The Youth Atlantic Treaty Association and Its Role in Promoting Euro-Atlantic Values
The Youth Atlantic Treaty Association (YATA) is a network of young professionals and academics who are interested in international security policies. YATA consists of 36 member organizations or so-called National Chapters, all of which are the youth wings of established NGOs in their respective countries. These NGOs act as the national chapters of YATA’s parent organization, the Atlantic Treaty Association (ATA). YATA’s vision is to be the leading youth network to foster the values of democracy, rule of law, liberty, peace and security, and reinforce the transatlantic link.
The organization strives to draw together the young leaders of today and tomorrow and we see it as our mission to bridge the gap between the policy level and civil society. It seeks to educate and promote cooperation among youth in NATO Allied and Partner countries, in an effort to create responsible future leaders who have an understanding of and are committed to the values in the North Atlantic Treaty.
We focus on dynamic youth engagement and transatlantic cooperation in areas of international security and defence through:
- the enhancement of debate and education within the general population;
- the engagement and development of youth to be active participants as well as responsible decision and opinion makers in the constantly changing security environment;
- and the strengthening of youth visibility and influence through the facilitation of network building between policy makers and civil society.
YATA remains instrumental in aligning values from both sides of the Atlantic and generally promoting international cooperation and dialogue. We act as a forum for debate in which member associations can realize common interests and democratic goals in the security environment of the 21st century.
YATA was formed in 1996 during the Atlantic Treaty Association’s General Assembly held in Rome. Its formation was the natural progression of meetings, conferences and seminars organized by youth groups that exist in nearly all ATA member organizations. The Danish Atlantic Treaty Association was one of the pioneers in this respect, organizing since 1985 an annual conference by the name of Danish Atlantic Youth Seminar (DAYS), that has attracted many young people interested in Atlantic security and international relations.
YATA Romania and beyond
The ATA/YATA Network is represented in Romania by the Euro-Atlantic Council of Romania. In the past, YATA Romania has promoted transatlanticism through their Young Ambassador’s network, and next year it will host its first Summer School following in line with other flagship projects in our network such as DAYS (Danish Atlantic Youth Seminar), PAYS (Portugal Atlantic Youth Seminar) and Balkan SAYS (Balkan Security Architecture Youth Seminar). The latter is hosted by YATA Slovenia and focusses on security questions in the Balkan area. The event, this year being hosted as the 5th edition, is unique in the sense that it brings together young people from a post-conflict region that otherwise would rarely speak with one another.
While the Western Balkans is continuously coming closer to higher levels of cooperation and integration in the Euro-Atlantic region, some of the most fundamental security and structural questions remain unsolved. Parts of the Western Balkan region remain highly unstable, nationalism and extremism are once again gaining momentum, there is still a lack of true reconciliation and the peace building process is still to be concluded. While indeed we can observe commendable steps forward, towards a more prosperous future of the region, highly supported by international community and international organisations working in the region, many open questions remain unsolved. The lasting historic grievances and disputes of the region have most recently showcased due to the increased pressure of the migration crises in Europe.
The 5th edition of Balkan SAYS will bring together youth from Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo, as well as youth from the greater Balkan region or other young professionals with a keen interest in the region.
Aside from the focus on the Balkan or YATA activities in Romania, YATA is strongly engaged with youth in surrounding countries. For example, in Bulgaria, which hosts an annual summer school – this year discussing security challenges in the Black Sea region. Or in Hungary, where the transatlantic values are currently under pressure, YATA Hungary stays engaged and provides a forum for discussions. Finally, in Ukraine, a country currently at war to defend its values, YATA is represented by its partner the NATO-Ukraine Professional Development Programme and the Youth Centre of the Atlantic Council in Ukraine, which in the near future will be recognized as the YATA representation in Ukraine.