On Tuesday, April 9, the Atlantic Council’s Transatlantic Relations Program hosted a delegation from the German Atlantic Association for an off-the-record discussion of the future of NATO from the German perspective.

The delegation, featuring Christian Schmidt, parliamentary state secretary to the German Federal Ministry of Defense and General Klaus Naumann, former chief of staff of the German armed forces and former chairman of the NATO Military Committee, offered insight into a range of topics concerning the future of the alliance’s leadership, cooperation, and renewed importance in light of declines in defense spending on both sides of the Atlantic. Other topics included the potential for NATO expansion, the challenges of garnering political will in the domestic sphere, and the need to increase preparedness for a coordinated NATO response. The discussion was chaired by Ambassador Richard Burt, Atlantic Council board director and former US ambassador to Germany.

The delegation included:

Professor Dr. Stefan Fröhlich is a professor of international politics at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg.  Dr. Fröhlich‘s fields of interest include EU foreign and security policy, transatlantic relations, German foreign policy, and international political economy. He is a current senior fellow at the Center for European Integration Studies in Bonn, and has served as a visiting professor at John Hopkins University’s Center for Transatlantic Relations as well as at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.  

General Klaus Naumann (Ret.) is the former chief of staff of the German Armed Forces and the  former chairman of the NATO Military Committee. Serving from 1996 to 1999 as chairman of the NATO Military Committee, his tasks included the operations in Bosnia, the beginning of the Partnership for Peace, the 1999 enlargement of NATO, the approval of the 1999 Strategic Concept, and the Kosovo War. Following his retirement, General Naumann became a member of the Panel on UN Peace Operations in 2000, and joined the International Commission on State Sovereignty on Intervention in 2001.  He is a vice president of the German Atlantic Association.

Mr. Christian Schmidt is the parliamentary state secretary of Germany’s Federal Ministry of Defense. First elected to the German Bundestag in 1990, he has served in many committees over the years, including as defense spokesman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group in the German Bundestag, a member of the Defense Committee, and an alternate member of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Mr. Werner Sonne is a senior correspondent at ARD German TV. Werner Sonne retired as Berlin Bureau Chief for the ARD Morning Show in 2012. For more than forty decades, Mr. Sonne has had a career as a radio and television correspondent, covering many historic events. He worked as a foreign correspondent for eleven years on both sides of the Iron Curtain, including five years in Washington, DC.