„NATO: 1949-1999-2019. The 20 years of Poland in the 70 Years of the Alliance” –the presentation in Zagreb

The first of the November presentations of the project “NATO:1949-1999-2019. 20 years of Poland in a 70-year Alliance” took place on November 5, 2012. The project was created within the framework of the project of the same name, which was created with the financial support of the Public and Cultural Diplomacy Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland  within the framework of the Public Diplomacy 2019 competition. This time Zagreb together with our Croatian partner – The Institute for Development and International Relations (IRMO) – hosted our event.

The debate was opened by Bartosz Marcinkowski, Head of the Political and Economic Section at the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Zagreb. Anna Kurowska, Program Manager for the  Balkans at the Institute for Eastern Studies, spoke about the project and the publication. She emphasized the importance of Poland joining the ranks of NATO and presented the outline of the publication, which was one of the main goals of the project.

The debate was moderated by Krsevan Antun Dujmovic from the Institute of Development and International Relations, who presented the participants of the debate.

The first speaker was Monika Begovic, President of the Croatian Atlantic Council. She mentioned that for both Poland, which celebrates its 20th anniversary of joining NATO, and Croatia, 2019 is a special year. Croatia, which became a member of the Alliance 10 years ago, has gained a lot over the past decade. The development and modernisation of the army and new infrastructure investments are among the many benefits that our countries have gained by joining NATO. Begovic also mentioned studies according to which 70% of Poles think that Poland’s presence in NATO has increased our security and significance in the international arena.

Another panellist, Davor Ivo Stier, Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in Sabor and former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Croatia, reminded us of quite difficult geopolitical realities in Europe – Brexit or the unstable situation in Eastern Europe. He pointed out, however, that Montenegro’s entry into NATO or Alliance’s consent to the accession process for Northern Macedonia are good signs, also in the context of the security in the Western Balkans. Further continuation of Euro-Atlantic reforms and integration is essential, especially in the light of recent events concerning the lack of further enlargement of the European Union.

Sandro Knezović from the Institute of Development and International Relations mentioned the NATO missions and troops that were present in the Western Balkans after the end of the conflict in Yugoslavia in the 1990s. He also referred to the issue raised earlier by Davor Ivo Stier – non-acceptance to the opening of accession talks for Albania and South Macedonia creates a space in which other forces, such as Russia and China, may seek their chance to take over influence in the region.

Kalev Stoicescu, an expert from the International Centre for Defence Research and the former Ambassador of Estonia to Washington, referred to the current situation and the condition of NATO from the perspective of the Baltic States. He also pointed out how important 1999 was, when the “NATO window” was opened for countries such as Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary, which also resulted in another enlargement of the structures in 2004, including the Baltic states. Stoicescu also mentioned the constant disinformation that Estonia has been experiencing since the 1990s.

Ray Wojcik, Director of the Warsaw Branch of the Centre for European Policy Analysis (CEPA), expressed his satisfaction with the deepened relations between the European Union and NATO. He also said that it would be easier to ensure the security of each other if other member states joined the group of those that spend 2% of their GDP on defence (which should happen by 2024), such as Poland. Wojcik also quoted a quotation which he believes is adequate for transatlantic relations – “For our freedom and yours”. Cooperation is extremely important, because only this way will we be able to defend ourselves against the growing influence not only of Russia, but also of China.

Gordan Akrap, Founder of the Hybrid Warfare Research Institute in Zagreb, concluded the debate by giving a short presentation “Hybrid Threats in WB6”.

Our publication is available HERE