Foreign ministers from France, Italy, and Sweden dissect NATO’s new Strategic Concept

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Luigi di Maio
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Italy

Catherine Colonna
Minister of Foreign Affairs, France

Ann Linde
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sweden

Frederick Kempe
President and CEO, Atlantic Council

FREDERICK KEMPE: OK. Here we go. If you could take your seats, we’re going to get—going to get started. We’re going to get started. Take your seats. That was just a terrific panel. We’re continuing the discussion here of the transatlantic bond and NATO’s role in a challenging world. I’d like to welcome Minister di Maio, Minister Colonna, Minister Linde. What an all-star panel. It’s great to have you all here.

I’m going to just kick the conversation off. And I don’t think it would be at all right if we didn’t start the conversation with the Foreign Minister of Sweden. So, first of all, congratulations.

ANN LINDE: Thank you very much. Yes.

FREDERICK KEMPE: So Foreign Minister Linde and I had a longer conversation at the beginning of February. And I don’t think either one of us would have predicted where we were right now. In fact, you know, two hundred years of history doesn’t change overnight, but it seemingly has. So I wonder whether you could start us by giving us a feeling of what happened from that early time in February when we met at the Munich Security Conference. Obviously, the war. But what happened inside Sweden? How did the domestic discourse change? And then what do you think this decision—you’ve always been—I’ve been operating in Washington for a while, leading the Atlantic Council. The transatlantic bond with Sweden’s always been tight, but this is different. What does this change for Sweden?

ANN LINDE: Well, let me start already in December, because in December we, as chair of the OSCE, had a ministerial in Stockholm. And we were more or less shocked by what Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said there, that we don’t believe anymore in the European security order. And we need you to take responsibility for our security. And they more or less said clearly: We want to have spheres of interest and not anymore let countries decide for themselves. Then this became worse. We got a letter, all the foreign ministers, saying that we want you to guarantee that you will not expand NATO, and that our security is taken care of. That meant, for Sweden and Finland, that we should not anymore be able to choose our own security. That rang alarm bells in us.

Then it came to Munich, where you and I had a discussion. And by that time, we still really didn’t believe that Russia would be so aggressive and go in full-scale invasion. And even Zelenskyy and my dear friend Kuleba, they said, please don’t have this war rhetoric, because our economy is really doing badly of that. And that was, like, four, five, six days before the invasion. Then full invasion came. And it was a military nonaligned, sovereign, democratic country that was just run over by Russia. And in the way they did it—I mean, it was with war crimes from the very beginning, targeting civilians. We saw pictures of maternity hospitals, children. I was many times in Ukraine, and three times on the contact line just before.

I was walking the streets of Mariupol with this wonderful theater with a red roof. And then I learned that there were six hundred people killed because the Russians sent a missile onto that red roof and killed six hundred people. That shocked the Swedish people, really, and it shocked the Finnish people, who has a 1,340 kilometers direct border to Russia. And we started to say: Are we safe after two hundred years where we have tried to take tension down, not to have any in the past, you know, military buildups.

And then we came to the conclusion after discussion with all the parliamentary partners, no, we don’t—we are not safe anymore. We need security guarantees because Russia has become totally unpredictable and they have warfare that is really dangerous.

It was a very, very difficult thing to get into our heads because we have really, really believed that our military nonalignment has been very, very good for our security, and the same for Finland.

Then when we came to that conclusion, we also saw that we have 85 percent of the members of parliament agreeing and 60 percent of the population agreeing, and that is how it looks now. Then we thought, after having spoken and having many meetings, that it will be rather quick.

Now, it was not that quick. One country, Turkey, had security concerns so we had to take that very seriously, and we have had many, many negotiation rounds with Turkey and yesterday, finally, after four and a half hours tough negotiations we came to a memorandum of understanding, and now I hope that it will be possible for us to join NATO as full members.

FREDERICK KEMPE: So there are a lot of people who are very interested in those four and a half hours and we know you can’t tell us everything about it. But can you give us a bit of the feeling of the atmospherics? Because it’s not normal to have a four-and-a-half-hour meeting on one issue at a NATO summit like this.

So, obviously, there must have been some feeling of history in the room. But give us your—I can’t—your Finnish colleague said earlier that you sweat through the drama or something. In any case, give us a feeling of the atmospherics yesterday.

ANN LINDE: Well, we had three leaders—two presidents and the prime minister—and three foreign ministers… and we have some very, very difficult questions.

But the atmosphere was respectful of each other, trying to get a text that we could all agree upon and that is, of course, difficult.

But, I think, because all the three countries came with good intention to solve this with constructive discussions even if it’s tough not everybody loves the text, of course, but we think it’s appropriate text that we have and that we can live with.

FREDERICK KEMPE: Thank you so much.

I’d like to turn to the—your Italian colleague, your French colleague, and maybe the first question will focus on this.

There have been different stages of NATO enlargement. There have been times when people think the alliance is getting over extended, other times when people want it to extend even further and faster, and there’s always been a debate here.

How would Finland and Sweden coming into the alliance change the alliance for you as an Italian, for you as a French leader? Please.

LUIGI DI MAIO: I think that the alliance will be stronger thanks to this new member state. And it’s very important for me to tell to Ann congratulations because we know very well what happened during the last months.

And I have to tell—I have to say at the same time that Sweden and Finland participated to a lot of meetings in our past—in the past of the NATO alliance because we’re reliable partners of NATO and we faced together a lot of challenges during the last years.

For example, we had the very important meeting one year and a half ago about the climate change and the effects of the climate change on the security in the northern Europe. But I think that it’s clear that Putin started this aggression against Ukraine in order to avoid more NATO borders at Russian borders. And the result is that two new countries are joining NATO. And this is an effect of the decision of Putin against Ukraine.

I think that we have to continue to be—to stay together, to work together, even with other…

FREDERICK KEMPE: And the Russians, who had—and they had 7 percent of Ukrainian territory before the war began, they now have 20 percent. And we have a strategic concept today. Putin’s strategic concept is a bit simpler and it seems to be hitting civilian targets, flattening certain areas and creating certain facts on the ground and perhaps liberating the ruble. Is NATO doing enough? Are we doing enough if Ukraine is this decisive—and you can tell me whether you agree with this, with Nancy Pelosi—is this decisive of an issue?

LUIGI DI MAIO: The words of Nancy Pelosi are really important because this defined the common values that we have to defend. We are not only an alliance in order to defend ourselves militarily, but we have to defend our values every day. And I—and I fully agree with Catherine about the complementarity of this… We have to avoid to give arguments to the Russian propaganda. When we are speaking about the internal unity and the domestic unity of the countries, like the NATO countries, it’s very important.

Because, one, there are some political parties, associations, representatives of institutions that are giving to the Russian propaganda the opportunity to use some sentences, some statements, in order to explain to all the world that there are even in the Western community, in the NATO community, there are people that are against Ukraine or against Zelenskyy. We are producing an impact on the consensus that Putin has—which Putin has in Russia, because he is using this propaganda in order to support and fuel the consensus for himself, and in order to justify, in a way, the war that is moving against Ukraine. This is very important in order to defend our common values and to defend our posture as countries and democracies, as free world.


Minister Linde, the same question. Are we doing enough? And if we’re not, be as specific as you can. Is it longer-range weapons we need to do? Is it S-300s? Is it MiGs? I agree with everything you’re all saying, but will any of it make enough difference if we’re not giving Ukraine more capability to stop the killing from the air?

ANN LINDE: Well, I think it has been a rather enormous effort from both Europe, but also other countries, especially, of course, from United States, UK, and Canada as well, to give weapons to Ukraine. But of course, we need to have enduring in this. We need to continue. And you can see already how difficult it was to get the sixth sanction package through in the EU. We managed, but we need to go further. We need to have seventh sanction package. We need to target gas. We managed first coal, then oil, and now we need gas. But that is difficult, because it’s also hitting people in the countries that are depending on gas. And then you need to have, you know, alternatives, like any responsible government needs to also take into account to get the support of the people for continuing.

I think that also that you can already see that in the media a little bit is going down. First it was, like, shock. It was everyday new things. Now the media attention has gone down a little bit. That is also affecting the public. And the public is affecting the politicians. So it’s really, really our responsibility to keep Ukraine and what Russia is doing high up on the agenda as much as we can, and use all kinds of forums, social media, trying to get it into interviews, trying to speak about it all the time. Because we have seen this so many times, that you have a catastrophe, you have a war. And then it just continue, but it slides away.

And I think that we should also be aware that Russia is not only a threat when it comes to NATO’s eastern flank, but it’s also for the southern flank, because of how they are now having actions in Mali with, for example, the Wagner Group. They have—Mali now kicked out European troops and get in Russian troops, or groups like—mercenaries like Wagner Group. In Central African Republic, in Libya. All of this creates instability in NATO’s southern flank. So we need to keep, you know, our attention not only to what’s happened there, but what’s happened also in the south. And that is eroding our international security. And here we need, of course, to embrace NATO’s 360-degree approach. And we hope that we can contribute to that by bringing a lot of new capabilities and our military forces also in cooperation with the rest of NATO.

FREDERICK KEMPE: That’s an excellent answer. Thank you so much for that.

I’m going to ask one question for the three of you—turn to the audience. I’m going to keep an eye open to see how much time we have.

But Frank—and the excellent previous panel—my colleague from NPR, underscored the strategic concept reference to China, and this is new. And this gets to the transatlantic bond and whether it can be applied to the Indo-Pacific, even at a time when we’re looking at Russia.

He read the first part of the item. I’ll read the last part. It says, China “strives to subvert the rules-based international order, including in the space, cyber and maritime domains. The deepening strategic partnership between the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation and they’re mutually reinforcing attempts to undercut the rules-based international order run counter to our values and interests.”

When you consider how many members there are of NATO, that’s very strong language. You know, what does this actually obligate NATO to do, and was everyone on the same page? Because people have vastly different economic interests in China, and certainly, China has not launched the war in Ukraine, even though it certainly hasn’t acted against it.

So, maybe, Minister Colonna, we can start with you, and then have all three of you answer that as briefly as you can.

CATHERINE COLONNA: Thank you. I’ll be as short as I can on a touchy issue.

The discussions have been long and quite complex, but the result is reflecting the nature of our common ground. China is a competitor. It can be also challenging the, you know, rules-based order. Maybe thinking about replacing it with its own.

Then, we have to be careful to address these issues. China being more and more assertive, not only in the Pacific, by the way—and you mentioned a few other issues—

FREDERICK KEMPE: The Global South, for sure, yeah.

CATHERINE COLONNA: For sure. We, nevertheless, have to be attentive not to play that narrative that some would like to see brought on the front page of bloc against bloc. It’s not, you know, the West against the East. We’re just addressing a few challenges. We are partners in other areas, and namely for China, you know, climate change would be one of areas of cooperation. There are others.

So, we have to answer in a diversified way to a series of multiple and very complex challenges. We tried to do that since the document does reflect the proper balance between what we have to address as an alliance, which is not China per se, but China in the respect where it could be challenging the Euro-Atlantic community, which is part of our job today.

The rest is open to different groups, different cooperation. Some kind could be EU. Some kind could be, you know, Pacific organizations. It’s a multiple layer, I would say, set of relations.

But the result is a good result. We are not simplistic. We are open to dialogue, and we are quite honest in the challenges we’re facing as an alliance.


Minister di Maio?

LUIGI DI MAIO: A few words about technologies because I think that we have to invest more attention and to keep our attention on the technologies because technology is neutral. Artificial intelligence is neutral.

But there are some countries in the world that are using artificial intelligence in order to reduce the human rights. In the past, they needed huge organizations on the military side, on the police side. Now, they can instruct an artificial intelligence in order to reduce the human rights in some areas of the world.

So, as NATO, as allies, but even as European member states, we have to introduce new policies and a new attention about this kind of issue because it’s crucial. There are artificial intelligences that are learning how to reduce the human rights for some areas of the world, of some areas of the countries, and I think that the Indo-Pacific path that we are creating with—between NATO and some partners is very important in order to reduce the effect of some technologies in countries that are looking to the Free World.

FREDERICK KEMPE: Thank you for that. And to quote the strategic concept—underscoring what you just said Mr. Minister—“The PRC seeks to control key technological and industrial sectors, critical infrastructure, and strategic materials and supply chains. It uses its economic leverage to create strategic dependencies and enhance its influence.”

By the way, my compliments to anyone from NATO in the room. Some of you know I was at The Wall Street Journal for twenty-five years. I’m a recovering journalist. It’s really terse. It’s sharply written. It’s well argued. And I think this will stand up to scrutiny.

On China, Sweden has not got a totally uncomplicated relationship with China. How do you view this? You’re not yet in NATO, but how do you view this statement on China and the strategic concept?

ANN LINDE: Well, I think, as you said, it’s very important we have it. We can see now that China’s stance against NATO expansion, that China has supported Russian security interests. That shows the tension is growing; the very, very tough rhetoric on anything that has to do with Taiwan, the issue of, like Luigi say, about the technology. We just had a case in our courts about the 5G and Huawei, which I think many countries are having these discussions and the Chinese-run companies using all the means in the judiciary system to get into also very delicate infrastructure.

And here I think, from the EU side, we woke up a little late when it comes to investment screening and having also security perspective on investment and infrastructure, because we need Chinese trade and Chinese investment. But we need also not to be naïve, to let Chinese interests into things that are sensitive for the security.

We also need not to have, you know, too adverse stance against China, because we need to solve some global problems together with China, like climate, for example, which is one of the main issues, of course. So it’s—like Catherine said, you have to have, you know, both challenges and also opportunities in the relation to China. We have to deal with that. But it’s not easy. And I think there has been a shift the last years in how we see the relation with China.

FREDERICK KEMPE: Thank you for that.

So I’m going to watch both of the microphones to see if anyone is going up to them for a question. And I’ll ask another question while I’m watching. Do I see—oh, there we go. Please go over and ask your question. I’m looking to—Senator Coons sounds like—looks like he may want to ask something. OK.

Great to have you here, sir. Please.

Q: Thank you very much.

FREDERICK KEMPE: And if you could identify yourself and to whom you’d like to pose the question.

Q: Yes… my question is, we are focusing very much on Baltic Sea, and congratulations for Sweden and Finland, but the challenge in the Black Sea is much bigger. We have France taking lead in Romania, Italy in Bulgaria. But we have these limitations of Montreux for ships in Black Sea. So how do you see addressing this balance? Because for forward presence, it was—enhanced forward presence quite different from tailored forward presence. Now, with forward defense, we are discussing. Do you see any opportunity to balance between north and south when it comes to forward deployment? Thank you.

FREDERICK KEMPE: I’m going to add to your Black Sea question. Is it not time for us to break the blockade and get the food out? I mean, Turkey will take out the land mines. We can do a convoy. Russia has no right to blockade this open-sea water. And it’s leading to starvation and hunger across the world. Should that be not also something we do in the Black Sea?



LUIGI DI MAIO: Yes. I think that it’s very important that Ann before mentioned the 360-degree approach, because she comes from a—she represents a northern country. But at the same time, it’s very—it testifies how it’s important to have an approach about the core tasks of NATO and even this other flank in the southern-east flank of our alliance in order to ensure our security.

Obviously, NATO is a defensive alliance, but it’s clear that in the Black Sea we have to push on the mediation of UN in order to remove the blockade about wheat, and at the same time we have to increase all our tools in order to guarantee in a useful way the security of our allies in the region. So if we need to improve and to implement more the—our systems of security in the region on the defensive side, we will do it.

FREDERICK KEMPE: Thank you for that.


Q: Hello. Good afternoon. My name is Alessandro Marrone. I’m the head of defense program at International Affairs Institute—Istituto Affari Internazionali Rome.

So thanks to the three ministers for the speech. I have a question for Mr. di Maio and Ms. Colonna.

How do you see cooperation between Italy and France for the stability of North Africa, Sahel, and Middle East within NATO, within EU, or within ad hoc coalition? Because it seems to be the NATO strategic concept is more focused on collective defense. So, perhaps, there is more room for European initiative in NATO or in the EU for the stabilization of the southern flank.

FREDERICK KEMPE: So it’s a really interesting question. Is it a bilateral approach, is it a EU approach, or is it a NATO approach you would take?

CATHERINE COLONNA: Everything together preferably in a coordinated way. No, we do share many interests and views on the Med Sea, for obvious reason. We are, you know, countries of the south of Europe and open to that sea, which is to our civilization, by the way.

And I would like to add that occupation has been increasing over the years. Luigi remembers I was in Rome a few years ago. I think we’ve made very good and positive steps since that, regardless of my departure from Rome, by the way. I want to be precise on that. No, we’ve been moving and including on touchy issues.

By the way, this is not my only answer to your question. It is a combination of everything. You know, we have sometimes a view that it is one or the other. That’s not the reality. That’s not the reality of world affairs.

Europe has a huge interest in the Med Sea, has huge programs to help the Mediterranean region. Not new. It has been going on for decades. One might say it’s not enough. We should do more. We should use several leverage tools that we might have.

But I would say this is one part of our action. The combined bilateral France and Italy are not alone in the Mediterranean, by the way, is another step of action we can use. And NATO might have a role case by case. You know, it happened in the past, that to check some goods we had to use NATO capacities, just like today, facing Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.

NATO is monitoring what’s happening in the Mediterranean Sea and in the Black Sea as well, and in the North Atlantic as well. So, again, it’s a combination, possibly in a good—well, precisely coordinated way that brings the answer.

FREDERICK KEMPE: Thank you very much for that excellent question.

We’ve got seven minutes left. I’d like to pick up on something that—oh, I see we have a question here from one of our young leaders from Estonia, right. The president of YATA, I believe. Yeah.

Q: Hello, everyone. It’s a pleasure for me to be here. I’m Juxhina, and it’s an honor for me to represent the Youth Atlantic Treaty Association.

Being from Albania, I would like to shift a bit the attention over the western Balkan countries. We have been witnessing a lot of summits recently and many not so positively awaited response to the full integration of some Balkan countries into the Euro-Atlantic community.

In your opinion, how do you see this situation and will it be explored from the Russian more within—in terms of disinformation campaigns or malign influences, considering also the difficulties over in Bosnia-Herzegovina or Kosovo itself?

Thank you.

FREDERICK KEMPE: And we all know the western Balkans has been a priority area for Moscow.

So which of you would like to take that on?

Yeah. Please.

ANN LINDE: Well, I can start by saying that I think one of the first things we have to do is to try immediately to solve the discussion that Bulgaria has raised with North Macedonia so North Macedonia and Albania can become—start their negotiation with the EU.

I think both countries has done their homework, and it’s actually embarrassing for EU that we cannot fulfill the decision that we have already taken to start the negotiation. And I hope that we will solve that because, of course, there needs to be this European perspective for the western Balkan countries. Not only perspective, but to be able to become members.

Here, of course, it’s also important in line with this that both Ukraine and Moldova get candidate status at the last summit, and soon to be, I think, Georgia will get it too, after they have fulfilled some of the difficulties that they have in Georgia. I think that there is a growing understanding in EU that this also is a geopolitical situation, where if we don’t get into—you know, closer to real negotiations and go forward with these countries, that the interest from population to turn away from Europe to other parts will maybe grow. And that is something that we need to hinder.

FREDERICK KEMPE: Thank you for that answer. And thank you for your leadership of the young—the YATA, the Young Atlantic Treaty Association. If anyone questions whether NATO is about the future, you have to get to know these next-generation leaders. Very dynamic, terrific group. And, by the way, we honored Dua Lipa last year with one of our highest honors. So we also understand that this is a person who has a good vision for the future of the Balkans and the future of the youth in the Balkans.

I see one more question. This may be our last, but let’s see how far we can go.

Q: Good afternoon. Thank you very much to the panel for—

FREDERICK KEMPE: And if you could introduce yourself too.

Q: Thank you to the panel for your remarks today. My name is Rebecca Eastwick-Haskell and I’m from NATO’s Special Operations Headquarters.

And my question is about the rise of authoritarianism, not just from our adversaries but within our own nations. And I wonder, since the strategic concept specifically calls out the alliance as the premier transatlantic forum for dialogue, and we’re based on shared values, what it is that within the alliance we could do to protect those values that we all hold dear to ourselves? Thank you.

FREDERICK KEMPE: So let me give—well, we’re running out of time—but maybe one minute for each of you on this authoritarianism versus democracy issue. I know it’s a short time, but I like the fact that Prime Minister—I’m sorry; I promoted you—Foreign Minister Linde, I liked the way that she talked about the domestic political situation. Foreign Minister Colonna, you have a domestic political situation that’s also quite difficult. How do you—how do we manage democracies to have staying power to actually stay in this fight against an autocracy that—where decisions are a lot simpler to make? Why don’t you start? One minute for each of you, and then we’ll have to close.

CATHERINE COLONNA: One minute? I don’t think I’ve noticed that France turned into an authoritarian regime.

FREDERICK KEMPE: Oh, actually, it looks like we have a little bit more time. So go ahead.

CATHERINE COLONNA: So the question is not so much applicable to France, I believe, but to the European Union at large, because, yes, we’ve seen some populist movements on the rise. Not everywhere, but in quite a few—maybe too many countries. I’d say two things. First of all, we have to remind everyone that being part of the European community is being part of a community of values. You know, and I’ll name a few—democracy, the rule of law, respect for each other, and respect of civil liberties. Sometimes it’s worth to pass the message again and again. And I won’t go further into referring to specific situations but, yes, we have to repeat what we are and to illustrate what we are, giving the best possible example.

Then Fred is speaking—to be honest, we have to address these issues that fuel in some misunderstandings, sometimes some anger. And, you know, I’m extremely candid in my answer, if you see what I mean. We’ve seen that in my country, including, and it’s up to the government, up to the elected authorities, up to parliament, to deliver the proper answers. This is the best answer to your question. You know, we have to deliver. One minute, maybe two?

FREDERICK KEMPE: We have a little bit of an extension here.

But, Minister di Maio, maybe you can look at your own country. Each of these countries is different in its domestic politics. We have some small elections coming up in November in the United States. You know, rising energy prices are going to have—and inflation are going to have an impact on that. Managing this at the same time that you’re managing a contest against a despot, Putin, is not the simplest thing in a democracy. How do you see that playing out? Do we have the staying power for this?

LUIGI DI MAIO: I think that our citizens know very well what is the importance to stay in an alliance like NATO and an institution like European Union. Our alliances, our values are a very important pillar of their security, and people want security. They are asking us more security, and for this reason, I think that we have to continue with the matter of today. Today we increased the number of member states in this alliance and we gave a clear answer to Putin. And the—I think is the opposite expectation of Putin. So I think that we have to continue on this path, and at the same time, we have to keep our unity in supporting Ukraine militarily, financially, and on the humanitarian side. And on the domestic side, we have to continue to promote some initiatives like—I mentioned the price cap. But even economic initiatives that can support our companies, our industrial sector, our families in order to face the impact of this war that is a global war on the market side if we see the price of energy, food, fertilizers, and others.

FREDERICK KEMPE: So, Minister Linde, how is this playing in domestic politics in Sweden? You have a trifecta of issues coming into NATO. I’m sure that there’s some differences in politics in Sweden about that. You have the inflation and the economic slowdown that everyone is facing, so that has some impact as well. And you have the threat of Putin and how to address Putin. How does this stew of issues work its way through Swedish domestic politics?

ANN LINDE: Well, I would rather answer the question that the young lady had about—

FREDERICK KEMPE: The one thing I always coach people on is when I ask a question you can say, well, that’s a brilliant question but I’d like to answer something entirely different. Go ahead.

ANN LINDE: Yes, because when it comes to democracy, it’s so clear that this is—it is a threat to authoritarian state. As late as yesterday, our embassy in Moscow was called up to the foreign affairs minister in Moscow saying that we immediately had to stop all the support we are giving to civil society, for democracy promotion, our Swedish Institute, our Development Cooperation Agency. We have roughly $40 million in this kind of support and if we continue then it will be—consequences. So that has to stop immediately. And it shows, of course, that it has an effect that they don’t want.

And since 2019 we have a Drive for Democracy in our Foreign Ministry, meaning that we have in all our embassies all over the world we have democracy talks, we have more than ten thousand people has taken part as civil right defenders, is LGBTI persons, is feminists, is all these—that how can we promote democracy in the different countries? And we have seen that it’s not just a value; it’s also something that creates good things. So now, since a week back, we have started something we call case for democracy. We take hard facts from IDI, International Democracy Institute, that is placed in Stockholm, international organization, from V-Dem, which is an absolutely fascinating university, part of Gothenburg University, where you have fact on everything about democracy. And we say, case for democracy to security, case for democracy to equality, case for democracy for development, and then we can show facts that democracies are more stable, democracy are more peaceful, democracy are more sustainable. So we make a case for democracy, and now we are trying to get those information out so it’s not just, you know, some “we like democracy;” it’s hard facts. We need to use it, because we need to defend democracy much more vigilant than we have done before.

FREDERICK KEMPE: That’s a powerful answer. Thank you very much.

I’m checking. I think I can ask one more question if you have time for one more question, all three of you.

LUIGI DI MAIO: I don’t know.

FREDERICK KEMPE: I’m looking for—

CATHERINE COLONNA: We are resisting, maybe.

FREDERICK KEMPE: I’m looking for my instructions because we’re waiting for—we’re waiting for our next panel. Let make this the last question. It’s an interesting one and it’s come from our global audience, and it’s to all three: In a recent interview, the Spanish foreign minister said that this is a historic summit on a par with Yalta Summit—God help us—or the fall of the Berlin wall—hopefully. Can you—can you each comment on that at whatever brief length you’d like to? And maybe we’ll start here with France and Italy and then Sweden. And then we’ll close the session.

CATHERINE COLONNA: History will tell. We did our best. There are huge steps to do, but we’ll see.

FREDERICK KEMPE: And if there’s one thing you think this summit will be remembered for, what would it be? That. OK.

CATHERINE COLONNA: Unity, unity, unity, determination, values, strengths.


LUIGI DI MAIO: Of course.


LUIGI DI MAIO: Well, the application—the provision of the application of Sweden and Finland. And second, the strategic concept that is another important step. And if we remember only one month ago how was the debate about Finland and Sweden, we were not optimistic, no? I remember a dinner in Berlin of NATO countries, and it was a very difficult dinner about Sweden and Finland and the requests of Sweden and Finland. Now, today, we have a good end—a good end about strategic concept, a good end about the destiny and the enlargement to Finland and Sweden. So it’s an historical event and we will continue in this direction in order to have other meetings and other important summits like this summit.

FREDERICK KEMPE: Minister Linde, I trust you think this is a historic event. But put it on a scale of what we’ve gone through in the past. And for me, I think if there’s one thing we’ve learned in the last two days is there’s one thing you can do on paper, but what we’ve learned in Ukraine is it’s all about execution. And that’s to your answer time will tell. But I’d love to hear your answer and then we’ll close the panel here.

ANN LINDE: No, of course—that all thirty countries at today’s summit have welcome Sweden and Finland to become members of NATO, of course that is historic. And then it will be remember also for the new strategic concept, not the least for the Chinese—the discussion on China, which is in a quite new way. And I think that will be seen as a turning point also for the way forward for NATO.

FREDERICK KEMPE: Thank you. Excellent answer. Terrific panel.

Before you applaud the panelists and before I turn over to Michel Martin from—the weekend host of “All Things Considered” and “Consider This,” National Public Radio—if you’re American, you know exactly what we’re talking about and you probably know way beyond there as well. It will be a terrific panel with the secretary of state of the United States, the minister of foreign affairs of Spain, so stay in your seats and stay close to your seats. But I want to thank our partners—Elcano for your masterful leadership in all of this, and GMF, and Munich Security Conference, Atlantic Council team is here, and all our friends at NATO. This has just been a terrific, terrific experience. Thank you so much.

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Image: Speakers attend the NATO Public Forum on June 29, 2022 in Madrid.