The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) hosted former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Latvian President Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga for a conversation on the current state of transatlantic relations on Wednesday, September 30, 2015. GMF President Karen Donfried moderated the discussion that touched on challenges regarding Russia, Ukraine, security in the Baltics, the on-going migration crisis, and NATO’s next steps in the region.
The conversation began by considering claims that the U.S. no longer cares about Europe given its ‘pivot to Asia.’ Albright stressed that while the transatlantic relationship is not perfect, and there is, at times, disappointment, it is “the most important relationship that exists.” Although the U.S. is both an Atlantic and Pacific power, she indicated that rebalance does not equate to a lack of interest in Europe. Vīķe-Freiberga echoed a similar sentiment, stating that partnerships require investment, and the “transatlantic relationship is one that deserves, and needs, to be continuously cultivated on both sides.”
While Vīķe-Freiberga expressed her belief that Europe is not doing enough in terms of security, Donfried asked what course of action is the right one in order to achieve security in Europe. Vīķe-Freiberga indicated that following the end of the Cold War, there was a perceived lack of the need for security, but Europe has now woken up. While working together is still a challenge, she stressed that we must rely on our partners across the Atlantic to confront the challenges facing the transatlantic relationship. Albright agreed, highlighting that more must be done to help Ukraine as “we owe it to them and to all of us who believe in a Europe whole and free.”