Emil Constantinescu, President of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization, participated on Friday, January 17th, 2020 at the opening of the 6th edition of Model NATO Conference. The event is a simulation of NATO summits and takes place in Bucharest, every year in January.
The Model NATO Conference is a project destined for Romanian and foreign highschool students, which simulate thus the activity of various committees of the North-Atlantic Organization, focusing on current topics of interest. Throughout the debates and the interactions within the working committees, participants become familiar with specific NATO concepts and instruments, while developing their public speaking skills and English fluency.
The event took place between January 17th-20th, 2020. This year’s edition was coordinated by Ana Maria Radu, Executive Director and graduate of the International Computer High-School of Bucharest and Răzvan Turcu, General Manager, junior student at the Lauder-Reut Educational Complex, and reunited approximately 150 students from Romania and abroad. The sixth edition focused on two major topics – ”The future of the NATO mandate in Kosovo” and ”Future relations between NATO and the European Union”.
The first edition of the Model NATO Conference took place in 2015, and was established by two former students from the International Computer High-School of Bucharest – Ana Georgescu and Maria Nicolae. At present, Ana Georgescu is a student at Harvard University, while Maria Nicolae is studying at King’s College.
The role of such a conference is to raise awareness among the young generation on matters of politics and diplomacy. Conferences simulating NATO activities take place all over the world, all throughout the year, either on a highschool, or university level. They are meant to connect young people to pressing matters of the international community, and educate them towards further involving and producing change within the community. Furthermore, participating in such events enhances one’s abilities of cooperation and leadership, teamwork, as well as improving their debate and rhetorical skills.
The Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization supports such an initiative due to the fact that one of its long-term projects concerns ” Cultural diplomacy and 21st century challenges”. A sub-part of this project concerns the development of ” Cultural Diplomacy through Civic Education”. Such a simulation of NATO working processes and bodies represents not just a test of knowledge and capacity to document NATO issues, but also a sample of diplomacy in action, due to interactions between participants and the manner of debates and negotiations.
President Emil Constantinescu participated in the opening session of the event at the Atelier Hall of the National Theatre as a former Head of State, who worked actively towards preparing Romania for its accession in the North-Atlantic Organization, especially by improving army levels of equipment, to be able to embrace NATO requirements. In 1994, Romania joined the Partnership for Peace. At the time, the Army was insufficiently prepared and equipped. Thus, President Constantinescu’s task was a difficult one, given that the country’s accession to NATO was done firstly through the military and the intelligence structures. It was also during his mandate that the Romania-US Strategic Partnership was signed, which facilitated to a great extent the country’s accession to NATO.
When asked by the participants to elaborate on the qualities of a political leader, President Constantinescu replied that one should have ”vision, strategy, persuasion, courage, discretion, but also culture. Someone who works in foreign policy, should also be preoccupied by his/her culture, as foreign policy management requires a wide culture. As a result, in the framework of the Institute I run in Bucharest, I encourage the development of cultural diplomacy, including through civic education activities as the present one”.
NATO is not just a collective defense organization, but also a forum reuniting various elements of organizational culture through the states represented within. Negotiations are most commonly samples of cultural diplomacy, as NATO state diplomats’ resort to elements of national and international culture to find means of dialogue.
The IASLCC supports such a project as it considers that young people should be educated in the spirit of peace and must understand the fact that beyond hard power instruments there are also soft power ones which can be used in order to reach peace and facilitate a dialogue for the understanding of the other. The young generation needs to have access to such civic education, meant to highlight their rights and responsibilities within the international community. The present project capitalizes on young people’s interest on foreign affairs, offering them access to a culture of peace and dialogue, in which co-existence and the understanding of the other represent key elements for societal development.