The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF), in partnership with the U.S. Mission to NATO, hosted a panel discussion in Paris titled “France and NATO en route to the Warsaw Summit 2016 – A Look at the Challenges in the South.” The discussion was moderated by Dr. Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer, senior transatlantic fellow and director of GMF's Paris Office. Richard Holtzapple, minister counselor for Political Affairs at the U.S. Embassy to France opened the event with welcoming remarks.
The first speaker, Lee Litzenberger, deputy chief at the U.S. Mission to NATO, underlined that we are experiencing a rapidly changing European security landscape that stretches to the Mediterranean region. He expressed the importance of political dialogue and of building capacity programs with NATO members and partnership countries to face the challenges in the region. Litzenberger also stressed the Alliance’s commitment to Article 5, and noted that the new Readiness Action Plan can also play a role in the South.
Dr. Justin Vaisse, director of Policy Planning at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs continued by saying that France supports NATO’s efforts to deal with the challenges in the Mediterranean. The last meeting of the Small-Group Coalition against ISIL in Paris was mentioned as a concrete example of what France is trying to do on the diplomatic front. Dr. Vaisse also praised the constructive relationship between Paris and Washington in dealing with the deterioration of the stability in the Sahel and in the Levant.
Dr. Bruno Tertrais, senior research fellow at the Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique, concluded that there are many reasons why NATO should care as much about the challenges in the South as well as the ones in the East. Among these reasons, are the important regional interests of Turkey, which is a NATO member state. Dr. Tetrais also spoke about the problems relating to terrorism and piracy in the countries surrounding the Mediterranean.
After the speakers’ remarks a lively conversation with the audience followed.