North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)

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North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)

NATO 2000

The fifth decade of the Alliance's history was witness to the most far-reaching and significant changes in the political landscape of Europe since the Second World War. The changes brought in their wake new challenges and difficulties and brought to the surface many long-standing regional and ethnic antagonisms and conflicts. However they also gave birth to new opportunities for re-establishing normal international relations between countries separated by artificial divisions for nearly fifty years.

At the political, economic, social, cultural and human level, the peoples of Europe witnessed the fall of previously impenetrable barriers and the disappearance of long-held prejudices. They have been brought together once again as neighbours sharing a continent, with joint concerns for their environment and its resources and a rich heritage of national and regional characteristics to share with each other.The same changes brought with them chances to improve security throughout the continent. They have enabled NATO countries to realise many of their long-standing objectives and to channel their energies and experience into positive cooperation in the interests of Europe as a whole.

How NATO has seized these opportunities and pioneered new forms of international cooperation in the security field is the story we now tell. The developments of the 1990s have combined to create a new environment - one in which the goal of creating a just and lasting peaceful order in Europe is once again a realistic and viable political objective. The steps which are being taken to attain it are inter-related and interdependent. They do not follow a strict chronological pattern and are subject to rapid advances or setbacks just like any other developments in world affairs. These are the building blocks of Europe's future security.

They are examined individually in NATO 2000.



When the Berlin wall came down in November 1989, and democratic revolutions spread across Central Europe, many wondered if NATO, too, should be swept away by the breathtaking winds of change. NATO member countries had already been working hard to improve security relations in Europe, largely through negotiating arms control and confidence-building measures with the Soviet Union and other countries in Central and Eastern Europe.

Now, the authoritarian regimes that had held the Warsaw Pact together were disappearing and the Warsaw Pact itself was on its way out. The Bonn government of the Federal Republic and the post-communist East German authorities began negotiating the unification of Germany under the watchful eyes of the Soviet Union, the United States, France and the United Kingdom - the four powers responsible for the administration of Germany in the immediate post-war years, and for the administration of the divided city of Berlin from 1945 to 1989. A new Europe was on the horizon.

In this heady atmosphere, many analysts and officials questioned what NATO’s place might be in a world in which the Warsaw Pact had crumbled, the Soviet Union was withdrawing its forces from Eastern Europe and new leaders of former Warsaw Pact nations were already speculating out loud about joining NATO. In February 1990, Hungarian Foreign Minister Guyla Horn said he could imagine that, in a few years, Hungary could become a member of NATO.

Nine years later his words became reality. Hungary, along with the Czech Republic and Poland, acceded to the NATO Treaty, individual partnerships had been set up between NATO and many other countries including all the members of the former Warsaw Pact. A multilateral forum - known as the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council - had also been established for developing cooperation between the Partner countries and the 19 NATO countries. The story of how these developments came about is a fascinating one - but we are jumping ahead. Back to the beginning of the decade.

Early in 1990, a variety of different concepts for the future organisation of European security competed for official and public approval. Few of them envisaged NATO membership for former member countries of the Warsaw Pact. Some experts speculated that it might be best to keep the Warsaw Pact in business in order to facilitate the organisation of Europe’s security. Others argued that NATO had outlived its usefulness because there was no longer any direct military threat.

They believed that the Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), to which all European states as well as the United States and Canada belonged, could take over responsibility for maintaining peace and security on the continent.

In this turbulent setting, the leaders of NATO countries addressed the question of whether or not NATO was needed. Instinctively, all the leaders of the time believed that NATO should be preserved.

Some argued that NATO was not only a political and military Alliance, but that it represented a community of values linking North American and European democracies. Its role was therefore much more than just a defence against military threats. Others saw NATO as an “insurance policy” against future threats. Others pointed to new risks and uncertainties which could only be met by cooperation between countries to enable them to handle their common security problems jointly – and declared that NATO provided the necessary and the only suitable structure for such cooperation. Meeting in London in July 1990, less than nine months after the Berlin Wall had come down, the Heads of NATO Governments issued the “London Declaration on a Transformed North Atlantic Alliance,” announcing a “major transformation” of NATO. They recognised that everyone’s security was inseparably linked to the security of their neighbours and offered both friendship and cooperation to their former adversaries.

They also agreed that NATO should review its military structures and its nuclear and non-nuclear strategy in order to bring these up to date. They set in process a major overhaul of Alliance strategy, aimed at producing a new “Strategic Concept” for the Alliance in the course of 1991. With this decision, NATO began the process of adapting itself to the post-Cold War world.


Since 1949, NATO has always had an agreed “strategy” to guide its policies and force structures. These strategy documents, however, had always been classified, secret texts available to the public only in summary form. After the end of the Cold War, it was recognised that times had changed. So, following the London Summit meeting in July 1990, when NATO leaders called for a new strategic concept to be prepared, it was decided that it should be published.

The 1991 concept acknowledged the radical changes that had recently occurred in the world and in Europe in particular.

The Soviet Union still existed and still had powerful nuclear and non-nuclear military forces, but virtually everything else had changed.

Democratic governments were emerging across Central and Eastern Europe; the terms on which Germany would be unified had been negotiated; the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe had been signed; the Warsaw Pact had been disbanded; a coup against the reforming Soviet leader Gorbachev had been defeated, and governments in Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia had expressed their wish to be included in NATO activities.

The 1991 concept stated that NATO’s policies and forces should be adapted in the light of these remarkable changes. But the Allies also reaffirmed some elements of continuity. NATO’s fundamental purpose, they declared, was to defend its members against attack. NATO’s integrated command structure and cooperative approach to defence remained essential to the interests of the members. The transatlantic link between Europe and the United States and Canada remained vital to NATO’s future relevance. Defence of democracy, human rights and the rule of law still constituted the heart and soul of the Alliance. However Allied leaders noted that, even with all the positive changes, the world remained a dangerous place. NATO would be essential to deal with continuing risks and uncertainties. Moreover the North Atlantic Treaty, in addition to providing for collective defence, included a mandate to consult together to deal with threats to the security interests of the members, not just an attack on one of them.

At the 1991 Summit Meeting in Rome, the Allies established three areas of particular emphasis for future NATO policies. First, as part of a broader approach to security, they would actively seek cooperation and dialogue with all European states, and particularly with the former Warsaw Pact countries. Second, NATO’s nuclear and non-nuclear military forces would be reduced, and the remaining forces would be restructured to take into account the need for forces able to handle crisis management tasks (like the ones that later developed in the Balkans, in the wake of the conflicts in Bosnia-Herzegovina and in Kosovo) as well as collective defence. Third, European members of NATO would assume greater responsibility for their own security. These concepts were the inspiration behind NATO initiatives throughout the 1990s. The Allies dramatically reduced and streamlined both their forces and NATO’s command structure. More emphasis was placed on the ability to deploy military forces beyond NATO borders in response to new security challenges. Several initiatives translated the Alliance’s goal of promoting dialogue and cooperation into practical measures - the creation of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council and it successor, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council; the introduction of the Partnership for Peace; the establishment of the Permanent Joint Council with Russia; the development of a new partnership with Ukraine; and the open door policy on NATO enlargement.

Simultaneously, steps were taken to make provision for increased roles and responsibilities in the Alliance for the European Allies, in order to strengthen the European Security and Defence Identity. The 1991 Strategic Concept served its purpose well, guiding NATO from the Cold War towards a new and better European security environment. However, as the end of the decade approached, the need for further change became clear.

At the Washington Summit in April 1999, the NATO Allies approved a revised Strategic Concept to equip the Alliance for the security challenges and opportunities of the 21st century and to guide its future political and military development.

The 1999 Strategic Concept provides overall guidance for the development of detailed policies and military plans. It describes the Purpose and Tasks of the Alliance and examines its Strategic Perspectives in the light of the evolving strategic environment and of new security challenges and risks. Setting out the Alliance's Approach to Security in the 21st Century, the Concept reaffirms the importance of the transatlantic link and of maintaining the Alliance's military capabilities and examines the role of other key elements in the Alliance's broad approach to stability and security, including the European Security and Defence Identity; conflict prevention and crisis management mechanisms; partnership, cooperation and dialogue; NATO enlargement; and arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation.

Finally, the Concept gives Guidelines for the Alliance's Forces based on the principles of Alliance strategy and the characteristics of the military forces available to the Alliance. This includes sections addressing the missions of allied military forces and guidelines for their organisation, as well as the characteristics of conventional and nuclear forces.

The revised Strategic Concept, like its predecessor published in 1991, is the authoritative statement of the Alliance’s objectives. It provides the highest level political guidance on the means to be used in achieving them.

Historical Note

The initial formulation of NATO strategy was known as " The Strategic Concept for the Defence of the North Atlantic Area ". Developed between October 1949 and April 1950, it set out a strategy of large-scale operations for territorial defence. In the mid-1950s the strategy of "massive retaliation " was developed.

It emphasised deterrence based on the threat that NATO would respond to any aggression against its member countries by every means at its disposal, specifically including nuclear weapons.

Discussions of possible changes in this strategic approach and the need for other options began later in the 1950s and continued until 1967 when, following intensive debate within the Alliance, "massive retaliation" was replaced by the strategy of "flexible response". This concentrated on giving NATO the advantages of flexibility and of creating uncertainty in the minds of any potential aggressor about NATO's response in the case of a threat to the sovereignty or independence of any single member country. The concept was designed to ensure that aggression of any kind would be perceived as involving unacceptable risks.

The above strategies were enshrined in classified documents, which provided guidance to national governments and points of reference for military planning activities. They were not addressed to the general public. Although the underlying concepts were well known, little public discussion about their details was possible because their effectiveness depended greatly on secrecy. They reflected the realities of the Cold War, the political division of Europe and the confrontational ideological and military situation which characterised East-West relations for many years.

As the Cold War continued, however, the Alliance also sought to minimise the risk of confrontation and to lay the grounds for progress towards a more positive relationship with the Soviet Union and the other members of the Warsaw Pact. The Harmel Report, published in 1967, thus established defence and dialogue, including arms control, as the dual pillars of the Alliance's approach to security.

With the end of the Cold War era, the political situation in Europe and the overall military situation were transformed. A new strategic approach evolved during the two years following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. This was debated and discussed within the Alliance and resulted in the Strategic Concept issued in November 1991.

Bearing little relation to previous strategy documents, NATO's new Strategic Concept placed increased emphasis on cooperation with former adversaries. It maintained the security of its member nations as NATO’s fundamental purpose but combined this with the specific obligation to work towards improved and expanded security for Europe as a whole.

In other respects, too, the 1991 Strategic Concept differed dramatically from its predecessors: it was issued as a public document, open for discussion and comment by parliaments, security specialists, journalists and the wider public.

In 1997, NATO leaders agreed that the Concept should be re-examined and updated to reflect the changes that had taken place in Europe since its adoption, while confirming the Allies’ commitment to collective defence and the transatlantic link and ensuring that NATO strategy remained fully adapted to the challenges of the 21st century. Intensive work was undertaken throughout the Alliance, to conclude the work by the time of the Washington Summit in April 1999.

In common with all other Alliance business, the approval of the Concept required consensus on both the substance and the language of the document by all the member countries of the Alliance. In view of the prospective accession of their countries, representatives of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland were also present from the outset of the discussions.


By 1990 NATO had already established as one of its goals, reaching out to former adversaries in a process of extended security cooperation. In December 1991, the NATO Allies decided to take the process further by creating an overall framework for that cooperation. They established the North Atlantic Cooperation Council, known as the NAC-C, to distinguish it from the North Atlantic Council, or NAC, which is NATO’s key decision-making body. The goal of the NAC-C was to provide a forum in which NATO countries could meet with those of Central and Eastern Europe and with the newly independent states which emerged from the former Soviet Union, including Russia. The first meeting of the NAC-C took place on December 20, 1991, bringing the NATO Allies together with six other countries. During the course of the meeting, it was learned that the Soviet Union had ceased to exist. At the request of the ambassador of the Russian Federation, a footnote to the press release issued that day recorded the fact. Henceforth Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and all the other states which had been incorporated into the former USSR would be independent countries. In succeeding years virtually every qualified European state joined the North Atlantic Cooperation Council. Countries traditionally regarded as neutral, such as Austria, Finland, Sweden and Switzerland, became observers.

By 1997, the NAC-C counted 40 members. Whatever the arguments about NATO’s continuing relevance might have been in the West, there were few such doubts elsewhere.

Association with the Alliance through the NAC-C was perhaps the most important advantage for most participants, particularly those who had adopted policies which aimed at NATO membership. But in addition to this important political symbolism, a wide range of practical activities was carried out within the framework of the NAC-C.

Consultations were held between Foreign Ministers on political and security issues at least once a year. Ambassadors from all the NAC-C countries met on a more routine basis, at least every other month. The NATO Allies were able to demonstrate their interest in genuine cooperation. Non-NATO participating states were able to contribute to NATO’s consultative process. NATO’s Economic Committee also set up a programme of cooperation in the NAC-C framework. This focused on defence budgets and their relationship to the economy; security aspects of economic developments; and defence conversion – the process of converting what had been plants producing weapons into facilities for normal, peaceful commercial activities. The NAC-C programme also included scientific and environmental cooperation. NATO began giving scientists from NAC-C nations scholarships for study or research on topics ranging from disarmament technologies to computer networking. In addition, the NAC-C framework was used to provide information about NATO to countries that had been dominated by anti-NATO propaganda for over four decades. It helped to begin the process of educating the governments and publics of new democracies about issues such as cooperative security with which they would have to deal if they were to become active participants in the international community.

NATO’s information programmes, including publications, visits and joint seminars and conferences, all began to focus on building openness and trust between NATO countries and their new Partners. Fellowships were established for the study of democratic institutions. In support of this goal, NATO’s Defense College in Rome also initiated special programmes for participants from NAC-C states. For two-week periods, military and civilian officials from non-NATO member states began participating in the College’s activities. Other NATO training establishments followed suit.

The premise of the NAC-C was that openness and working together would overcome decades of separate development, negative propaganda and misperceptions. The process of breaking down barriers between NATO nations and former adversaries had begun. The NAC-C, succeeded in 1997 by the “Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council,” or EAPC, was one of the keystones of what has progressively become a new basis for European security.


The Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) brings together all NATO Allies with all Partner countries. There are currently 46 members.

The EAPC was established by the Foreign Ministers of NATO and Partner nations when they met in Sintra, Portugal in May 1997. The EAPC replaced the North Atlantic Cooperation Council, which was the first forum established for discussions and cooperation between NATO Allies and non-member states.

The purpose of the EAPC is to serve as the overall framework for political and security-related consultations and enhanced cooperation under the Partnership for Peace programme. This framework provides Partner countries with the opportunity to develop a direct political relationship with the Alliance. It also enables Partner governments to participate more directly in decisions relating to activities involving NATO and Partner nations.

The EAPC meets twice a year at both Foreign and Defence Ministers’ levels and on a more routine basis at the Ambassadorial level in Brussels. Initially, the EAPC took over the existing NAC-C Work Plan for Dialogue, Partnership and Cooperation, which included regular consultations on political and security-related matters. Subsequently, it adapted and enlarged the Work Plan and converted it into a more immediate two-year Action Plan, which is updated at regular intervals. The Action Plan focuses on consultation and cooperation on regional issues, arms control, international terrorism, peacekeeping, defence economic issues, civil emergency planning, and scientific and environmental issues. Consultations also address crisis management issues; nuclear, biological and chemical weapons proliferation; defence policy and strategy; security implications of economic developments; disaster preparedness; armaments cooperation; nuclear safety; civil-military coordination of air traffic management and control; and issues related to peace support operations.

The Action Plan also provides for intensified discussions of political and defence efforts against the proliferation of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and missiles; arms trafficking; control of small arms transfers; and measures to encourage the removal of land mines.

The EAPC has been an important forum for discussions among the Allies and Partner countries about the situation in the former Yugoslavia, including developments in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the crisis in Kosovo. A series of extraordinary meetings was held to keep Partners informed of the status of NATO planning and preparations for possible military options in Kosovo and to exchange views with Partners on developments.

Under the auspices of the EAPC, a Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre was created in the spring of 1998, on the basis of a Russian proposal. The Centre participated in the coordination of emergency aid for relief operations following major flooding in Ukraine and played an important role in the coordination of efforts to relieve the plight of the refugees fleeing from the repression and ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. Another example of its role was the coordination of aid for the victims of the earthquake that hit Turkey in August 1999.

Both Allies and Partners alike regard the EAPC as an important expression of NATO’s commitment to openness and cooperation and to extending the benefits of peace and stability to all European nations.


The Partnership for Peace (PfP) was launched by Allied leaders at their summit meeting in Brussels in January 1994 to promote greater stability and security throughout Europe. In the wake of the end of the Cold War, the initiative expressed NATO’s desire to reach out to all European states with an offer of close cooperation in defence and security affairs and represented a far-reaching response to the desire of growing numbers of European governments to participate in NATO’s security system.

An invitation to join the Partnership was addressed to all states participating in the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC) and other states participating in the Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) able and willing to contribute to the programme. The NACC, which was created in 1991, had already provided a forum in which such countries could discuss security issues with NATO Allies. The Partnership added a way for individual countries to tailor their relationship with NATO to meet their national needs and circumstances. These countries were at different stages of political, economic and military development, so any programme of association with NATO had to be sufficiently flexible to accommodate such diversity. Each Partner was therefore invited to identify the extent and intensity of the cooperation it wished to develop within a bilateral Partnership programme with NATO. Each individual programme focuses on defence and security-related cooperation and forges a real partnership between each Partner country and NATO in areas ranging from the purely military to cooperation in areas such as crisis management, civil emergency planning, air traffic management or armaments cooperation. Along with the invitations to join the Partnership, the Allies issued a PfP Framework Document.

This set out NATO's undertaking to consult with any active Partner country that perceived a direct threat to its territorial integrity, political independence or security. It also outlined the specific undertakings each participant would need to make in its cooperation with NATO to help fulfil the objectives of the programme as a whole. These include introducing greater transparency in national defence planning and budgeting as a way of building confidence in the peaceful intentions of all participants; promoting effective democratic control of defence forces; working towards becoming a potential contributor to NATO-led peacekeeping, search and rescue or humanitarian missions; and enhancing the ability of Partners’ military forces to operate with NATO units. PfP is a dynamic process which progressively draws NATO and Partners closer to each other and continues to evolve. The Partnership programme was enhanced in 1997, when virtually the entire range of NATO activities was opened to Partner participation, subject to the agreement of the Allies and individual Partners in each case. Partner countries have subsequently taken on a greater role in developing PfP programmes. A Partnership Coordination Cell was established in Mons, Belgium, where the headquarters of NATO’s European military command is located, to enable activities to be coordinated directly with the Supreme Allied Commander Europe and his staff. At the Washington summit in April 1999, Allied leaders paid tribute to the successful first five years of the Partnership and endorsed a scheme to make the Partnership still more effective, as well as more operational in character. Partner countries which contribute to the NATO-led peacekeeping operations in the Balkans - the Stabilisation Force (SFOR) in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Kosovo force (KFOR) - are now participating more actively in planning and overseeing the conduct of such operations. As a result of these changes, the Partnership has become an ever more important part of the evolving European security system.

Currently, 26 countries participate in the Partnership for Peace. Its biennial programme now contains more than 2,000 activities, ranging from large military exercises to small workshops. Based on practical cooperation and commitment to democratic principles, it has become an important and permanent feature of the European security architecture and is helping to expand and intensify political and military cooperation throughout Europe.

In this way, the programme helps increase stability, diminish threats to peace and build strengthened security relationships.

All members of PfP are also members of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC), which succeeded the North Atlantic Cooperation Council in 1987. Whereas the Partnership is founded on the basis of a bilateral relationship between NATO and each individual Partner country, the EAPC provides the overall, framework for multilateral cooperation between NATO and its Partner countries and serves as a forum for political dialogue.

Three of the countries which joined the Partnership since 1994 have subsequently became members of the Alliance. Some Partner countries see their participation as a road strengthening their candidature, whereas many Partners see it as a unique and important way of contributing to peace and security in Europe, without necessarily seeking eventual NATO membership. There is no automatic link between participation and future membership but it is clear that the process of enlargement would favour countries that are active Partners. Indeed, the Membership Action Plan that was launched for aspirant countries in 1999 helps tailor their Partnership activities towards meeting membership requirements. NATO ENLARGEMENT AND THE OPEN DOOR

The drafters of the North Atlantic Treaty foresaw the possibility that other European states might subsequently wish to join the Alliance. Article 10 of the Treaty therefore stated that the Allies may “by unanimous agreement, invite any other European state in a position to further the principles of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area to accede to this Treaty.”

The twelve original members were joined by Greece and Turkey in 1952, Germany in 1955 and then Spain in 1982. No further enlargement took place until 1999, when the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland acceded to the Treaty. A series of developments led up to this event. As democratic governments emerged from the shadow of communism in Eastern and Central Europe at the end of the Cold War, many of the new democracies sought membership in NATO as one of their main national policy objectives. NATO countries reacted to these overtures cautiously, offering the new democracies friendship and cooperation, but not initially membership.

At the NATO Summit Meeting in Brussels in January 1994, Alliance leaders nevertheless reaffirmed that the commitment in Article 10 would be honoured and that NATO’s door would be opened to qualified candidates. The Allies began a study in December 1994 of the “why and how” of NATO enlargement.

In September 1995, they released a “Study on NATO Enlargement”, which explained why enlargement was appropriate and how it should be approached. It also set out a road map that countries seeking membership could follow.

The Allies saw the enlargement of the Alliance as a means of supporting NATO’s broader goal of enhancing security and extending stability throughout the Euro-Atlantic area. It would underpin the process of democratisation and the establishment of market economic systems in candidate countries. They emphasised that enlargement would threaten no one, because NATO would remain a defensive Alliance whose fundamental purpose was to preserve peace and provide security to its members. With regard to the “how” of enlargement, the Allies established a framework of principles to follow. New members would assume all the rights and responsibilities of current members, and would have to accept the policies and procedures in effect at the time of their entry; no country should enter with the goal of closing the door behind it, using its position as a member to block the accession of other candidates; countries should resolve ethnic disputes or external territorial disputes before joining NATO; candidates should be able to contribute to the missions of the Alliance; and no country outside the Alliance would have the right to interfere with the process.

During 1996-97, NATO officials conducted intensified dialogues with 12 countries which had expressed an active interest in NATO membership. The candidacies of all countries were thoroughly examined from a wide range of perspectives.

At the end of this process, the NATO leaders, meeting in Madrid in July 1997, agreed that three countries – the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland – were at that point ready to move towards membership. The terms of membership were negotiated and, in the course of 1998, the proposed enlargement was approved through the legislative processes of all current NATO members and the three candidate states. By the time of the Washington Summit in April 1999, all three countries had become fully-fledged NATO members.

One of the highlights of the April 1999 Washington Summit was thus the presence, for the first time, of the Heads of State and Government of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland. They formally joined the Alliance on 12 March 1999, bringing the number of member countries to 19. A number of measures were successfully completed by each of the new members prior to accession, in order to ensure the effectiveness of their future participation in the Alliance.

These included measures in the security sphere (e.g. arrangements for receiving, storing and using classified information), as well as in areas such as air defence, infrastructure, force planning and communication and information systems. However full integration of the new member countries is an ongoing process calling for continuing efforts over a longer period.

The main stages leading up to the accession of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland were as follows:

- 10 January 1994. At the NATO Summit in Brussels, the 16 Allied leaders said they expected and would welcome NATO enlargement that would reach to democratic states to the East. They reaffirmed that the Alliance, as provided for in Article 10 of the Washington Treaty, was open to membership of other European states in a position to further the principles of the Washington Treaty and to contribute to security in the North Atlantic area. - September 1995. The Alliance adopted a Study on NATO Enlargement. Without giving fixed criteria for inviting countries to join, the Study described a number of factors to be taken into account in the enlargement process. It also stipulated that the process should take into account political and security-related developments throughout Europe. The Study remains the basis for NATO's approach to inviting new members to join.

- During 1996, an intensified individual dialogue was undertaken with 12 interested Partner countries. These sessions improved their understanding of how the Alliance works and gave the Alliance a better understanding of where these countries stood in terms of their internal development as well as the resolution of any disputes with neighbouring countries. The Study identified this as an important precondition for membership.

- 10 December 1996. The NATO Allies began drawing up recommendations on which a country or countries should be invited to start accession talks, in preparation for a decision to be made at the Madrid Summit of July 1997.

- Early 1997. Intensified individual dialogue meetings took place with 11 Partner countries, at their request. In parallel, NATO military authorities undertook an analysis of relevant military factors concerning countries interested in NATO membership.

- 8 July 1997. Allied leaders, meeting in Madrid, invited three of the countries - the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland - to start accession talks with the Alliance.

These were the countries which were considered to be sufficiently prepared for Alliance membership and which fulfilled the conditions that had been established. Alliance leaders reaffirmed that NATO would remain open to other new members.

- September and November 1997. Accession talks were held with each of the three invited countries. At the end of the process, the three countries sent letters of intent confirming commitments undertaken during the talks. - 16 December 1997. NATO Foreign Ministers signed Protocols to the North Atlantic Treaty on the accession of the three countries.

- During 1998, Allied countries ratified the Protocols of Accession according to their national procedures.

- 12 March 1999. After completion of their own national legislative procedures, the Foreign Ministers of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland deposited the official documents relating to accession to the North Atlantic Treaty (known as the "instruments of accession") in a ceremony in Independence, Missouri, in the United States. The completion of this requirement marked their formal entry into the Alliance.

- 16 March 1999. The national flags of the three new member states were raised at a ceremony at NATO headquarters, Brussels. At the Madrid Summit Meeting in 1997, NATO Heads of State and Government encouraged other candidate states to continue to work towards eventual membership by following the guidelines laid out in the Study on NATO Enlargement and developing bilateral cooperation with NATO through the Partnership for Peace programme. They reaffirmed the Alliance's commitment to the “open door” policy in which all European countries meeting the conditions of Article 10 and the guidelines of the study could be considered for eventual membership. This policy was reaffirmed at the Washington Summit in 1999 and a Membership Action Plan (MAP) was launched to assist aspiring countries to prepare for membership.

The MAP is designed to provide a programme of activities from which countries may select those they consider of most value to help them in their preparations for possible future membership. The Plan calls for aspirants to submit individual annual national programmes on their preparations. It also provides mechanisms for feedback and advice on progress made by them in implementing these programmes.

It includes planning targets specifically covering areas most relevant for nations preparing their forces and capabilities for possible future membership; and annual meetings to ensure that the assistance provided by NATO and its member states is as effective as possible.

The Plan does not provide a checklist for countries to fulfil, nor does participation in the programme prejudge any eventual decision by the Alliance on issuing an invitation to begin accession talks. Such decisions will be made only on a case-by-case basis by all Allies on the basis of consensus.

Each year, NATO Foreign and Defence Ministers will consider progress on activities under the Membership Action Plan. NATO Heads of State and Government will review the enlargement process at their next summit meeting which will be held no later than the year 2002.

The door to NATO membership thus remains open to other European countries ready and willing to undertake the commitments and obligations stemming from NATO membership and contribute to security in the Euro-Atlantic area. The admission of new democratic members into NATO is itself part of a wider process of greater integration in Europe involving other European institutions.


NATO’s primary role for forty years was to convince the leaders of the Soviet Union that an attack on the NATO members would be costly and, ultimately, unsuccessful. Although for much of this period, it seemed very unlikely that the Soviet leaders would risk launching such an attack, there were moments when no one could be sure. The ideology of the Soviet Union, the political system it imposed on its own people and on the states of Central and Eastern Europe which had come under its influence, the way it sought to extend its domination over other countries and, above all, its excessive investment in military power, all contributed to the need for a strong Allied defence. NATO and the Soviet Union were thus locked in a political and military stand-off that could have had dire consequences for Europe and the world if it had turned to military confrontation. When the Soviet Union was dissolved in December 1991 a potential major threat, which had preoccupied NATO since its foundation, finally disappeared. The NATO countries set themselves the goal of developing a partnership with Russia, which became the primary successor state to the former Soviet Union. NATO invited Russia to join the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NAC-C), established as a forum for cooperation between NATO and former Warsaw Pact nations. Russia became one of the founding members. The partnership became more formal when, in June 1994, Russia joined the Partnership for Peace initiative.

In May 1995, it was agreed to develop, in addition, what was termed “Broad, Enhanced Dialogue and Cooperation” between NATO and Russia, on a separate, bilateral basis.

The NATO-Russia relationship was further strengthened in January 1996 when Russian forces joined NATO troops in the Implementation Force (IFOR), organised to implement the military aspects of the Peace Agreement in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Russian forces remain in Bosnia today as an important part of the NATO-led Stabilisation Force (SFOR). Since this cooperation began, both NATO and Russian forces have gained valuable, practical experience in working together. In spite of the positive development of this cooperation, the issue of NATO enlargement troubled the relationship between NATO and Russia. In response to the strong desires of new democracies in Central and Eastern Europe to join NATO, the Allies agreed in December 1994 to study “the why and how” of NATO enlargement. Most Russians viewed this and subsequent steps toward enlargement as a threat to Russian prestige, and for some it represented a threat to Russian security.

Russia’s attitude toward NATO enlargement reflected feelings about the Alliance that had been reinforced by four decades of Soviet propaganda. Many Russians found it difficult to accept that there were fundamental differences between NATO, a voluntary Alliance among independent countries, and the Warsaw Pact, where membership was imposed by the Soviet Union. The NATO Allies decided it was important to respond to the desire of the new democracies to join NATO, despite these expressions of concern and open opposition by many Russians.

At the same time they recognised the importance of trying to overcome Russian doubts and opposition by demonstrating that NATO did not represent a threat to Russia or its interests. On the contrary, it would serve the interests of the international community as a whole by creating greater stability throughout Europe. Moreover, there was a genuine respect for Russia and its position in the world and a determination to develop NATO-Russian cooperation. However, doubts over the wisdom of this policy were not limited to Russia and some Western analysts questioned the viability of this new relationship between former antagonistic powers. NATO’s efforts to reassure both Russian and other critics took several forms. The NATO Allies pledged that they had “no intention, no plan and no reason” to deploy nuclear weapons on the territory of new NATO member countries. They also said that they planned no permanent, substantial deployments of NATO soldiers in any new member states. Perhaps most importantly, the Allies authorised the NATO Secretary General to negotiate a more permanent cooperative relationship with Russia.

Those negotiations resulted in “The Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation,” signed in Paris in May 1997. The “Founding Act” set a large agenda of topics on which NATO and Russia would collaborate. It also created a “Permanent Joint Council” — NATO nations plus Russia — as a framework for continuing consultations. The work of the Council quickly became one of the important vehicles for the development of cooperative security relations in Europe. NATO-Russia cooperation had become a reality with the potential to overcome fears and prejudices on both sides.

NATO and Russia held extensive negotiations on the situation in Kosovo. On several occasions during the Kosovo crisis, high representatives of the NATO Allies and Russia met in extraordinary session. They could not agree on how to bring about a political solution to the conflict, although they agreed that a political solution should be based on autonomy for Kosovo, not independence. After the breakdown of negotiations between representatives of the Kosovar Albanians and the Belgrade government, the NATO Allies concluded that the government of President Milosevic had no intention of complying with UN Security Council Resolutions, nor of respecting agreements which had been reached, nor of engaging in genuine efforts to reach a political solution. There was therefore no alternative but to use force as a last resort.

Russia suspended its participation in the Permanent Joint Council following the Alliance's decision to intervene militarily in order to end the conflict in Kosovo. However, despite differences over the use of military force, NATO countries continued working closely with representatives of the Russian government in the context of diplomatic efforts to bring about an end to the conflict and a lasting political solution.

NATO and Russia's joint determination to work together on the diplomatic front, without allowing differences over the use of force to inhibit progress, played an instrumental role in moving the crisis over Kosovo closer to resolution. Russia's subsequent participation in the NATO-led peacekeeping force (KFOR) and the resumption of meetings of the Permanent Joint Council at Ambassadorial level in July 1999 also augured well for the future of NATO-Russia cooperation in the wider sphere.

In Florence, in May 2000, the foreign ministers of NATO nations and Russia met formally as the Permanent Joint Council for the first time since the start of the Kosovo air campaign.

They agreed to intensify their dialogue and resume work on a broad programme of joint activities, which had been developed since the signing of the NATO-Russia Founding Act in 1997 but was interrupted by sharp differences over how to handle the Kosovo conflict.

NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson and Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov both spoke positively about the outcome of the Florence meeting, which built on progress made during Lord Robertson’s visit to Moscow in February 2000. The NATO Secretary General expressed satisfaction that relations were back on track. Foreign Minister Ivanov underlined the importance attached by the Russian leadership to the renewal of dialogue with NATO. Agreement was reached on setting up a NATO Information Office in Moscow - a measure of the improvement in relations.

Following the foreign ministers’ meeting and the resumption of Russia’s wider working relationship with NATO, Russian Defence Minister Igor Sergeyev came to NATO headquarters in June 2000 for a constructive discussion with Allied defence ministers on cooperation in the military and defence field, as well as developments in Kosovo. His statement that there was no alternative to NATO-Russia cooperation echoed the views of NATO governments.

NATO countries and Russia face numerous common security problems in the Euro-Atlantic area, ranging from regional instability to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Over time, joint efforts to keep the peace in the Balkans, to promote arms control and non-proliferation, and to maintain a dialogue on issues such as military strategy and doctrine, should strengthen the basis of mutual trust which is essential for peace and stability. In sum, much has been achieved in NATO-Russia relations in recent years, to the benefit of stability and security in Europe as a whole. The NATO Allies believe that security in Europe cannot be built without Russia, and that they must seek together with Russia to build trust and cooperation to overcome the divisions of the past and to handle together security problems of the future. The benefits of working together to find common solutions to common problems are self-evident.


Ukraine emerged as a sovereign, independent European country when the Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991. The new Ukrainian leadership moved quickly to establish contact with NATO and to become involved in its activities.

Ukraine joined the North Atlantic Cooperation Council, established as a forum for formal cooperation between NATO and former Warsaw Pact and Soviet states. In February 1994, Ukraine also became the first of the newly independent republics emerging from the Soviet Union to join NATO’s Partnership for Peace programme, less than a month after the programme was launched. Ever since, Ukraine has been an active participant in PfP activities. The first real PfP exercise took place on Ukrainian soil in July 1997.

Ukraine has demonstrated its commitment to peace and stability in a democratic Europe in a number of ways. It has made significant contributions to the NATO-led Implementation Force in Bosnia (IFOR) and to the Stabilisation Force (SFOR) which replaced it, as well as to the verification mission created to ensure compliance with agreements which had been reached over Kosovo.

Ukraine has also contributed to the International Police Task Force for Bosnia and to other UN peacekeeping activities. The Ukrainian Government has systematically improved its relations with its neighbouring states in Central and Eastern Europe and has signed treaties resolving outstanding issues with all its neighbours. It has taken part in a variety of cooperative programmes, including the formation of a joint peacekeeping battalion with Poland. In 1997, the NATO-Ukraine relationship took a qualitative step forward when a “Charter for a Distinctive Partnership Between NATO and Ukraine" was signed. The Charter recorded positive achievements such as the withdrawal and dismantling of nuclear weapons from Ukrainian territory which had been completed by mid 1996. It also emphasised NATO support for Ukrainian plans to reform its defence arrangements, strengthen civilian control of its military structures, and improve the ability of Ukrainian forces to work together with NATO’s and other Partner countries' forces. The Charter made clear that NATO countries considered Ukrainian sovereignty, territorial integrity, democratic and economic development and non-nuclear status as essential for European security.

The Charter also introduced a number of practical steps. It established a NATO-Ukraine Commission (NUC) to oversee implementation of the agreement. The latter authorised cooperation on a wide range of topics, from civil emergency planning and disaster preparedness to environmental security issues, defence planning and discussion of national security concepts. To facilitate the flow of information between NATO and Ukraine, NATO opened an Information and Documentation Centre in Kyiv, the first such facility in a PfP country. NATO has also set up a NATO Liaison Office in Kyiv to assist Ukraine in further extending its participation in Partnership for Peace.

In all aspects of the NATO-Ukraine partnership, Ukraine has demonstrated its desire to contribute fully to Euro-Atlantic security. NATO policies towards Ukraine are based on respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty and independence and recognition of Ukraine’s special and important place in Central Europe.

A Summit meeting between the leaders of the 19 NATO member countries and the President of Ukraine was held in Washington on 24 April 1999. This was the first summit-level meeting in the framework of the NATO-Ukraine Commission established in 1997. In March 2000, the Commission met for the first time in Kyiv.

The forward progress of the relationship between NATO and Ukraine was inevitably affected by the crisis over Kosovo. However, since the crisis, political and practical cooperation have been further pursued. Ukrainian participation in the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Kosovo established in 1999 was welcomed, and NATO countries have affirmed their determination that cooperation should be extended and strengthened in the future.


Even during the Cold War, when NATO’s primary focus was on Central Europe, the Mediterranean region was of great strategic importance. In the 1990s, it became clear that developments in the Balkans and, further south, throughout the Mediterranean region, could have serious implications for European security. NATO’s enhanced focus on the Mediterranean region can be traced to the 1991 Strategic Concept. In this document, NATO countries expressed the desire to “maintain peaceful and non-adversarial relations with the countries in the Southern Mediterranean and Middle East.” They considered that the “stability and peace of the countries on the southern periphery of Europe are important for the security of the Alliance...”

The 1991 Strategic Concept also highlighted the importance NATO countries attached to developing dialogue and cooperation with countries that were not members of NATO. Although this policy was formulated with Central and Eastern European countries in mind, a similar approach lay behind the invitation to a number of interested Mediterranean countries to participate in a dialogue with the Alliance.

The development of the Mediterranean dialogue was one of many important initiatives taken in 1994. The Brussels Summit Declaration of January 1994 called for efforts to strengthen stability in the Mediterranean region and stated that progress in the Middle East Peace Process should lead to further efforts to “promote dialogue, understanding and confidence-building” in the area. NATO leaders examined measures to promote dialogue and declared that they were ready to establish individual contacts between the Alliance and Mediterranean non-member countries with a view to strengthening regional stability.

Later that year, NATO Foreign Ministers began putting the plan into action.

NATO subsequently began an active dialogue with six countries in the region which expressed interest: Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia. Algeria joined in April 2000. The dialogue is conducted on a bilateral basis with each of the Mediterranean partners, but includes multilateral meetings with dialogue partners whenever appropriate.

The dialogue is intended to address political topics as well as to sponsor specific activities. The Alliance provides information about its goals and activities as a way of overcoming misconceptions and concerns in the region about NATO. Dialogue Partner countries have been invited to participate in a range of activities in fields such as scientific cooperation and civil emergency planning and to send representatives to the NATO Defense College in Rome and other NATO training establishments to take part in programmes on peacekeeping, arms control, European security cooperation and other issues. Dialogue partners have demonstrated their desire to support initiatives aimed at peacekeeping and promoting stability in the region as a whole. Three of them — Morocco, Egypt and Jordan —contributed to NATO’s Implementation Force (IFOR) in Bosnia and Herzegovina and are contributors to its successor Stabilisation Force (SFOR). The dialogue is to be seen in the context of a broader effort aimed at improving understanding, building up confidence and creating the basis for cooperation between countries in the Mediterranean region and Europe as a whole. The European Union (EU), the Western European Union (WEU) and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) have each developed parallel initiatives intended to strengthen dialogue and promote stability in the Mediterranean area. NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue is based on the recognition that developments in the region can have a direct effect on the security interests of NATO countries and shows how security and stability can be strengthened through active programmes of consultation and cooperation between NATO and its Dialogue partners. It is an integral part of the Alliance’s approach to cooperative security.


The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), formerly known as the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), is a central part of the post-Cold War European security system. The OSCE began as a consultative process involving all European states — NATO, Warsaw Pact, and neutral countries. The process was punctuated by a series of Review Conferences culminating, in 1975, with the “Helsinki Final Act”, signed by all the participating states.

This landmark document provided an agreed set of basic principles governing the behaviour of states toward each other and to their own citizens — focussing in particular on human rights issues.

The Helsinki Final Act is not a legally binding document but there can be no doubt that its human rights provisions helped to stimulate the democratic revolutions in Central and Eastern Europe, thereby contributing to the end of the Cold War. Today, the Final Act still provides the “rules of the road” for inter-state relations in Europe and constructive guidelines for the development of democracy in all European countries. It is an excellent code of conduct for international relations.

In the early 1990s, some argued that NATO should be disbanded and replaced by the CSCE. They said that both NATO and the Warsaw Pact were remnants of Cold War European relations and that both should disappear. Such comparisons were misleading. NATO is and always was a voluntary alliance among independent countries. Warsaw Pact participation was imposed on its members by the Soviet Union.

NATO governments and the many countries that wished to join NATO, decided that both NATO and the CSCE had important roles to play in the cooperative European security system which was beginning to emerge. The fact that there was no longer a serious military threat from a hostile regime did not mean that security could be taken for granted and both organisations had their part to play in making Europe a safer place.

Meeting in London in July 1990, NATO leaders agreed that one of their goals was to strengthen the role of the CSCE as one of the pillars of European peace and stability. NATO reaffirmed this approach at its summit in Rome in November 1991. As an important token of NATO’s intentions, at a NATO ministerial meeting in Oslo, Norway, in June 1992, it was agreed that, on a case-by-case basis, NATO would provide support for peacekeeping operations initiated by the CSCE.

The Alliance also called for measures to strengthen the CSCE’s ability to prevent conflicts, manage crises and settle disputes peacefully. Shortly after the meeting in Oslo, as the extent of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia became increasingly apparent, NATO made a similar offer to provide support for UN peacekeeping operations – as was in fact already happening.

If the CSCE was to take on an expanded operational mandate it needed resources. As a “process,” existing CSCE structures were not capable of supporting a more ambitious role. In December 1994, a CSCE Summit meeting agreed to turn the process into a fully-fledged organisation – hence the decision to rename it OSCE.

Staff and financial resources were made available to enable the OSCE to send missions into European nations to mediate disputes, monitor elections and conduct other activities designed to prevent conflict.

Today, NATO and the OSCE work hand-in-hand to deal with potential threats to peace. In Bosnia, the OSCE has played a critical role in helping to establish free elections and to improve respect for human rights. NATO has provided the military support needed to give such efforts a chance to succeed. OSCE monitors and mediators have played important roles in helping to resolve conflicts and to build democracy from Abkhazia and Tajikistan to South Ossetia and Ukraine.

In Kosovo too, in late 1998 and early 1999, NATO provided surveillance and other forms of support for the unarmed OSCE verifiers given the task of trying to ensure that agreements between the two sides in the conflict were respected. NATO and the OSCE have subsequently been fully engaged in international efforts to bring lasting peace and stability to Kosovo.

The relationship between NATO and the OSCE has become an important feature of the new security system which is being developed to meet the needs of the new century.


One of NATO’s biggest challenges of the last decade has been to help to restore peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, first by establishing and leading a multinational, military, Implementation Force (IFOR), of some 60,000 troops, from 1995 to 1996, and subsequently deploying a similar but smaller Stabilisation Force (SFOR) to the region. The mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina represented the Alliance’s first major involvement in operational peacekeeping.

The Stabilisation Force, initially consisting of some 32,000 troops drawn from 38 nations, supports the efforts of the international community and the United Nations aimed at implementing the peace agreement in Bosnia; preventing the conflict from spreading; ending the humanitarian crisis; and helping to create conditions for the country to rebuild itself after the devastation of years of conflict. SFOR has subsequently been reduced and, in mid-2000, consisted of a 20,000-strong peacekeeping mission comprising troops from 16 NATO member countries as well as from 13 Partner countries, including a 1,200-strong Russian contingent. Conflict in the Balkans has been the single most serious threat to stability in Europe since the end of the Cold War. Following the break-up of the Yugoslav Federation in 1991 and the escalating conflicts which ensued, NATO played a central role in efforts to bring peace to this troubled region.

From 1992, together with the Western European Union, NATO monitored and enforced UN sanctions in the Adriatic to limit the flow of arms to the area. The Alliance also monitored and enforced the UN no-fly zone over Bosnia; provided close air support to the UN Protection Force (UNPROFOR) tasked with the protection of personnel involved in humanitarian work in the region; and carried out air strikes to lift the siege of Sarajevo.

In 1995, a combination of military pressures and diplomacy finally brought the different sides to the bargaining table. NATO forces helped prepare the groundwork by conducting air operations against Bosnian Serb forces for 12 days in August and September 1995. This action helped shift the balance of power between parties on the ground and persuade the Bosnian Serb leadership to accept the peace settlement.

A peace agreement was negotiated in Dayton, Ohio, and then signed in Paris on 14 December 1995. The United Nations gave NATO a mandate to help to implement the agreement and,

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