By John Jacobs
65th NATO Parlementary Assembly kicks off in London with a focus on engaging with youth. NATO PA president Madelein Moon addressed journalists this morning to debrief the agenda of the 65th annual session, taking place in London between 11th and 14th of October.
As president of NATO PA she goes out of her way to speak with youth groups at any formal visit she does abroad. These may include university groups, young people interested in parliamentarian careers or schools visiting parliament - like is also happening today in London.
It is important to keep on educating the next generation on democracy and transatlantic values. "Take the demonstrations [against NATO] outside as an example, how would they fare in Moscow or Beijing?" President Moon gives as an example. The right to demonstrate, and the rule of law that protects civilians from doing so is often taken for granted. "I recently visited Georgia", Moon continues, "there I spoke with someone who felt that parliamentarians was not good enough, not fast enough, "welcome to democracy, I replied". President Moon cited Churchill's "Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." to illustrate. She continued "democracy is not just about politics, but also about citizens and citizenship". Another effort she does as member of parliament is to visit high schools every Friday morning [or today have schools visit her]. "You journalist are amateurs, high schoolers ask the questions everyone else is to polite to ask - a class of high schoolers is killing" she amusingly remarked.
Secretary General David Hobbs chips in remarking the effort NATO PA does institutionally. For the past few NATO PA has hosted a working group on Education and Communication about NATO, investigating how NATO member states include NATO in their education curriculum. "NATO itself cannot have direct influence in the national education agenda, but parliamentarians can". The working group gathers best practices of countries that include transatlanticism in the high school curriculum well, and shares this with countries that do not do so (yet).