(Supported by NATO)
In the first week of June 2014 the Bulgarian Euro-Atlantic Youth Club organized a one-week seminar, which addressed some of the most important security aspects for NATO on the eve of the Alliance’s Summit in September that same year. During the course of the seminar young people from Bulgaria and other European countries, who are working in state institutions in charge of foreign relations and contacts with NATO, were acquainted with the important shift of priorities that affect all Alliance Members. Other important task during the workshop was to focus public opinion in Bulgaria on the benefits that NATO membership has brought to its government and its citizens. In this way the advantages of membership were also demonstrated to participants coming from countries that are yet to join the Alliance. The seminar highlighted not only the active contribution that Bulgaria has made to NATO and Euro-Atlantic security in the past decade but also discussed how participation in Alliance led missions and operations has benefited the Bulgarian Armed Forces and what impact it has on the Bulgarian priorities in NATO. Additionally, speakers and participants discussed the possible niches for specialization of smaller countries in the framework of the Smart Defense Initiative of the Alliance, as well as the contribution of newer members and smaller countries in the joint Alliance missions.
The main goals of the project were:
- To acquaint young civil servants working in state institutions in charge of foreign relations and contacts with NATO with the most important shift of priorities that affect all Alliance Members
- To convince the political elites and scientific communities in NATO member states in the need of more active cooperation and responsibility sharing towards achieving the Alliance’s common strategic and military goals.
- To raise the public awareness in the countries in SEE about the key priorities of NATO and to overcome some stereotypes regarding the Alliance that still affect public opinion in these countries.
The results from the realization of the project were:
- Outline the potential for joint activities in the areas of common security interest
- Brainstorm ideas about the some of the problematic issues between NATO member states
- Highlight the importance of the accession of all Balkan states to NATO in order to ensure the regional security in SEE.
- Define the opportunities for a more active role of small countries in the joint missions and operations of the Alliance.
The project was carried out in the city of Varna, Bulgaria, in 1-7 June 2014.