Public event

The alliance we (hardly) know? NATO's role in German foreign and security policy

NATO Headquarters (©NATO)

Germany’s role in international security has gained increased attention in the public debate since the annexation of Crimea and the emergence of the self-proclaimed “Islamic State” in 2014. After being labelled North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO) "lost nation" or even a "strategic blackhole" by critics some years ago, Berlin has assumed a crucial role in NATO's new strategic posture, including as lead nation of one of NATO's multinational battalions on the Eastern flank.

Yet, when asked in a Europe-wide survey about their knowledge about NATO in March 2017, more than 70 percent of Germans answered to feel rather unfamiliar with the alliance and its work. It seems as if a stronger German engagement in NATO also requires a more proactive debate about the role and purpose of the alliance, especially - but certainly not only - among a younger generation. What does #WeAreNATO really mean?

The event will be followed by a light reception.

Town hall discussion

Magdalena Kirchner is an Istanbul-based political scientist and conflict researcher, specialising in transatlantic security and crisis management, Turkey, and the Levant. She currently is a Mercator-IPC-Fellow at the Istanbul Policy Center and a Research Fellow at RAND Europe. Prior to that, she was a Transatlantic Fellow at the RAND Corporation in Arlington, VA and the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) in Berlin. In her position as Chairwoman of the German chapter of the Youth Atlantic Treaty Association (YATA) since 2014, she represents more than 700 students and young professionals in the field of international security.

Ambassador Hans-Dieter Lucas is Germany’s Permanent Representative on the North Atlantic Council. Before assuming this position at NATO headquarters in July 2015, he served for four years as Political Director of the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin. In this capacity he was Germany’s chief negotiator in the E3+3 talks with Iran. From 2010 to 2011, he was Germany’s Representative on the Political and Security Committee of the European Union in Brussels. Ambassador Lucas entered the German foreign service in 1985. He has been posted abroad at the German embassy in Moscow and has headed the Press and Public Affairs Section at the German embassy in Washington, D.C.

Gerlinde Niehus leads the Engagements Section within NATO’s Public Diplomacy Division. As such, she oversees NATO’s public diplomacy engagements with audiences in all NATO nations and NATO partner countries across the globe. She started her professional life as a TV and radio editor for public broadcasters in Germany. She then moved to a German think tank focusing on international relations and a growing range of education and training programmes with partners in Central and Eastern Europe. This work brought her to the European Commission where she inter alia developed a communications strategy for the Commission’s DG Information Society.

Tomáš Valášek is the Director of Carnegie Europe where his research focuses on security and defense, transatlantic relations, and Europe’s Eastern neighbourhood. Previously, Valášek served as the Permanent Representative of the Slovak Republic to NATO for nearly four years. Before that, he was President of the Central European Policy Institute in Bratislava, Director of Foreign Policy and Defense at the Centre for European Reform in London, and founder and Director of the Brussels office of the World Security Institute. He also served as Acting Political Director and Head of the Security and Defense Policy Division at the Slovak Ministry of Defense.

Introduction and moderation

Tobias Bunde is a postdoctoral researcher with the Hertie School’s Centre for International Security (CISP) and also serves as Head of Policy and Analysis of the Munich Security Conference. His research focusses on German foreign and security policy, NATO, and European security and defense. He is a member of the Young Security Experts of the Federal Academy for Security Policy and a non-resident fellow with the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies (AICGS). In 2014, he was one of fifteen NATO Emerging Leaders who were tasked with providing recommendations to then-Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in the run-up to the NATO Wales Summit.

The event is co-hosted by YATA Germany and the Hertie School's Centre for International Security Policy (CISP). It is part of the conference series "NATO Talk around the Brandenburger Tor" and co-sponsored by NATO.