Director of CEAS, Jelena Milic among the signatories
Seventy years ago, after the experience of two world wars and centuries of conflict on the European continent, twelve countries came together to preserve peace and safeguard their freedom. Based on a shared commitment to each other, they signed the North Atlantic Treaty in 1949—establishing a binding covenant between North Americans and Europeans. Decades later, the defeat of European communism between 1989 and 1991 was a ringing validation of the faith that allies had placed in each other—as well as the aspirations of formerly captive peoples who desired to live free.
In 2019, we commemorate these incredible events and consider the future. Our Euro-Atlantic Alliance has since expanded from its twelve founding members to twenty-nine, generating even greater security in numbers. History, however, has not ended.
After seven decades, North Americans and Europeans—together—face an unprecedented array of challenges. The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, instability and aggressive military activities on the Euroatlantic periphery, terrorism, hybrid threats, cyber-attacks, and non-compliance with international law and commitments all transcend traditional borders. In response, there is no better means of contending with these dangers than the enduring vitality and solidarity of our shared Alliance. No country can face every threat alone; nor can any single ally ensure the stability and prosperity of all. We all require the bonds of friendship.
At the individual and national levels, we must meet the 21st century with resolve and renewed commitment to the founding principles which granted our Alliance unprecedented success in the past. As an inspiration to this challenge, we recall NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s address to the United States Congress in April 2019: “The Atlantic does not divide us. It unites us. It binds us together.” It now falls to the current generation of North Americans and Europeans to solemnly reaffirm their shared commitment to each other.
On the occasion of the 2019 CEPA Forum, we take this opportunity to both remember the cost of war and accept the price of peace. We recall the founding principles of NATO: that “all members are determined to safeguard the freedom, common heritage, and civilization of their people, which are founded on democracy, individual liberty, and the rule of law; to promote stability and well-being in the North Atlantic area; to unite our efforts for collective defense; and to preserve peace and security.”
Today, we reaffirm our commitment to the transatlantic bonds that make our Alliance strong.