May 3, 2011
Atlantic Council Launches Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East
Atlantic Council President and CEO Frederick Kempe will formally introduce the two initiatives at the organization’s Annual Awards Dinner this evening, marking the beginning of the Council’s year-long 50th anniversary celebration. The keynote speaker will be Vice President Joe Biden and awards will be presented to Admiral Jim Stavridis, Supreme Allied Commander Europe, Coca-Cola chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent, and the great tenor and opera director Plàcido Domingo.
Named for the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, who was assassinated in 2005, the Atlantic Council’s new Middle East center will reflect Mr. Hariri’s efforts to rise above the region’s sectarianism and promote innovative policies to advance economic and political liberalization, sustainable conflict resolution, and greater regional and international integration. It will work with experts and institutions in the Middle East, Europe, Russia, and North America to more closely bind the regions.
“I knew and deeply respected Rafik Hariri,” said Senator Chuck Hagel, chairman of the Atlantic Council and a long-time member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Intelligence Committees. “We are passing through one of the most important moments in modern Middle Eastern history, and we believe that The Hariri Center will contribute much to our understanding of the challenges and the search for solutions in this region of the world”, he added.
“I am proud to support the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East to ensure my father’s legacy and to assist the region as we work our way through historic change,” said Bahaa Hariri, late prime minister’s eldest son, a prominent business leader, and the founding sponsor of the center. “The future of our region is greater convergence with the United States, Europe, and Russia, not divergence, and we believe the Hariri Center can find practical ways to advance that vision.”
The Scowcroft Center, which will begin its work next year following a capital campaign, will considerably expand the Council’s long-standing work on international security issues. Named for two-time National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, the Center will reflect his legacy of principled, consistent, non-partisan foreign policy leadership in close cooperation with transatlantic allied and global partners.
General James L. Jones, President Obama’s former national security adviser and former Supreme Allied Commander Europe, will serve as the Scowcroft Center’s founding chairman. George Lund, chairman of Torch Hill Investment Partners, will serve as the founding vice chair.
“This is a historic moment for the Atlantic Council,” said Kempe. “General Scowcroft not only embodies our mission, he also has been instrumental to the Council’s remarkable growth over the last four years and its renewed dynamism. General Scowcroft was national security advisor under both President Gerald Ford and President George H.W. Bush, when he was a steward of German and European unification and the Cold War’s peaceful end.”
General Scowcroft has served as the Council’s International Advisory Board chairman since 2006, has been a board director for more than 30 years, and was chairman of the Council from 1998 to 1999.
General Scowcroft said, “I am proud to be associated with this new exciting chapter of the Atlantic Council’s history at a time when the world sorely needs renewed and innovative transatlantic leadership. Closer Euro-Atlantic cooperation won’t solve the world’s problems, but it’s a precondition for addressing them effectively.”