Turkish policy-makers and international experts discuss NATO’s Lisbon Summit in Antalya

On 3-4 December, around 250 experts gathered in Antalya, Turkey, at a major international security conference entitled “The New Strategic Concept and NATO towards Year 2020”. Participants included high level officials, international security experts, opinion formers and diplomats from Turkey and other NATO member and partner countries, as well as representatives from the media and Atlantic Treaty Associations.

Ömer E.Akbel, President of the Atlantic Council of Turkey, opened the conference. “Today we are meeting in Antalya in the wake of a historic meeting of NATO. The leaders in Lisbon adopted a New Strategic Concept which will serve as the Alliance's roadmap for the next decade", he said.

In his keynote speech, Vecdi Gönül, Turkish Minister of National Defence, welcomed decisions reached at the Lisbon Summit, highlighting NATO’s unique role in international peace and security and Turkey’s contributions and commitment to this endeavor. He also stressed, however, how much still needs to be done to implement the Lisbon decisions. “Turkey continues to pledge particular importance to improve NATO-EU relations”, he said. “We have made this point at the Lisbon Summit, and will continue to make it. We need a fair and balanced partnership that also takes into account Turkey’s contributions as a NATO Ally”.

Dr Stefanie Babst, NATO’s Acting Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy, welcomed the opportunity to discuss the Summit achievements in Turkey. “ I would like to applaud the Turkish Atlantic Council for its excellent work in organising this gathering. The Turkish Atlantic Council has always played a critical role in bringing together senior Turkish political and military leaders and strategic experts from across NATO Member and partner countries. This is just another impressive example.”

She pointed out that the Lisbon Summit met a central expectation, namely to make NATO fully fit to face the challenges of the 21st century. “It is easy to forget that when the Secretary General embarked on the project of drafting a new Strategic Concept, everybody expected an almighty debate about fundamental issues about NATO’s core purpose. Instead Lisbon reinforced the political cohesion among the Allies and brought NATO back on the political radar screen of governments. Summit participants left Lisbon with the notion of having endorsed a vision for a modern, agile and progressive transatlantic alliance. “

Also among the speakers were the Danish, Polish, Romanian and Turkish Permanent Representatives to NATO, prominent Turkish experts and Juri Gorlach, Deputy General Director at the Russian Foreign Ministry. He expressed ‘moderate optimism’ as regards the chances to open a fresh chapter on NATO-Russia relations, underlining how important it was for Russia to discuss the development of a missile defence shield jointly from the beginning. Giuseppe Belardetti, President of the Youth Atlantic Treaty Association, delivered the youth perspective on the future of NATO and transatlantic security at the last panel dedicated to "NATO towards 2010: Opportunities and Challenges". Members of the Turkish Parliament also addressed this panel.

The International Antalya Conference on Security and Cooperation is the most prominent international security conference which the Atlantic Council of Turkey has organised for the last 18 years with support from theTurkish Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The event was co-sponsored by NATO as part of its public diplomacy efforts to inform and engage allied public opinion on the historic decisions taken at the Lisbon Summit.