Launching the New Atlantic Initiative
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  • How to reviving the North Atlantic alliance and of integrating the new democracies of Central and Eastern Europe into Western institutions?

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More than 300 senior American and European diplomats, statesmen, and foreign policy experts met at AEI's Congress of Prague May 10-12 to discuss ways of reviving the North Atlantic alliance and of integrating the new democracies of Central and Eastern Europe into Western political, economic, and security institutions. Participants included Vá Havel, president of the Czech Republic; Vá Klaus, prime minister of the Czech Republic; Lady Margaret Thatcher, former British prime minister; Senator Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.); and several AEI scholars and trustees.

"We in the West won a great victory in the cold war," Lady Thatcher noted in her keynote address. "Let us not now forget why we fought. The mission of this Congress is to recapture that sense of purpose and clothe it with practical action."

One common theme of the panel discussions was the need to counter the new moods of isolationism in the United States and introspection on the European continent. Another theme was a growing awareness that serious problems have outlived the initial euphoria at the end of the cold war. Chief among these are continued instability in Russia, the return to power of former Communists in many Central European countries, and the growth of unemployment, racial tensions, and political extremism in Western Europe and of economic insecurity in the United States.

"The link between America and Europe--political, economic, and moral--cannot be broken except at grave peril to both," according to the Declaration of Prague on Atlantic Principles, which was signed by conference participants on May 12. It also reads in part: "In economic life, our common civilization will be more durable if it rests on common foundations. A Transatlantic Free Trade Area, obeying the rules of international trade but solidifying the partnership of Europe and America, must become an urgent objective of Atlantic politics."

"In political life, all good things ultimately rest upon our willingness to defend them....The NATO Alliance is today the expression of Atlantic partnership and the guarantor of our common security. Central Europe's admission to it is another imperative."

The Congress of Prague also marked the launching of the New Atlantic Initiative, a network of policy institutes and individuals founded by John O'Sullivan, editor of National Review. Edward Streator, former U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, is the chairman; Mr. O'Sullivan and Christopher DeMuth, AEI president, are cochairmen; Jeffrey Gedmin, AEI research fellow, is the executive director.

The new project, based in AEI's Washington offices, will continue the work begun in Prague through such activities as a major annual conference alternating between Europe and the United States, smaller working seminars in Washington, commissioned research, and publications. Papers and proceedings from the Congress of Prague will be published by the AEI Press this fall.

Mr. Gedmin will summarize the accomplishments of the Congress of Prague and will announce the launch of the New Atlantic Initiative at a briefing hosted by Senators Kyl and Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) on July 11 in the Russell Senate Office Building.

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