In 2019, ACB’s youth organization, the Bulgarian Euro-Atlantic Youth Club (BEAYC), conducted a 7-month project consisting of several types of activities aimed at increasing public support for NATO. The target groups of the project, named “NATO and the Next Generation”, comprised the successor generation (15 – 30 years old young persons from big cities and small towns, including less economically developed areas) and non-specialized audience (the broader public, opinion makers and journalists).
The goals of the project were to:
- increase knowledge, awareness and understanding of NATO and Bulgaria’s role in the Alliance;
- highlight and reflect upon the 7 decades of NATO’s transatlantic cooperation, the 15 years of Bulgaria’s membership in NATO and NATO’s irreplaceable role in promoting peace, safeguarding freedom and ensuring national security;
- bring knowledge of NATO closer to citizens’ everyday life (by showing them how efforts to defend their countries and preserve peace affect their daily lives);
- showcase NATO as an Alliance for the 21st century, relevant to each and every generation.
The events that were part of the project sought to reflect on NATO’s 70th anniversary and the 15th anniversary of Bulgaria’s membership in NATO. They included:
- public screening of the three videos dedicated to NATO, created as part of ACB’s NATO Youth Ambassadors project in 2018;
- a NATO Model Simulation;
- 14 local meetings with the NATO Youth Ambassadors.
On 4 April 2019, on the occasion of the signing of the Washington Treaty and Bulgaria’s accession to NATO, the team of ACB organized a public screening of the three videos dedicated to NATO, created as part of its NATO Youth Ambassadors project in 2018: “70 Years #WeAreNATO”; “70 Years Peace in Europe”; and “Unity is Our Force”. The event, which was held in Bulgaria’s capital city, Sofia, gathered a community of journalists, decision makers and civil society representatives, with the purpose to boost an informal communication between leaders in their own field, who could then multiply the message of the “importance of Bulgaria’s membership in NATO” and “NATO’s benefits for the security of its Member States”.
70 Years #WeAreNATO
70 Years Peace in Europe
Unity is Our Force
NATO Model Simulation
On 20 April 2019, in Sofia, the BEAYC organized a NATO Model Simulation at the Georgi Rakovski Military Academy in Sofia. The aim of the event was to bring together civilian and military students who would participate in a simulation of the North Atlantic Council (NAC) decision making process in a multidimensional fictitious but realistic international crisis situation that was challenging or threatening to the security of the Alliance. The simulation scenario included both vertical and horizontal issues, including regional threats to security, hybrid warfare and climate change problems, to better reflect the complexity and unpredictability of the present security environment. The scenario included fictitious countries as well. The 30 participants played the role of the Permanent Representatives (PERMREP) of NATO Member States and Members of the Partnership for Peace program. One participant took the role of NATO’s Secretary General. Each participant presented the position of their assigned country on the simulation scenario, after which a discussion followed among all of the participants. The simulation ended with the adoption of a NAC Decision.
Local meetings with NATO Youth Ambassadors
In April and May 2019, the BEAYC organized small discussions with the NATO Youth Ambassadors in their own local communities. The Youth Ambassadors are 29 young people from all over Bulgaria, selected via national competition to multiply the understanding and key messages of NATO among their peers. The Youth Ambassadors were chosen as part of an ACB project in 2018. The discussions were held by team splits (2 Youth Ambassadors per place, together with one NATO Information Centre team member to support them). The young ambassadors had the flexibility to choose their audience and venue, thus providing for the diversity of the meetings, which were held in school classes or school clubs, local clubs, youth organisations or youth informal groups. The discussions took place in the following cities and towns in Bulgaria: Sofia, Veliko Tarnovo, Varna, Yambol, Bourgas, Tutrakan, Pazardzhik, Kurzhali, Sliven, Dimitrovgrad, Peshtera, Plovdiv, Karlovo and Vidin. Each meeting had an audience of 15 – 20 young people aged between 15 and 25 years old, thus reaching a final number of 430 – 500 young people directly affected by the activities.