On March 27, the Atlantic Council hosted Danish Minister of Defense Nick Hækkerup for a strategy session to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing NATO in the lead-up to the Chicago Summit in May. The session included many senior representatives from the Washington policy and industry communities, and was moderated by executive vice president of the Atlantic Council, Damon Wilson.


In December, the Atlantic Council hosted a similar strategy session for the Danish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Villy Søvndal, to discuss NATO’s role in Afghanistan. The session for Minister Søvndal directly followed his visits to Kabul and Helmand where he met with Afghan and ISAF leaders. As major questions remain over the substantive items on the Summit agenda, from the transition of security responsibility in Afghanistan, to the Smart Defense Initiative, Denmark will certainly play an important role. A country that punches above its weight in the Alliance, on a per capita basis Denmark has the second highest number of soldiers in Afghanistan and is the second largest contributor to civilian rebuilding as well, both measured on a per capita basis. Denmark also proved to be a key contributor to NATO’s Operation Unified Protector last summer in Libya.

Minister Hækkerup began his tenure as Danish minister of defense in October 2011, after serving in the Danish parliament since 2007. He has also served as vice chairman of the Social Democratic Party since 2005. During his time in parliament, he served or sat on several committees, including finance, fiscal affairs, and municipal affairs. Prior to his role in parliament, Minister Hækkerup served as Mayor of Hillerød municipality, where he had the distintion of being the youngest mayor in Denmark in 2000 at the age of 32.

Related Experts: Damon Wilson