The UCLA Center for Middle East Development hosted the webinar, "NATO Unclassified: An Inside Story," on December 10, 2020.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a political and military alliance of 30 European and North American countries committed to the principle of collective defense and fostering the Transatlantic Link. Join CMED for a behind-the-scenes discussion about the present role of NATO partnerships in the MENA region. Our panel discussed security challenges, the Mediterranean Dialogue, the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, and the regional perception of this important organization. The program included a presentation by NATO official, Mr. Giovanni Romani, followed by brief remarks from commentators, Mr. Khalid Benhamou and Mr. Tommy Steiner. It ended with an audience question and answer session, moderated by former Czech Ambassador, Tomáš Pojar.
PRESENTER— Mr. Giovanni Romani is currently Head of the NATO Middle East and North Africa Section at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels. He is a former Italian Navy officer, in active duty from 1985 to 2006. He served as a combat operations electronic warfare and intelligence officer on several Italian and US ships, also taking part in the “Sharp Fence” and “Sharp Guard” operations in waters adjoining the Former Republic of Yugoslavia. In March 2006, Mr. Romani was appointed Head of NATO’s Naval Armament Unit. From April 2012 to December 2017, he led the Land and Maritime Capabilities Section within the NATO Defence Investment Division. He speaks Italian, English, Spanish, and French.
MODERATOR— Ambassador Tomáš Pojar is Vice President for International Relations of the Prague-based CEVRO Institute and a defense, security, and foreign affairs consultant. From 2010 until 2014 Tomáš Pojar served as Ambassador of the Czech Republic to the State of Israel. Prior to his posting, he served as the First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for security affairs, EU affairs, and bilateral relations with European states, as well as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Bilateral Relations. Ambassador Pojar joined the Czech Foreign Service in 2005 after he had been working as an executive director of the People in Need Czech TV Foundation.
COMMENTATOR— Mr. Khalid Benhamou is the current CEO of Sahara Wind. Reporting to Morocco’s head of state on the tremendous potential of the Atlantic trade winds blowing over the Sahara coastline, he installed the region’s first wind turbine in 1995. He founded the Sahara Wind-HVDC multi Giga-Watt transmission project bridging Africa to Europe in 2002. Together with public grid operator ONEE, he submitted this 5GW-HVDC project to the United Nations Development Programme, Global Environment Facility, and World Bank for funding in 2005. With co-funding from NATO, Khalid commissioned Africa’s first wind-hydrogen systems at partnering universities in Morocco and Mauritania in 2011.
COMMENTATOR— Mr. Tommy Steiner is an associate fellow at the Henry Jackson Society and a policy consultant at Sino-Israel Global Network & Academic Leadership (SIGNAL). Previously, he was a senior research fellow at the Institute for Policy and Strategy, IDC Herzliya, where he worked on various policy research projects focusing mainly on Israel's foreign relations. A member of the founding team of the Herzliya Conference Series, Mr. Steiner managed the Conference from 2007 through 2013. Concurrently, he taught international relations at IDC's Lauder School. He also served as the executive director of the Atlantic Forum of Israel.