Transatlantic Conference. Redefining Inclusive Transatlantic Security in the Covid Era.

Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs of the Harvard Kennedy School and the IE School of Global and Public Affairs and Fundación Rafael del Pino

The Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs of the Harvard Kennedy School and the IE School of Global and Public Affairs have joined the Rafael del Pino Foundation to foster dialogue on transatlantic relations. In this regard, on 2 July 2020, an online platform was set up to promote dialogue on transatlantic relations. www.frdelpino.esThe meeting entitled "Redefining Inclusive Transatlantic Security in the Covid Era" took place according to the following programme:

Welcome and introductory remarks
Maria del PinoPresident, Rafael del Pino Foundation
Susana MalcorraDean of IE School of Global and Public Affairs
Nicholas BurnsRoy and Barbara Goodman Family Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Relations, Harvard Kennedy School

Inaugural conference
Arancha GonzálezMinister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation of the Government of Spain

Further Dialogue with Susana Malcorra, Dean of IE School of Global and Public Affairs

Madeleine AlbrightFormer U.S. Secretary of State, Former U.S. Secretary of State
Mircea GeoanaNATO Deputy Secretary General

Conclusions and closure
Nicholas BurnsRoy and Barbara Goodman Family Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Relations, Harvard Kennedy School


On 2 July 2020, the Rafael del Pino Foundation, together with the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School and the IE School of Global and Public Affairs, organised the Transatlantic Conference, which this year was dedicated to the theme "Redefining Inclusive Transatlantic Security in the Age of Covid". It featured Madeleine Albright, former US Secretary of State, and Mircea Geoana, NATO Deputy Secretary General.

Madeleine Albright expressed concern about the lack of trust between transatlantic partners. She said she supports Vice President Biden. He has a great deal of experience in international affairs. He is very dedicated to restoring trust between the United States and Europe. But we have to take concrete action, based on honest discussions about what the relationship looks like and where it needs to go.

After World War II, Europeans were sick and wanted to take whatever medicine the United States gave them. At that time, Europeans were teenagers, but they have grown up and now the relationship has to be between adults, which is what we have not done. Now we need to discuss where they are apart, what can be done to renew that trust. That means talking about what our domestic issues are and how they affect foreign policy. For example, why we see things related to China so differently. Or why there are differences in the way we see Russia.

We must be frank and talk about what the elements of mistrust are, talk about what trade issues mean, the importance of human rights, the importance of democracy, the rise of nationalism and how it affects the concept of what the European Union is going to be. Trust will only be restored if we talk frankly about these issues and feel comfortable talking about problems such as the northern gas pipeline (between Germany and Russia), what is happening in the Arctic, arms issues, Europe's relationship with NATO, the question of Turkey, or how we act outside our area, for example in Palestine.

Mircea Geoana commented that if we are not able to bring about the transformation that Covid has accelerated, with a common understanding of who we are and the foundations of our society, it will be very difficult for us to convince the rest of the world to follow our path.

All of us, individual nations, organisations and citizens are in the process of learning the lessons of this pandemic. The democratic countries of Europe, together with their democratic friends in North America, Asia, Africa and Latin America should have the strength to learn these lessons from the pandemic and the transformation of the world order and find new energies to unite and find common solutions. My concern is that we will come to divergent conclusions about this pandemic. If that interpretation divides us further, then we could have a problem. NATO member countries now account for 50% of global GDP, they lead the enormous technological progress underway, they have twenty-eight of the thirty universities that are world leaders in research. This is the brilliance of the democratic idea. That is why the Washington Treaty is based on our values. The idea that the United States or Europe can compete alone in this complicated process of transforming the world is totally unrealistic. Together we will remain strong.

The transatlantic alliance is one of the pillars of global governance. There is no way we can do things selectively because NATO and the European Union are two sides of the same coin.

We must build that alliance for the coming decades on the shared values of liberal democracy, the rule of law, respect for citizens and combating other models of organising society based on totalitarianism and authoritarianism. That is the fundamental objective for us.

On Turkey and Poland, he said that NATO is an organisation of equals and is not in the business of scoring one against the other. Sometimes there are more political issues, sometimes more strategic. But the difference between the EU and NATO is that the EU has instruments in its treaties that it can activate to correct those situations. If there is one thing that holds NATO together and strengthens all its members, from Turkey and Poland to North America, it is staying together. The Washington Treaty sets out clear values, to which we must be faithful. But NATO's job is not to correct its allies.

Madeleine Albright added that we have to remember that NATO is an alliance of democracies. Democracy is one of the issues it has to think about, because it is not just a military alliance, it is an alliance of democracies. We must seize the opportunity that, after 70 years of existence, there are things in NATO that need to be corrected. It should also be borne in mind that NATO has more partners than members. There are many outside countries that would be very interested in helping.

Mircea Geoana responded that NATO is engaged in a process to see what the future of the alliance should be. In this regard, there are three essential things. The first is how to remain strong in military terms, because we must remain strong and able to defend and deter. The second is how to be strong in political terms. The third is how to be more global, not in terms of geography, but in terms of the issues that affect the rules of the world order.

As for Russia, NATO recently held a ministerial meeting at which it was discussed. Going beyond the illegal occupation of Crimea and eastern Ukraine and the use of military expansion to project power in the Mediterranean, Russia is building up an arsenal of high-end military weaponry. This is not something NATO is supposed to be doing. NATO is a defensive alliance and is examining this issue. For the first time in a generation or more, NATO has decided to embark on a comprehensive 360-degree analysis of defence and deterrence, which must lead to real conclusions. We must respond to the Soviet threat, but not asymmetrically. It is not a threat to NATO's eastern flank; it is a threat to all of us as a whole, including our non-NATO allies. Russia prefers to use this kind of aggressive strategy, rather than what we have decided together in the Russia-NATO agreement. We have offered Russia to return to the NATO-Russia Council. They, however, believe that this will help them to disunite the alliance, but they will not succeed because things are very obvious about Russia's behaviour. It is aggressive not only towards its neighbours, but towards common security. It is good that our allies have concrete agreements with Russia, such as the US-Russia nuclear cooperation agreement. China should also be encouraged to join arms control talks, because it is also developing high-end missiles and hypersonic instruments. The Russians might be thinking that they can procrastinate in their engagement, waiting to see some kind of disunity between us, the answer is that this is not going to happen.

Regarding Trump's position on Russia, Madeleine Albright said she does not understand what he is doing. He seems to be doing everything he can to support Putin. He always thinks he's right, as opposed to what our intelligence services say. He admires authoritarian leaders who are willing to break the law and become president for life. In this way, Trump is being very useful to the Russians because, in this way, he is undermining the alliance. He is trying to pull our allies apart with the kind of actions he is supporting. He is concerned about what he has read recently about Afghanistan. In some ways, Putin has been involved in hiring people who have been involved in killing American troops. In many ways, the operations in Afghanistan are NATO operations. There are NATO troops there. What has happened needs to be discussed within NATO. There are questions of what the alliance's reaction should be to what happened. I think we are going to have a difficult period with the Russians, as always. What Putin is doing is undermining our democracies with his support for Orban, or what other authoritarian governments are doing. Albright always worked to build a good relationship between Russia and NATO, but the Russians never understood that and continue to use these communist ideas to try to achieve some kind of division.
Mircea Geoana stated that it is clear what Russia is doing, including disinformation about Covid and the pandemic, in order to disunite us. However, the facts show that, for many years, we have never seen a stronger US military engagement in Europe than they show now. Of course, it is due to the aggressiveness of the Russians, but this year, before the pandemic, the United States had planned the largest military exercises on European soil in a generation, but had to scale them down because of the pandemic. The fact that the US is present in Poland, in Romania, in Spain, in Norway, in many places with defensive operations, shows a very strong commitment to European security. Then there is the political aspect of defence burden-sharing. For some time now, all the US presidents have been saying that Europe does not contribute seriously to this common effort, but this situation is somehow reversing and hopefully the current economic situation will not change that trend. Europeans are now spending more than 100 billion additional dollars on defence. In practical terms, there is this culture of working together that is in the DNA of the alliance.
Madeleine Albright commented that a crisis is always an opportunity. In this case there has been a combination of circumstances, with the pandemic, the economy, the rise of nationalism that force us to look at structures and think about how we can adapt them to this. People are concerned about national issues and globalisation is not a concern, nor is it seen as a bad thing. But we are interconnected and we have to look at how to take advantage of those interconnections, understanding what the rules are and how they work. We have to see what are the things that need to happen. For example, we have the issues related to information, to cyberspace. At a NATO meeting it was raised what to do in case of a cyber attack. People said they didn't know what to do if you don't know the genesis.
We have to think about how our organisations fit together, how to rely on them. Many Americans have spent a lot of time trying to understand how the EU and NATO operate in terms of the relationship between them, how they relate to the United Nations, the role of regional organisations.
Another thing to pay attention to is what is the role of the private sector, because governments do not produce the scientific innovations that are needed. The private sector can be very helpful in that respect. That private sector involvement has to happen earlier, not at the last minute. We have to see how the institutions work and see what happens with those that emerge ac hoc, such as the G8. People, personal relationships are also important. They make a difference because they can have very tough discussions. People share information and have ideas on how to reform the structure. We need to integrate young people into this and worry about education and how they see interconnectivity. The only way you can understand the issues is through mutual understanding. The truth of diplomacy is to put yourself in the other person's shoes.

China is a very worrying issue, firstly because of technological issues. We are talking about Huawei, about 5G, about what it means for Taiwan. It is a very important issue in many ways. China is occupying the space that is being left empty by the United States, which has been a bit absent. We are talking, for example, about the belt and road initiative. When Obama decided to rebalance with Asia, the Europeans thought they had been abandoned, but the Europeans are no longer the problem, they are part of the solution. We need the partnership with Europe to be able to deal with China. We need to look at areas where we can collaborate, for example artificial intelligence, because what China is doing in the China Sea is very dangerous. We also need to speak loudly about human rights. The relationship with Europe is extremely important, whether in trade, in values, or in the way we deal with new issues that are emerging.
Mircea Geoana explained that NATO decided to engage explicitly on the issue of China's rise. We see it as a challenge and as an opportunity. NATO has a lot of expertise on issues such as resilience, including telecommunications and 5G. We also saw a complementary effort made by the European Union because we are aware that resilience has now become a magic word and one of the lessons of this pandemic. We have become very conscious, both in the United States and in Europe and in NATO, that we are too dependent on supply chains, that we have been too relaxed about our critical infrastructure, about our science, our technology and our intellectual property, and we have allowed countries like China or others to start buying those things that are critical to our competitiveness, even to our defence. That is something we have to change. That is why we need a more synchronised understanding between the United States and Europe on China. The European Union has even been a little more explicit in defining China as a systemic rival, which is a very strong proposition. At the last EU-China meeting there has already been serious talk of levelling the playing field. I hope that a balance can be found between China's rise when it harms our interests while maintaining some common goods for our planet and trying to find areas where we can find compromises.

We have to be realistic about the pressures that political leaders are going to face. The complications of the pandemic are not making security problems go away. On the contrary, they are magnifying them. The 2% defence investment target will be met. We are encouraged by that, but we are also trying to make people realise that security has a cost and that the world is more complex after the pandemic. Security is the first requirement for development, peace and economic recovery.

Madeleine Albright insisted that trust has to happen because there are so many issues to be discussed. We are in a new era, with new problems. I hope that the US will be humble in this regard, and not say we know how to do everything, etc. The importance of having confidence is essential. We have new problems in addition to the ones we already have.

For Mircea Geoana, we are in the process of learning the lessons of the pandemic. Reflecting on those lessons must bring us closer together. There is no way out of this crisis if the two sides of the Atlantic do not reconnect with openness and renewed purpose to our common relations and values. Transatlantic is not just about the EU. It is an indispensable ingredient for success in this complicated world.

The Rafael del Pino Foundation is not responsible for the comments, opinions or statements made by the people who participate in its activities and which are expressed as a result of their inalienable right to freedom of expression and under their sole responsibility. The contents included in the summary of this conference, written for the Rafael del Pino Foundation by Professor Emilio González, are the result of the debates held at the meeting held for this purpose at the Foundation and are the responsibility of the authors.

The Rafael del Pino Foundation is not responsible for any comments, opinions or statements made by third parties. In this respect, the FRP is not obliged to monitor the views expressed by such third parties who participate in its activities and which are expressed as a result of their inalienable right to freedom of expression and under their own responsibility. The contents included in the summary of this conference, written for the Rafael del Pino Foundation by Professor Emilio J. González, are the result of the discussions that took place during the conference organised for this purpose at the Foundation and are the sole responsibility of its authors.