politically led alliance, noting, Im a politician, and Im used to being criticised for good rhetoric but bad substance. In the case of NATO, it is the opposite. We have had bad rhetoric but extremely good substance. 
  • On the question of a wise personssteering group, the Secretary-General commented that I expect we will agree on a process to strengthen the political dimension of NATO, while noting that on the potential addition of Georgia and Ukraine to NATO, the decisiontaken in 2008 for them to be invited to join still stands. 
  • Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg acknowledged the security challenges of climate change, calling it the big insecurity creator these days. Climate change will lead to more migration, to more conflicts, the greater instability. That fuels extremism and extremism is a global problem.’ 
  • In a joint session with the Dutch and Canadian Prime Ministers, PM Justin Trudeau described NATOs future as bright, saying that NATO has survived because weve always had frank conversations. He added, Institutions like NATO that can tackle complex problems in sophisticated and nuanced ways are really important in the modern world’. 
  • Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of The Netherlands agreed: ‘There are a few issues that Emmanuel Macron addressed that are valid, but I disagree with his overall assessment that NATO is braindead. ‘ He added, Article V is still the cornerstone and through this period of reflection will remain the cornerstone of NATO. How to deal with Russia? Pressure and dialogue!
  • Former NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson recalled the significance of invoking Article V after the 9/11 attacks on New York, noting how the founders of NATO had inserted a 10-year break clause, not expecting it to endure as it had through such evolving circumstances. 
  • In a session on security on NATOs frontlines, Jurik Luik, Estonian Minister of Defence, said If we are consistent in our messages and actions the threat from Russia is low, but if we are weak, divided or wobbly the threat is very real, while Lithuanian Defence Minister Raimundas Karoblis said Since Russia is the only existential threat to Lithuania, we cannot agree with [President Macron’s characterisation of the threat].’ 
  • Georgian Minister of Foreign Affairs David Zalkaliani called for Georgia to be admitted to NATO, saying Georgia is already acting as an ally, meeting NATO requirements and spending targets, sending troops to Afghanistan. When a country like Georgia delivers it should be reciprocated. We continue our efforts towards membership, not discouraged. 
  • In a session on disinformation and societal resilience, Carl Miller, Research Director, Centre for the Analysis of Social Media at Demos, acknowledged that we haven’t even begun to explore what could be effective at countering these [disinformation] campaigns, while Rand Waltzman, Deputy Chief Technology Officer at Rand Corporation, said Nobody is protecting us its time to stop admiring the problem and start doing something. Disinformation requires proactive measures you cant counter disinformation, you have to displace it. But who decides on the narratives? 

Many more followed online, with a reach of over 32 million via over 81.8m impressions so far on NATO Engages consortium Twitter feeds, and over 500 watching live video streams and #NATOEngages trending. 

NATO Engages was organised by the Atlantic Council, GLOBSEC, the Royal United Services Institute, Kings College London, and the Munich Security Conference, in partnership with NATOs Public Diplomacy Division and the UK Government.  

Full details, clips and transcripts can be found at:https://nato-engages.org/ 

PHOTOS (tba)

TRANSCRIPTS  (tba)

VIDEOS (tba)

See also @RUSI_org, @AtlanticCouncil, @MunSecConf, @GLOBSEC,@warstudies on Twitter. 

NOTES TO EDITORS 

NATO ENGAGES is the only outreach event held on the eve of the NATO LeadersMeeting. It is organised by the Atlantic Council, GLOBSEC, Kings College London, the Munich Security Conference and the Royal United Services Institute, in partnership with NATOs Public Diplomacy Division and the UK Government. 

Contact: Jack Haines: [email protected] +44 20 7747 2620