Key Note Address 

by H.E. Amb. Tacan ILDEM, Assistant Secretary General, Public Diplomacy Division, NATO, During the ATA Conference “NATO-EU Cooperation after the Warsaw Summit: Countering Hybrid Warfare

Subject: Cooperative Security Strategy for NATO-EU relations following the Warsaw Summit


Thank you, President Luciolli. I am pleased to be here with you this afternoon. Thank you as well to Jason and his team at Atlantic Treaty Association for organizing this event on a subject that is both timely and important.

Today, the Euro-Atlantic community faces enormous challenges. We live in the most demanding security environment we have seen in many years – confronted by serious threats from both the South and the East, as well as unprecedented hybrid challenges.

Given the challenges we face, the relationship between the EU and NATO has never been so important. Fortunately, this relationship has never been so strong as it is today.

Cooperative security

NATO has long recognized the importance of partnership and cooperative security. We formally began working with partners over 25 years ago as the Cold War ended and the vision of a Europe whole, free, and at peace gained new momentum.

Working with individual partner countries, we fostered new and closer relationships. And working with international institutions, we began to understand how the unique strengths and capacities of organizations like NATO, the UN, OSCE, and the European Union, could best be brought to bear on the key challenges of the day through a comprehensive approach.

In 2010 at NATO’s Summit in Lisbon, we formally adopted cooperative security as a core task – alongside collective defence and crisis management. By recognizing the value of our partnerships and prioritizing this work, we took a more proactive stand towards:

  • achieving international harmony and cooperation;
  • synchronizing efforts to deal with new multidimensional threats;
  • and to providing a better understanding of common problems.

I would like to underline that third element related to common problems. We know that our challenges are many – and that they are shared. We see increasing demands on limited resources and rapidly evolving challenges that sometimes test our understanding and our capacities. But we also know that we have much to offer and much to gain – and that we will be best equipped to enhance Euro-Atlantic security when we work together.

EU, NATO common interests

NATO and the EU are unique and essential partners. We aspire to the security and prosperity of all of our members – many of which we also share. 90 percent of all EU citizens live in a NATO member state – so there is substantial overlap simply in terms of the people we exist to serve.

Yet we are linked by far more than territory and population. Our deeply-held values are the ties that bind.

NATO and the EU work hand-in-hand to increase European security because we believe in peace, security, and prosperity. And because we believe that the international rules-based order on which these depend is worth defending.

Evolution of NATO-EU cooperation

For many years, NATO and the EU have worked together, whether through staff-level cooperation or the attendance of our highest officials at each other’s formal meetings. In July of this year, however, we underscored the importance of doing more to advance the relationship between NATO and the EU.

In Warsaw for the NATO Summit, Secretary General Stoltenberg signed a Joint Declaration with Presidents Juncker and Tusk. This set out our joint plans to work more closely in several areas – including countering hybrid threats, enhancing resilience, building defence capacity, improving cyber defence, and advancing our cooperation in relation to maritime security and exercises.

This is crucial progress. And I’d like to make clear that this enhanced cooperation has every day consequences for how we work together and what we can achieve.

Our cooperation in the Aegean Sea is one example. Thanks to our joint efforts, together with Greece and Turkey, the flow of migrants has decreased substantially. Of course the situation in the Mediterranean remains extremely serious and we continue to see illegal human trafficking and tragic loss of life. This is why Allies decided that NATO’s new Operation Sea Guardian will support the EU’s Operation Sophia. We can tackle this challenge best by working together.

This is an example of how we can do more together in the field – but there’s also much we can do together here in Brussels. For example, NATO’s Public Diplomacy Division is implementing the Joint Declaration by broadening the areas in which we coordinate – not focusing only on immediate and practical issues but approaching our common challenges early and from a strategic perspective. We coordinate on best practices, share information, and exchange views. This experience solidifies unity of approach and shared narrative of the two institutions in relation to Russia as well as in other areas of mutual interest.

And across NATO’s many Divisions – and across the EU – similar deliberate, structured, and strategic efforts are being made. Successfully countering hybrid warfare demands the contributions of a wide range of actors from across the EU, NATO, and beyond. The development of joint “playbooks” should allow us to identify ways in which we can support one another in hybrid situations and should our member nations come under attack.

A stronger European defence

While NATO and the EU are doing more to ensure that we can draw on our unique and complementary strengths to address common challenges, the EU is also considering options for strengthening European defence. I know that this has long been seen as a divisive issue – dating back decades to discussions about potential duplication, de-linking, or discrimination.

And while that famous debate is revived and rehashed across this town and beyond, the reality is that a strong Europe and a strong NATO are mutually reinforcing. Of course it is important that NATO-EU defence efforts be complementary, transparent, and mutually supportive, avoiding duplication.

But it is also important to recognize that increased defence spending and enhanced capabilities among European Allies is a good thing.

Furthermore, a strong EU and a strong NATO reinforces the transatlantic bond.

With a new administration soon to arrive in Washington, this is an important time to note that the partnership between Europe and the United States has been rock-solid for almost seventy years. There is no doubt that a strong NATO is good for both the United States and for Europe.


So where do we go from here? As we face the greatest security challenges in a generation, cooperation has never been more key. We have increased cooperation between NATO and the EU, yet more can and must be done to strengthen this relationship.

As we work through this afternoon and this evening’s proceedings, I urge participants to consider how they can strengthen the EU-NATO relationship.

We are united in our values and our belief in the international rules-based system. Yet that system is being challenged. Now is the time to ensure that we are doing our best to guarantee the peace, security and prosperity that we all have the privilege to enjoy. We can do this best together.

Thank you.