NATO Engages 2018

As the heads of state and government from the twenty-nine NATO member states gather in Brussels on July 11 and 12, the Atlantic Council will co-host NATO Engages: The Brussels Summit Dialogue—the official high-profile outreach effort for the Alliance’s summit.

NATO Engages is being convened at a critical time in the history of the Alliance that has given the West its longest period of peace without a major power conflict in centuries. Today, NATO is grappling with internal and external challenges as well as questions about the value it provides. In these challenges the Atlantic Council sees an opportunity.

The Atlantic Council has seized on this opportunity to shape the conversation along with its NATO Engages co-hosts—NATO Public Diplomacy Division, the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF), the Munich Security Conference (MSC), and Women in International Security (WIIS). Headliners at the conference include a prominent and diverse lineup of heads of state and government, officials, and international security experts.

NATO Engages will provide an exciting opportunity to receive insights from speakers who have their finger on the pulse of the Alliance. Participants will get to reach an audience of tens of millions of people on social media globally. More than four hundred in-person attendees will participate in several breakout sessions to interact directly with NATO officials and influencers.

Key themes for the two days will include items from the NATO Summit agenda: conventional defense and deterrence, counterterrorism, stabilization, burden-sharing, maritime security, NATO-Russia relations, NATO-EU cooperation, hybrid and cyber threats, and inclusion.

On July 11, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg will set the stage for the NATO Summit in a conversation with CNN’s Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr. NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller will make initial remarks at the opening of the summit, which will be followed by what promises to be a riveting panel discussion on “A Shifting Global Order and an Alliance Under Pressure” featuring Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz, and German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will then be joined by his Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland, and his Minister of Defense, Harjit Singh Sajjan, for a passionate discussion of NATO’s shared global values.  

Day one of NATO Engages will also include discussions on hot topics such as disinformation and election interference as well as defense and deterrence in the modern age.

The prime minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Zoran Zaev, will be a notable presence at the event. Zaev recently struck a deal with his Greek counterpart to end a twenty-seven year name dispute—potentially paving the way for Macedonia to be invited to join NATO. Zaev take part in a conversation moderated by Damon Wilson, executive vice president of the Atlantic Council.

There will be a special screening of NATO HQ: Behind the Lines and a discussion with Jamie Shea, NATO’s deputy assistant secretary general for emerging security challenges.

On July 12, too, there is a power-packed agenda. Some of the speakers include: Icelandic Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir, Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, and Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, Supreme Allied Commander Europe and Commander of the US European Command. Scaparrotti is a recipient of the Atlantic Council’s Distinguished Military Leadership Award, which was presented to him at an awards dinner in Washington on May 10.

Margvelashvili and Poroshenko will participate in a conversation moderated by Atlantic Council President and Chief Executive Officer Frederick Kempe, while Scaparrotti will join retired US Marine Corps Gen. James L. Jones, Jr., interim chairman of the Atlantic Council’s board of directors, in a discussion.

Another notable session includes Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Paolo Alli, president of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. They will discuss a critical and hotly debated topic: “The US Role in NATO and the Future of the Transatlantic Bond.”

Additionally, the President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, will give a keynote speech on Thursday night before NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller closes the event.   

A livestream of the public events will be available on July 11 and 12 here: For updates on the event please follow the Atlantic Council on Twitter (@AtlanticCouncil) and the hashtag #NATOEngages.

David A. Wemer is assistant director, editorial, at the Atlantic Council. Follow him on Twitter @DavidAWemer.