Building a Stronger Transatlantic Community: That's Diplomacy

Posted by Kurt Volker
March 5, 2009
NATO Roundtable

Interactive Travel Map | Text the SecretaryAbout the Author: Kurt Volker serves as U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO.

Meetings at NATO can look like a series of speeches at the table by foreign ministers. With the Secretary General and 28 countries at the table, if each one speaks only once for five minutes, it can take nearly 2 ½ hours to discuss one subject. And the reality can be even longer. But that is just one layer of the event. Another is the work going on around the margins of the room and in the corridors, as senior officials hammer out deals on behalf of their governments.

At one point, working through a particularly difficult issue, some 20 senior diplomats from as many countries were crammed into the ante-room off the main conference room trying out wording to chart a way forward, necks craned to look at one piece of paper in the center of the pod. When they failed to reach a conclusion, they flooded into the main room, as one group, making a great ruckus. The Secretary General then convened ministers-only to negotiate directly – the foreign ministers themselves doing the hard work of diplomacy. Some 200 senior officials milled about in the hallway trying to think up ideas.

In the end, the ministers broke for lunch, wording was formulated, and after agreement was reached, the Secretary General delivered the news to the media.

Another step forward for NATO. A better policy for having been debated. And another example of the United States and European allies working brick by brick to rebuild a stronger, more unified transatlantic community. That’s diplomacy.

Read Ambassador Volker's previous entry about the Secretary's NATO meeting.



Srian P.
March 5, 2009

SNP in Syria writes:

Conspiring to bring the New World Order. Now, after the Crussading West managed the theft of resources and cash from the oil producing and lesser developed countries, it is time to plot the next move. They all dried clean. What is next, drop the DOW to 4000 so the New World Order Leaders can buy it and the world markets from pocket change, own it all back like they did all the financial companies at taxpayer expense. It did not take a lot of intelligence to plan that, more like it is a copy cat of an older trick played in Napoleon time in London. But you know, it is kinda of risky to push forward, I mean what if there are others who plotted to throw in a monkey wrench into all that in the middle of it all and hell break loose.

Connecticut, USA
March 5, 2009

Kenadid in Connecticut writes:

Keep-up the good work and we are proud of you guys. Certainly far better team than Last admin's.

Connecticut, USA
March 5, 2009

Terry in Connecticut writes:

Trying to pick out Secretary Clinton in the photo.

March 6, 2009

John in Greece writes:

@ Terry in Connecticut -- According to my opinion, the selected photos you are referring to are PERFECT! Intellectually chosen, with an image atmosphere that offers a platform for further thinking of the issues.

What I mean is that these photographs energize a sharp brain to think of the complexity and the difficulties of such tough diplomatic actions. At least, this is the way these two photos "talk" to me.
I suspect a little irony in your comments, concerning the lack of Mrs. Clinton's image in a more "exhibited" way. She does not need this. We all love her and she is already successful, regardless her photo presence or not! After all she is the one who runs the "brain show." And this is the important factor: brain, not publicity.
More scientifically, concerning communications, sometimes "less is more" and -- far more constructive!

I hope that I did not misunderstand your comments, but on the same basis of yours, someone else could anti-comment that this block should change its name from DipNote to Clinton' But, I am sure that this is something that Madame Secretary neither needs, nor desires to do so.

Again, I apologize if I misunderstood you.
Best Regards Terry!

P.S. @ DipNote staff: Great job guys!

California, USA
March 6, 2009

Wendy in California writes:

How do ministers deal with translation in the informal settings? Ia there a lingua franca?

What is the ratio of woman ministers to men ministers in NATO?

Presumably the five minute rule keeps some fairness in the larger meetings. Do bombasts dominate in the informal settings or are diplomats actually diplomatic?

Virginia, USA
March 7, 2009

Rhiannon in Virginia writes:

I love reading these insights into the dipworld. Sounds like my Toastmasters club is good training since we do mostly 5 minute speeches. Thankfully, there are a lot less of us.

New Mexico, USA
March 7, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

SNP, "A new world"...depends on what side of the bed you wake up on in the morning..."Order"?...let me know when you find some in this chaotic cluster---- of too many chiefs, not enough indians.

I'm sure folks won't have a problem translating my meaning.

What's amazing is that consensus building in this democratic manner actually is successfull in large part in addressing common challenges.

At a round table, no one sits above or below the salt, thus the landscape of negotiaton is a level playing field.

I trust Ambassador Volker will seek to make sure "consensus" does not eqate with "lowered expectations", nor arrive thereby with "lowest common denominator" results.

For that is why so many crisis and issues remain unresolved for decades.


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