NATO: 1949-1999-2019. The 20 Years of Poland in the 70 Years of the Alliance – a debate in Paris

On 28 November 2019, the Paris-based Institute for Strategic Research IRSEM hosted a debate organised within the framework of the project “The 20 Years of Poland in the 70 Years of the Alliance”. The debate was chaired by Eveline Mathey, researcher specialising in the study of multilateral security organisations at IRSEM.

The debate brought together four distinguished experts:

  • Amb. Marek Ziolkowski, former Polish permanent representative to NATO
  • Prof. Hall Gardner, professor at the American University of Paris
  • Greta Monika Tuckute advisor to Lithuania’s minister of defence
  • Pierre Haroche, researcher at the Institute for Strategic Research IRSEM



Marek Ziolkowski claimed that there is no doubt that Russia remains the biggest challenge for NATO. Kremlin’s aggressive actions are a major source of security threats for the transatlantic community. The record of the last months is worrying: demise of the INF Treaty; deployment of offensive military capabilities in the Kaliningrad region; continued aggression against Ukraine. Bilateral contacts with Russia must not contradict the Alliance’s policy and united messages. NATO is indispensable to the Euro-Atlantic security, and transatlantic bond is key to NATO’s credibility and strength. The most advanced form of NATO’s projecting stability efforts should be to keep NATO’s door open to all the states willing and able to join our alliance.

Hall Gardner argued that NATO is at a dangerous turning point that could result in two future scenarios. The first scenario results in continued confrontation with both Russia and China. The second scenario is the implementation of what he called a new “Harmel” strategy that seeks to implement a United States-NATO-European Union rapprochement with Moscow on the basis of parity and with clear incentives for mutual cooperation, but without further isolating or alienating China, in an effort to better channel the rise of China as a global power. One option to bring Moscow closer to the U.S., NATO and European Union is the formal establishment of a non-nuclear, neutral, decentralized Ukraine that is not part of NATO, the Russian-led CSTO, or even the Chinese-led SCO. If the new “Harmel” strategy is to prevail, the US and the NATO should forge a consensus to fully support French and German efforts to resolve the conflict between Ukraine and Russia over the eastern Ukraine in the Minsk/Normandy process as a first step toward implementing a deeper rapprochement with Moscow that leads to a U.S.-NATO-EU-Russia entente.

Pierre Haroche discussed the East-South dilemma, pointing to the fact that the East and the South are in fact interlinked by similar threats, even if those threats encompass different scales and forms or affect Europe in diver-gent ways. Russia, the key source of threats and security challenges in the East, has also been expanding its military presence to the South of Europe. NATO introduced the ‘360-degree’ principle, intended to ensure that the Alliance, as part of its process of adapting to a rapidly changing security environment, will develop the capacity to address threats coming from every geographic direction and almost any domain