- Bert Koenders, Minister of Foreign Affairs, The Kingdom of the Netherlands
- Karen Donfried, President, The German Marshall Fund of the United States
The transatlantic relationship has long underpinned the global international order, striving for collective security and prosperity. Yet, times are changing, and new challenges have arisen. These challenges still require an international, coordinated response, but the political will to tackle them seems often lacking, and the transatlantic relationship has been characterized by some as ‘worn out.’ But have the United States and Europe really drifted apart, each absorbed by their own crises and challenges? What can be done to create a new transatlantic political will to address these challenges? What role must Europe play in these efforts? These questions and more will be the focus of a Transatlantic Talk with Bert Koenders, minister of foreign affairs for the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which currently holds the Presidency of the Council of Ministers of the European Union. The conversation will be moderated by GMF President Dr. Karen Donfried.
Bert Koenders is minister of foreign affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Before assuming this post in October 2014, he was under-secretary-general of the United Nations and head of the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission (MINUSMA) in Mali. From August 2011 to July 2013, Koenders was the Secretary-General’s special representative and head of the UN operation in Côte d’Ivorie. Prior to that, from February 2007 to February 2010, Koenders was minister for development cooperation. From November 1997 to February 2007 he was a member of the House of Representatives for the Labour Party (PvdA) serving as spokesperson on foreign affairs, trade, corporate social responsibility and international financial institutions. Prior to this, he was employed at the European Commission focusing on European foreign policy and, from 1993 to 1994, by the United Nations in Mozambique, Mexico, and South Africa. Koenders was a member of the parliamentary inquiry committee on Srebrenica and was briefly president of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (2006-2007). He was co-founder of the Parliamentary Network on the World Bank and International Monetary Fund and served as its chair between 2000 and 2007. He was also visiting professor of conflict management at Johns Hopkins University (SAIS) in Bologna from 2000 to 2002.
Karen Donfried is president of The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF). Before assuming this role in April 2014, Donfried was the special assistant to the president and senior director for European affairs on the National Security Council at the White House. In that capacity, she was the president’s principal advisor on Europe and led the interagency process on the development and implementation of the president’s European policies. Prior to the White House, Donfried served as the national intelligence officer for Europe on the National Intelligence Council, the intelligence community’s center for strategic thinking. Donfried first joined GMF in 2001 after having served for ten years as a European specialist at the Congressional Research Service. From 2003 to 2005, she was responsible for the Europe portfolio on the U.S. Department of State's Policy Planning Staff. Her second term of service at GMF was 2005 to 2010, first as senior director of policy programs and then as executive vice president.
GMF’s Transatlantic Talks series pairs high-level government officials from one side of the Atlantic with senior journalists or experts from the other side to discuss the issues most relevant to the transatlantic community. The wide-ranging series centers on foreign and security policy issues and questions immediately facing the transatlantic partnership. The on-the-record discussion format provides a platform for a moderated back-and-forth conversation between government officials, journalists, and the policy/think-tank community.