Marshall Center Professor Valbona Zeneli Speaks at NATO’s Seminar on Strengthening Partnerships
By College of International Security Studies
George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies
GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (Feb. 25, 2022) – Dr. Valbona Zeneli, the Chair of the Strategic Initiatives Department at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, participated as a speaker at NATO’s future Strategic Concept Seminar in The Hague on February 23, 2022. The seminar’s theme “Stronger Together – NATO’s Partnerships” was opened by NATO Secretary General, Mr. Jens Stoltenberg, and the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mr. Mark Rutte. They discussed the role of NATO partnerships in the light of evolving security challenges, with a specific focus on Russian aggression towards Ukraine. Prime Minister Rutte emphasized that NATO is, and will remain, the cornerstone of security for Europe and that it is crucial for NATO to modernize in response to the rapidly changing geo-political situation. NATO’s Secretary General Stoltenberg reiterated in his virtual address that, “faced with the most dangerous crisis for the European security in a generation, NATO’s partnerships are fundamental to defend our values and security”.
The event, hosted by Germany and the Netherlands, was part of a series of four seminars that are contributing to the new Strategic Concept to be adopted at NATO's June meeting in Madrid. The seminar on NATO’s partnerships was also co-sponsored by Canada, Italy, Portugal, and Spain, together with Finland and Sweden.
Following the opening remarks, the seminar continued with a session of in-depth discussions among experts, including former NATO Secretary General Mr. Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Ms. Lauren Speranza, the Director of the Transatlantic Defense and Security Center for European Policy Analysis, the Director and Senior Fellow of the Macdonald Laurier Institute Mr. Jonathan Berkshire Miller, and Dr. Valbona Zeneli, the Chair of the Strategic Initiatives Department at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies.
Discussions noted that since its foundation in 1949, NATO has been essential to European and transatlantic security and is faced with numerous and more complex global challenges. Such challenges include: revisionist authoritarian states determined to disrupt the current rules-based international order, terrorist threats, digital disruptive technologies, emerging technologies and digital transformations, climate change and natural disasters, and more. NATO and the transatlantic community must re-examine their network of partnerships. These partnerships, developed over the last three decades, include countries around the world and international organizations. In-depth discussions addressed how partnerships with other countries and organizations strengthen NATO's clout and how should NATO smartly invest to make them more effective.
Dr. Zeneli’s remarks focused on the need to invest in and strengthen democratic resilience. She pointed out that the current nature of strategic competition is shaping the current global world order into bipolar spheres of influence and promotes autocracy over democracy as an attractive and efficient form of governance. Dr. Zeneli emphasized that to defend our democratic values, our security, and our prosperity, NATO and the transatlantic community, should focus on developing a comprehensive approach to resilience in all aspects of engagement with its partners. The Western community must also pursue unity of purpose and effort to maintain its influence within the international rules-based order. In this regard, integrating partners into the community of free-market democracies and diligently working to promote all elements of national power will empower partners to become net contributors to global prosperity and security.