Millennium Leadership Program

  • Greece Embraces the Center and Continues Course Out of Crisis

    Snap parliamentary elections in Greece on July 7 produced a victory for the political center, bucking a growing trend of populist victories across Europe. The triumph of the center-right New Democracy party and poor showing of extremist parties demonstrates that “Greece is now reinforcing the strength of the center in European politics, rather than fueling a move toward the fringes,” Atlantic Council Executive Vice President Damon Wilson said.

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  • A Strong NATO Could Help Alleviate the World’s Migrant and Refugee Crisis

    A few miles from NATO’s headquarters in Brussels last summer, four-year-old Mohammed from northern Iraq cheered for Belgium during the World Cup soccer semifinal against France. Every time a Belgian player got close to the goal, Mohammed excitedly waved the Belgian flag. Sixty days before, his two-year-old sister, Mawda, was shot dead by Belgian forces as his family, along with other refugees, tried to cross over to France. Now, finally granted asylum in Belgium after the tragedy, Mohammed is growing up as a Belgian.

    With the defeat of the Islamic State (ISIS) other Iraqi children will hopefully no longer have to undertake the treacherous journey Mohammed and his family were forced to make. Since ISIS’ defeat in Iraq in 2017 and in Syria this year, the flow of migrants from the Middle East slowed. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), 4.1 million refugees (of a total of nearly six million displaced


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  • Atlantic Council Welcomes 2019 Class of Millennium Fellows

    WASHINGTON, DC - On March 29th, the Atlantic Council announced it’s 2019 class of Millennium Fellows. An Italian entrepreneur bringing revolutionary vaccination technology to market to eradicate polio and measles rubella; a senior advisor to the Prime Minister of North Macedonia that led landmark legislation to change the country’s name in 2018; the chief-of-staff of the World Economic Forum; the Editor-in-Chief of the largest news organization in Afghanistan; and the youngest investment banking services representative in the history of Goldman Sachs. These are just some of the fellows selected to the 2019 cohort.

    The Millennium Fellowship has become one of the most competitive and highly sought-after programs in the world for future leaders (ages twenty-five to thirty-five) in the international affairs field. This year’s class of twenty-one was selected from nearly 1,200 applicants from over 100 countries – a 1.75% acceptance rate. They will join the Council’s


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  • Why the Irish Border Matters

    The land border shared by the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland has taken center stage in the current Brexit debate. The volume of trade that occurs between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, the potential for a renewal of ethnic violence, the isolationist views of Brexiteers in London, and the concerns of Northern Irish communities themselves have all combined to fuel a stalemate over the border. The reconciliation of these issues is essential to the passage and implementation of British Prime Minister Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement, and, according to the prime minister, to “ensure that there will be no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland—so people can live their lives as they do now.”

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  • Latvia Struggles to Form a Government

    In the early hours of October 7, it became clear that Latvia had followed in the footsteps of many of its European neighbors. The newly-elected parliament was fragmented, the ruling coalition had lost its majority, and populist parties enjoyed significant gains. Latvian voters demonstrated widespread disillusionment with politicians and politics in general—compared to 2014, turnout in the parliamentary elections on October 6 dropped by nearly five percentage points, a record low since the country regained its independence twenty-seven years ago. Most worryingly, all this happened amidst healthy economic growth.   

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  • Europe's New Normal: Turning the Migrant Challenge into an Opportunity

    While the story of 3.5 million Syrian refugees pouring into Turkey and the European Union has captured the world’s attention in recent years, those displaced souls weren’t the first to flee war, tyranny, and oppression, and they won’t be the last. With inhospitable temperatures across North Africa and Central Asia, constant war and conflict in Middle East hot spots, and the advance of authoritarian regimes, today’s refugees don’t represent a temporary conundrum, but rather a new normal of European life.

    This was the consistent message during my recent trip through the Atlantic Council’s Millennium Fellowship to the migrant-heavy region spanning from Gaziantep, Turkey, just thirty miles from the Syrian border, to the coastal escape of Çeşme on the Aegean Sea, to the Greek island of Lesbos, a major transit point for asylum seekers, and then to the country’s capital itself, the birthplace of Athenian democracy. High-level government officials, non-governmental organization...

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  • South Sudan Must End the Arbitrary Detention of Peter Biar Ajak

    We urge the government of South Sudan to end the arbitrary detention of Peter Biar Ajak, an alumnus of the Atlantic Council Millennium Fellowship, who was arrested in Juba July 28, 2018.

    The Millennium Fellowship is the Atlantic Council’s premier program for young leaders. Peter joined the extended Atlantic Council family upon his selection as a Millennium Fellow. He is the Founder and former Director of the Center for Strategic Analyses and Research, a policy think tank based in Juba, South Sudan. Peter is one of over 4,000 Sudanese “Lost Boys,” who came to the United States in 2001.  

    We urge that Peter’s rights be respected, his safety assured while in custody, and that he be released immediately. 

    Peter is one of many people to be arbitrarily detained in recent years in South Sudan. Too often, these cases go unnoticed and no one is held accountable.

    We call on...

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  • Complementarity Without Competition: How NATO Can Benefit from Stronger European Defense Cooperation

    Despite the current political tension in the transatlantic bond, the facts on the ground for NATO’s summit in Brussels on July 11 and 12 could not be better. After years of calls from the United States for more defense investment, NATO allies have been responding ever more credibly to meet the rising threats in the east and the south, independently and together. Favorable economic winds are increasing defense budgets for allies in Europe and Canada for the fourth consecutive year, and NATO defense ministers recently agreed to the “Four Thirties” initiative to bolster the Alliance’s military readiness. Meanwhile, a wealth of new initiatives to boost capabilities and readiness are growing in Europe, providing promising European answers to European challenges. NATO leaders – and the United States in particular – should contemplate how to support and complement these European programs, rather than nip the buds before...
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  • NATO Needs More Unmanned Aerial Systems

    NATO faces an array of security threats from the Arctic in the north, Russia in the east, and migrant flows from the south, all of which demand a dynamic and flexible defense force. Although members of the Alliance have increased investment in defense, their focus has been on expensive technology for a potential high-end conflict. Counterterrorism operations, meanwhile, have worn out the Alliance’s existing capabilities. This approach is unsustainable as NATO’s task-saturated and resource-constrained defense forces must both confront today’s security threats and prepare for tomorrow’s conflicts.

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  • NATO Must Meet Russia's Hybrid Warfare Challenge

    Russian President Vladimir Putin’s use of military force and hybrid warfare tactics in his country’s immediate neighborhood and beyond has brought into question NATO’s ability to defend its eastern border. Russian hybrid warfare, with an increased focus on asymmetric and nontraditional military capabilities, has made it considerably more difficult for NATO to counter destabilization efforts, information operations, cyberattacks, disinformation, propaganda, and psychological operations. Such hybrid warfare represents a security challenge not just for the frontline Baltic States, but also for all of NATO.

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