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INTERVIEW Ambassador Tacan Ildem, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy: Fake news challenges our resilience. Through communication, NATO is more agile

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NATO’s centre of gravity and its essential strength is the commitment of its members to stand up for each other. Article 5 in this respect is the core of the North Atlantic Treaty, says Ambassador Tacan Ildem, Assistant of NATO’s Secretary General for Public Diplomacy.

In an interview for CaleaEuropeană.ro, on the sidelines of Bucharest Forum, Ambassador Ildem praised Romania’s efforts to contribute to NATO’s communication and branding campaign, underlining that our country holds a key role on explaining the Alliance’s policy towards the Black Sea and the Western Balkans, while enjoyind a “recognized excellence” in new technologies, both an opportunity and challenge to the nature of warfare.

Ambassador Ildem also referred to NATO’s efforts in countering fake news, drawing attention to the idea that “fake news challenge enduring public support for NATO policies.

“It challenges our resilience as societies. This is why NATO aim to counter this phenomenon calmly but firmly”, said NATO’s high-ranking official.

CaleaEuropeană.ro: Seventy years of NATO and especially thirty years since the fall of the Berlin Wall seem like far moments in history for an ordinary citizen. How do you explain to the general public the need of having the collective defense umbrella provided by NATO?

Ambassador Ildem: Thirty years ago, the Cold War ended, and with it the separation of Europe. In the last three decades, challenges have been different and yet the commitment of Allies to stand as one has endured. Better yet, new Allies have joined, including Romania, and this is illustrative of the benefits provided by membership in NATO. I believe the ordinary citizen understand well that our societies are confronted to many security challenges, both traditional ones, like Russia’s new assertive foreign policy, and less traditional ones, like cyber threats or terrorism. NATO does not replace national efforts towards defense, but it brings them together so that together, the Alliance is greater and stronger than the sum of its parts.

CaleaEuropeană.ro: After the end of Cold War NATO enlarged as a promise for newly born democracies in Central and Eastern Europe. Since 2014, the Alliance faces multiple threats including at its Eastern borders, but some are non-military and use disruptive technologies. What can NATO do more to help new allies, including Romania, to build more resilient societies in dealing with disinformation activities?

Ambassador Ildem: Disinformation is a concern for everyone, because unlike misinformation, which is unintended, disinformation is an attempt to sow error and wrong appreciations of reality intentionally. Resilience is a frame of mind, irrespective of when one joined NATO! It requires that every member of society do its part. At NATO, we consider that resilience includes pro-active communication, to inform the public and the media; reactive communication to correct what we consider partial, incomplete or tendentious reports in the information environment; and frequent face to face meetings with opinion leaders, because direct meetings develop trust, a key component of resilience. But citizens also have a role to play in countering disinformation activities, by diversifying their sources of information and by being mindful of possible political biases. NATO’s public diplomacy is contributing to this effort. 

CaleaEuropeană.ro: NATO’s ongoing process to adapt to a challenging security environment, especially on the hybrid and disinformation challenges, has found a name two years ago: “#WeAreNATO”. What is the story behind this branded communications campaign and why has it surfaced? 

Ambassador Ildem: NATO has always sought to adapt. Even before the 2014 illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia, public diplomacy was evolving rapidly taking into account the rise of social media and its impact on audiences but also on the tools communicators use. NATO considered these new developments and decided to adapt and adopt new modalities. The method evolves, but the ultimate objective remains unchanged: to reach out to diverse public in our nations. With campaigns, we are more agile, better able to measure the impact of our work, and therefore hopefully more successful as well.

CaleaEuropeană.ro: Romania is one of the pioneers of the #WeAreNATO campaign while the public support for our NATO membership raises more than 50% of the population, and these are positive facts. Even so, how can Romania, as an Eastern border of Western world, actively engage to better promote and explain NATO’s profile and measures for deterrence and defense? 

Ambassador Ildem: I am very happy that Romania has contributed so much to our campaign effort to explain NATO policies to home audiences. As your readers may not know, we have three priority publics, of which the first is the successor generation, the future leaders of Romania. We are also reaching out to women specifically. Finally, we seek to ensure that people without higher education have an understanding of Romania’s Alliance contributions. Looking forward, Romania has a role in explaining NATO’s approach to the Black Sea and Western Balkans, but also in explaining the determination of Allies to innovate in the face of disruptive new technologies – technologies that present opportunities, but that will also change the nature of warfare. I think here specifically of big data, artificial intelligence and other disruptive technologies, areas in which Romania enjoys recognized excellence.

CaleaEuropeană.ro: NATO has always been referred to as a collective defense organization guided by the principle engraved under Article 5. To what extent fake news phenomenon is a threat for NATO’s security and ability to defend its members? In this, what would be the role of public diplomacy within the Alliance in countering hybrid warfare?

Ambassador Ildem: Fake news is a complex phenomenon involving both would-be state competitors as well as non-state organizations. Its destructive intent is compounded by the new potential of social media platforms. NATO takes this reality very seriously. We chose to oppose fake news with facts, and do so through proactive press relations, social media engagements, as well as through a dynamic program of public diplomacy activities aimed at different audiences. While it does not directly affect NATO’s ability to defend itself militarily, fake news do contribute to muddying the waters and to confusing publics. Therefore fake news challenge enduring public support for NATO policies. It challenges our resilience as societies. This is why NATO aim to counter this phenomenon calmly but firmly.

CaleaEuropeană.ro: Although our transatlantic cooperation is weakened by geopolitical disruptions and the return of great power politics, NATO is almost unanimously self-considered the most successful military alliance. How are cohesion and “allied strong” approach playing up their role in keeping the West united at a time when we should celebrate three decades since the values on which NATO was founded began to find their ground in Central and Eastern Europe? 

Ambassador Ildem: NATO’s centre of gravity, its essential strength, is the commitment of its members to stand up for each other. Article 5 in this respect is the core of the North Atlantic Treaty. Cohesion among Allies is the Secretary General’s priority at all times, and that of his collaborators. This is why it is important to attend seminars such as the Bucharest Security Forum, which helps to develop a common view of challenges and threats.

CaleaEuropeană.ro: In a few weeks, NATO leaders will gather in London to mark 70 years of the North-Atlantic family. At the same time, many allies celebrate ten, fifteen or twenty years since joining the Euro-Atlantic community. What does the future hold for NATO?

Ambassador Ildem: Citizens and experts alike recognize NATO’s historical capacity to adapt. This is why it has celebrated this year its 70th anniversary. In looking to the future, NATO is again taking the steps to adapt to a changed security environment. It has taken steps to reinforce its defence and deterrence in the biggest effort in a generation, following Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014. It is busy developing responses to hybrid and cyber challenges and to instability in the South. It seeks to enhance the resilience of its operations, and helps Allies do the same. It works with partners to strengthen their defense establishments. NATO is fully committed to remaining fit for purpose as challenges to security continue to evolve.


Ambassador Tacan Ildem was appointed Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy in March 2016. He advises the Secretary General on public diplomacy issues and directs the Public Diplomacy Division (PDD), which plays a key role in conveying the Alliance’s strategic and political messages to opinion formers and to the public in general. PDD works to raise the Alliance’s profile with audiences world-wide and to build support for Alliance operations and policies.

Robert Lupițu este redactor-șef, specialist în relații internaționale, jurnalist în afaceri europene și doctorand în domeniul reasigurării strategice a NATO. Robert este laureat al concursului ”Reporter și Blogger European” la categoria Editorial și co-autor al volumelor ”România transatlantică” și ”100 de pași pentru o cetățenie europeană activă”. Face parte din Global Shapers Community, o inițiativă World Economic Forum, și este Young Strategic Leader în cadrul inițiativelor The Aspen Institute. Din 2019, Robert este parte a programului #TT27 Leadership Academy organizat de European Political Strategy Center, think tank-ul Comisiei Europene.

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Head of Romanian EPP MEPs responds to S&D Group leader: Treat Romania differently. You cannot compare PSD’s attacks against the rule of law with EPP Government measures

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The actions undertaken against the rule of law by the former Social-Democrat governments in Romania cannot be compared with recent measures announced by the centre-right government, member of EPP family, says MEP Rareș Bogdan, head of the Romanian delegation within the EPP Group in the European Parliament.

In an exclusive statement for CaleaEuropeană.ro, Bogdan responded to critics drawn by Iratxe Garcia, leader of the Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament. In a Twitter post earlier on Monday, Garcia said EPP Romanian government should take note of Venice Commission, which prohibits changing the electoral law one year ahead of the elections.

The Spaniard MEP advised the Romanian Government against going the ”same path as Poland and Hungary” in ”undermining the rule of law”.

In his reaction, Rareș Bogdan mentioned that we would ask for a discussion with ”Mrs. Garcia to clarify that her statement was made without knowing the reality in Romania and the steps taken by the Orban government”.

“I think there is no bad will, but a simply less unfortunate information about the situation in Romania”, he replied.

”There is no term of comparison” between PSD and PNL, said Bogdan, ”although both parties are from Romania”.

”You cannot compare the continuous attack of PSD against Romania’s strategic partnerships with the EU and the US, against the rule of law (…) with the natural, logical and normal proposal of PNL, using constitutional tools, to introduce a two rounds vote for the local elections in June 2020. The purpose of our proposal is to enhance the representativeness and legitimacy of the elected local politician. By introducing a two rounds election we do not reduce, in any case, electoral rights”, explained the head of the Romanian delegation in the EPP Group.

Moreover, Rareș Bogdan asked that the situation in Romania to be treated ”differently”, considering Garcia’s comparison with the situations in Poland and Hungary.

“My request is that our colleagues in the European Parliament treat Romania as a different situation. Also, pay close attention to the statements of the leaders in Bucharest, led by President Klaus Iohannis and the right-wing Prime Minister Ludovic Orban, who have no connection with the statements made by Romanian officials at the head of the Government or Parliament in the period 2017-2019”, said Bogdan.

 

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Take part in the #EUCanBeatCancer campaign. EPP group urge the Member States to join forces and fight cancer together

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© EPP/ Facebook

EPP Group, the largest political family in the European Parliament, is launching a cancer awareness campaign, the disease that causes one of four deaths in Europe.

Through #EUCanBeatCancer campaign, the EPP group calls for better cooperation between research centers in Europe, more money for cancer research, but also fair and accessible care across Europe for citizens.

© EPP/ Facebook

How can you get involved in the #EUCanBeatCancer campaign

You can join the 1537 citizens already registered in the campaign through 4 simple steps:

  1. You subscribe using the email address HERE
  2. Follow the #EUCanBeatCancer campaign on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter
  3. Use the Twibbon  in the profile picture
  4. Draw the Twibbon symbol and post it in order to show support

Everyone has their own story about cancer, even European politicians or leaders:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to the World Health Organization, one third of cancers are preventable and half of the deaths could be prevented.

Breast cancer is the second most common form of cancer in Romania and in many cases the disease is detected when it is already in an advanced stage.

According to the private health network, Regina Maria, in Romania, 80% of breast cancers are diagnosed in the advanced phase, a stage in which the treatment can not bring healing, but only prolong the survival.

Romania had the lowest rates  (0.2% of women aged 50-69 – 2015) in breast cancer screening.

 

Our multimedia platform – Calea Europeana – has joined the #EUCanBeatCancer campaign. During the campaign informative articles will be published and we will keep you updated with the measures taken at European level to beat cancer.

© CaleaEuropeana

 

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Citizens’ and Youth Agoras to be the cornerstone of the Conference on the Future of Europe, MEPs say

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Citizen and Youth meetings should set the tone for EU reform, according to the resolution adopted on Wednesday by the European Parliament, were MEPs propose establishing several Citizens’ and Youth Agoras under the Future of Europe Conference that should be launched on Europe Day 2020.

Following a debate with Dubravka Šuica, Commission Vice-President for Democracy and Demography and Nikolina Brnjac, representing the Croatian Presidency of the Council, Parliament adopted a resolution setting out its vision for the upcoming Conference on the Future of Europe with 494 votes for, 147 against and 49 abstentions.

MEPs want citizens to be at the core of broad discussions on how to tackle internal and external challenges that were not foreseen at the time of the Lisbon Treaty. People of all backgrounds, civil society representatives and stakeholders at European, national, regional and local level must be involved in setting the EU’s priorities in line with citizens’ concerns in a bottom-up, transparent, inclusive, participatory and well-balanced approach.

Parliament proposes establishing several Citizens’ Agoras (thematic fora of citizen representatives chosen randomly in line with proportionality and representativeness criteria), and at least two Youth Agoras, each comprising 200-300 citizens with a minimum of three per member state. Citizen representatives will discuss Agora conclusions at the Conference Plenary with MEPs and national parliament representatives, Council ministers, Commission Vice-Presidents and representatives of other EU institutions, bodies and social partners.

You can also read about Agora – Future of Europe concept launched in 2017 by CaleaEuropeană.ro and the EC Representation in Romania

In addition to high-level support from the presidents of the three main EU institutions, Parliament urges Council and Commission to commit to the possibility of treaty change. The adopted text also underlines that a permanent mechanism to engage citizens should be considered.

Parliament is the first among the three main EU institutions to adopt a position on the set-up and scope of the upcoming Conference. Negotiations with the Commission and the European Council should be concluded in time for the Conference to be launched on Europe Day 2020 (May 9) and run until summer 2022.

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