Riga Conference concludes with NATO enlargement panel November 29, 2006 / Riga
RIGA CONFERENCE WEBSITE:
Riga Conference "Transforming NATO in a New Global Era"
~ Riga Conference closes with debates on NATO enlargement, transatlantic defense industry ~
RIGA, Latvia (November 29, 2006) -The Riga Conference: Transforming NATO in a New Global Era concluded today with Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves telling participants that "enlargement fatigue" as has been widely discussed regarding the European Union, does not apply to NATO.
"I think that in the case of the countries we're looking at today when we talk about enlargement, we can only talk about NATO simply because of the failure of the European Union to deal with its neighborhood," Ilves said. The European Union has "a complete lack of courage, a complete lack of willingness, a ‘fortress Europe' mentality that we don't want any more [countries] in."
Riga Conference participants began their day with a moment of silence, echoing a similar moment at the NATO Summit by the NATO heads of state. Two panels, one on NATO enlargement and one on the transatlantic defense industry, closed the conference.
Both panels appeared before an audience of internationally recognized policymakers, officials, scholars, and business leaders, organized by the Strategic Analysis Commission under the auspices of the President of Latvia, the Latvian Transatlantic Organization, and the German Marshall Fund of the United States.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Volker, appearing on a panel with Ilves, said that enlargement has been, first and foremost, a tremendous success and that discussion of enlargement should not always concentrate on small issues. "NATO enlargement has not only been good for the countries that have joined NATO and for the border region; I think it's also been good for NATO itself," he said.
Earlier, on a panel discussing the transatlantic defense industry, U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions said there should be more defense integration across the ocean. "It binds us closer together, that's one of the advantages of it," he said. "We create an interoperability so our systems can work together in the field in a combat area."
Thomas Enders, CEO of the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS), said that transatlantic defense cooperation already works and that defense integration is considerably more difficult. "The lesson I take away from recent years is that the more multinational, I guess the more difficult it is to realize," Enders said. "Cooperation works best when it is bilateral between two countries, between two companies."
The Riga Conference: Transforming NATO in a New Global Era, occurring November 27-29, during the NATO Riga Summit, convenes decision-makers who shape, enact, and exercise the policies at the core of NATO's agenda. The Riga Conference focuses on NATO's continuing transformation - on its outreach and new relationships around the world, the question of expanding NATO's role in global crises, energy security, Afghanistan, and the Balkans, its future with Russia, and its own future for enlargement.
~ Vike-Freiberga: NATO should be "efficient, effective, engaging" ~
RIGA, Latvia (November 28, 2006) - In keynote addresses today to The Riga Conference: Transforming NATO in a New Global Era, two critical figures for the coinciding NATO Summit, Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga and NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, laid out their agendas for the Summit and for the alliance.
Vike-Freiberga said there were three key "E" words that defined the alliance's future - an efficient alliance capable of common decisions and similar goals, an effective alliance equipped with necessary military equipment, and an engaging alliance that is focused on security and on propagating security through cooperation and likeminded partners.
De Hoop Scheffer said the alliance nations must agree that "globalized threats need globalized responses... We need to operate without self imposed geographical restrictions." He later added that "Afghanistan will not be our last mission outside of Europe."
~ Senator invokes Article V in opening speech of Riga Conference ~
RIGA, Latvia (November 27, 2006) - U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar opened The Riga Conference: Transforming NATO in a New Global Era this evening by invoking NATO Article V - an attack on one member is an attack on all members - for energy security, even staking the alliance's future on the issue.
"The Alliance must commit itself to preparing for and responding to attempts to use the energy weapon against its fellow members," Lugar said. "NATO must become a reliable refuge for members against threats stemming from their energy insecurity. If this does not happen, the Alliance is likely to become badly divided as vulnerable members seek to placate their energy suppliers."
~ U.S. President Bush, Latvian President Vike-Freiberga, NATO Secretary-General among those addressing conference of high-level leaders ~
RIGA, Latvia (November 26, 2006) - The organizers of The Riga Conference: Transforming NATO in a New Global Era, announce today that U.S. President George W. Bush will deliver a Nov. 28 keynote address to participants of The Riga Conference and of the Young Leaders Forum.
He joins Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga and NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, among others, in addressing the audience of internationally recognized policymakers, officials, scholars, and business leaders, announced the conference organizers - the Strategic Analysis Commission under the auspices of the President of Latvia, the Latvian Transatlantic Organization, and the German Marshall Fund of the United States.
In preparation for this conference, GMF has commissioned five papers from leading thinkers on both sides of the Atlantic on the future challenges facing NATO. These original policy papers frame the critical issues both on and off the Summit agenda.
In addition, GMF launches the book Next Steps in Forging a Euroatlantic Strategy for the Wider Black Sea, edited by Ronald Asmus with a forward by Javier Solana. The book attempts to outline what and presents concrete ideas of what a content of a more ambitious and forward leaning strategy for the Black Sea could and should look like strategy could and should be. The book consists of contributions from a number of expert authors from the United States, European Union and the region.
President Bush meets with organizers of Riga Conference
On October 27, 2006, U.S. President George W. Bush invited the Support Committee for the Riga NATO Summit to the White House. President Bush, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, and U.S. National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley met with the Committee to express their thanks for the Committee's support and their expectations for the Riga Summit. The Riga NATO Summit Support Committee invited GMF's President Craig Kennedy to join the meeting given GMF's role in helping to organize a non-governmental conference on NATO during the week of the summit in Latvia. GMF's partners in this effort are the Latvian Transatlantic Organisation and the Commission of Strategic Analysis. The focus of the conference will be NATO's transformation in a new global era.