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

“NATO at 70: Old Dilemmas, New Security Challenges.” – this was the theme of a conference organised by the Institute for International Affairs and Foreign Policy (INCIPE) and the Spanish Ministry of Defence. During this event, the publication “NATO: 1949-1999-2019. The 20 years of Poland in the 70 Years of the Alliance” was presented. The paper was prepared 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.

The part devoted to our project was presented by Anna Kurowska, Program Manager for the Balkans at the Institute for Eastern Studies. She outlined the general principles of the project and the publication itself. She emphasized that 2019 is an exceptional year – we are celebrating two important anniversaries: 70 years of NATO’s establishment and 20 years of Poland’s membership in the Alliance.

The debate on Poland and Europe as the backbone of NATO was opened by its moderator, Col. José Luis Calvo, Director of the Department of the Coordination Division and Security and Defence Studies at the Spanish Ministry of Defence, who welcomed the panel’s guests: Bogusław Winid, Permanent-Representative of Poland to NATO (2007-2011) and the United Nations (2014-2017), advisor to the President of Poland for Foreign Policy and National Security, Sofia-Maria Satanakis, Research Fellow from the Austrian Institute of European and Security Policy (AIES) and Felix Arteaga, Senior Analyst on Security and Defence from Elcano Royal Institute.

Bogusław Winid pointed out at the beginning of his speech that NATO is now a completely different organization than it was at the beginning of its existence. The changing geopolitical situation has also influenced the shape and activities of the Alliance over the years. He also indicated that from the very beginning of its presence in NATO structures, Poland has tried to make a significant contribution to its activities, e.g. by taking part in the Yugoslavia mission in the 1990s. Thanks to this, we are now an important element of the Alliance, as one of the few countries to have also reached the required level of 2% of GDP allocated to defence. If we can learn lessons from past conflicts, it is certainly the fact that NATO and the EU must prepare for all possible scenarios and not reject even the most unlikely ones.

Sofia-Maria Satanakis also spoke about possible events. As a representative of Austria, a neutral state, she mentioned the possible scenarios that her Institute had developed during another project. These scenarios can help the European Union to prepare for potential crises or moments that could significantly change the balance of power in Europe.

The last speaker in the debate was Felix Arteaga. He wondered whether he could agree with the subject of the debate that Europe is, in fact, the backbone of NATO. He said that the ‘basis’ is something solid, while Europe is currently divided and weakened. He also addressed the new challenges that the Alliance is currently facing. The political epicentre has now moved towards Eurasia and it is up to NATO to find itself in this new situation.

The participants of the debate also answered a number of questions from the public, which concerned, among others, the creation of a common European army or ways to convince the public opinion to join NATO.

Our publication is available HERE