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Eger, 2-5. October 2018

The project is sponsored by NATO’s Public Diplomacy Division

NATO’s role is becoming, again, more and more important. In the years of the Cold War NATO was the only security guarantee for (Western) Europe. However, it was only the guarantee that Third World War could be avoided, thus indirectly, it was also the best security guarantee for the rest of Europe.

After the fall of Communism, the dissolution of both the Warsaw Treaty and the Soviet Union, this role of NATO seemed to vanish. Many thought “the end of history” arrived and there will be no need for military defence of Europe. Fortunately, the founding fathers of NATO formulated the task of the Alliance in such a way that it could remain the core security guarantor of the security of – now the entire – Europe.

Soon it became clear that the era of eternal peace has not yet arrived. First, the nasty conflicts on the territory of (former) Yugoslavia indicated that military force remained important for the security of European countries. Then the rise of terrorism and fundamentalism made clear that we need to continue to have a defensive alliance. And finally, unfortunately the rise of Russian imperialism and revisionism posed – mutatis mutandis - a similar threat to Europe than the one we had to face during the Cold War.

This means that NATO now has to face multiple threats and challenges: the “old” threat of a larger scale invasion re-emerged and it needs to be deterred by creating the necessary capabilities and political will. But the “new” unconventional threats did not go away: fundamentalism and terrorism continue to pose a threat to our security. And all this materializes in new forms, too: hybrid warfare and cyber war emerged as the most dangerous phenomena in the last decade.

Governments started to recognize this need for a renewed NATO and started to strengthen old and build new capabilities. This does not mean, however, that our publics are aware of these threats. The new generation, most of them born after 1990, have absolutely no memory of what role NATO (and the United States) played during the Cold War. Nor are they aware of what role NATO plays in countering the new threats in Europe and elsewhere.

Our project aims at making this knowledge available to them. We believe that it is essential to acquaint the new generations – the Y and Z generations – with this knowledge and help them recognize why security, including military security is still important and what role NATO can play in ensuring it to us.

It is especially important as we observe that Russian propaganda, using the most modern means of communication, is making every effort to spread fake news and misleading information targeting especially the young generations. We strongly believe that our publics, and especially the young people, must be made aware of these threats and the responses we offer, including by NATO.

The project will start with selecting 10-12 young women and men, who will be ready to

  • participate in a one-week training

  • will participate in running the NATO Club to be created for at least one year

The training will take place in the city of Eger. The training will include lectures on:

  • What is NATO? A short history

  • How NATO works?

  • Threats and challenges to NATO

  • NATO capabilities to counter these challenges

  • NATO’s role in ensuring Hungary’s security

  • Hungarian defence forces’ role in NATO

  • presentations skills and communication training

The lectures will start with presentations by high-level experts on NATO, including NATO officials. After that an interactive discussion will follow, including a one-day “wargame” and a one-day communication training.

Sustain the results: creation of a NATO Club

In order to make the effects of the project last we will create a virtual NATO Club. All the presenters and those participating in the meetings will have access to the website and the Facebook page. We will regularly post relevant publications, NATO documents and video interviews and establish a chat room. The chat room will be open once a week for asking questions – which also will be possible during the week and the most relevant questions will be answered – by NATO experts.

The website will open with a few video interviews by NATO representative(s), who will attend an event of this project, the Minister of Defense of Hungary and a few outstanding NATO experts. The website and the FB page will be operated in Hungarian and English (meaning that some materials will be in English, some in Hungarian).

Audience insight

The project will target the Y and Z generation, graduate and post-graduate students with special attention to gender balance. The creation of a small pool of young experts and their continued involvement in spreading knowledge about NATO and the necessity of security consciousness will make a significant contribution to raise interest for these issues, including the role of NATO in enhancing Hungary’s security.

The situation in this regard is quite difficult (not only) in Hungary. Young generations do not have any memory about the decades, when European security has been under constant challenge and NATO was the main element of deterrence and eventually defense – even when Hungary was on the “other side”, Hungary benefitted greatly from NATO’s existence and its contribution to security and stability by preventing war in Europe, which would have been devastating for everybody regardless of  what side the country in question would have been on in such a conflict.

In addition, Europeans must face the fact that Russian propaganda, helped by their supporters and “useful idiots” makes a serious effect in many countries, including Hungary. To face and fight this challenge (young and) credible experts are needed.

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