Former NATO Sec-Gen defends its role on 'Talking Foreign Affairs'

Adil Cader of ‘Talking Foreign Affairs’ (right) with Former NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer

NATO’s role in the contemporary world was one of the key topics discussed by Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, former NATO Secretary-General, in his interview on ‘Talking Foreign Affairs’ with Adil Cader.

The two further discuss the possibility of a similar institution in the Indo-Pacific. Mr. Scheffer also reflects upon the foreign policy of the Netherlands. Discussing NATO’s future and significance in global affairs, Scheffer remarks, “NATO is as relevant as it has ever been, for scenarios that we’d not like to imagine, which are not probable. But still, it is the unique alliance where the US provides the nuclear guarantee.” He expresses his confidence in the American leadership for NATO and restoring the essential transatlantic bonds.

The host Adil Cader then brings up a question on NATO’s 75 precent reliance on the United States, and if in the future, we could see another country that the treaty organization becomes too reliant on. The former NATO Secretary-General responds that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in its present form will not change and will continue to rely on the United States. Mr. Scheffer adds that “politically and in the domain of security, the US will remain the main point of reference for Europe. That will not be China or Russia”. On the other hand, he suggests that Europe and the EU in particular should become much more serious about its own defence and the ability to project military power.

Mr. Scheffer then moves forward to recounting his time as a Dutch Foreign Minister. “The demands on the budget for social affairs, education and infrastructure are so enormous and the threat perception with people is so low that when a Minister of Defence or Foreign Affairs will ask for more funds, the result is almost always not in favour.” The two further talk about non-traditional security issues such as cybersecurity, disinformation, election meddling, and if NATO should deal with these concerns. He recalls his time as the Secretary General and when he tried to introduce the issue of cybersecurity on the table. Mr. Jaap de Hoop Scheffer concludes by discussing the changes and challenges to diplomacy in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“NATO is as relevant as it has ever been, for scenarios that we’d not like to imagine.”

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer was Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands from 2002 to 2003, he then served as NATO Secretary-General between 2004 and 2009. He currently is a Professor Emeritus at Leiden University.

‘Talking Foreign Affairs’ seeks to educate young people on key international issues and analyse key themes of foreign policy and current global affairs. Their offerings include hosting panels, addressing conferences, carrying out research and publishing.