The first time that Heads of State and Government from NATO countries met was at the actual signing ceremony of the North Atlantic Treaty on 4 April 1949, but this was not a summit meeting. The first summit meeting was held six years later, in Paris in 1957, and subsequent summits occurred at key junctures in the history of the Alliance.
Paris, 16-19 December 1957
Reaffirmation of the principal purposes and unity of the Atlantic Alliance; Improvements in the coordination and organization of NATO forces and in political consultation arrangements; Recognition of the need for closer economic ties and for cooperation in the spirit of Article 2 of the Treaty, designed to eliminate conflict in international policies and encourage economic collaboration (Report of the Committee of the Three on Non-Military Cooperation in NATO, the so-called report of the Three Wise Men).
Brussels, 26 June 1974
Signature of the Declaration on Atlantic Relations adopted by NATO foreign ministers in Ottawa on 19 June, confirming the dedication of member countries of the Alliance to the aims and ideals of the Treaty in the 25th anniversary of its signature; Consultations on East-West relations in preparation for US-USSR summit talks on strategic nuclear arms limitations.
Brussels, 29-30 May 1975
Affirmation of the fundamental importance of the Alliance and of Allied cohesion in the face of international economic pressures following the 1974 oil crisis; Support for successful conclusion of negotiations in the framework of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) (to result in 1975, in the signing of the Helsinki Final Act).
London, 10-11 May 1977
Initiation of study on long-term trends in East-West relations and of a long-term defence programme (LTDP) aimed at improving the defensive capability of NATO member countries.
Washington D.C., 30-31 May 1978
Review of interim results of long-term initiatives taken at the 1977 London Summit; Confirmation of the validity of the Alliance’s complementary aims of maintaining security while pursuing East-West détente; Adoption of 3% target for growth in defence expenditures.
Bonn, 10 June 1982
Accession of Spain; Adoption of the Bonn Declaration setting out a six-point Programme for Peace in Freedom; Publication of a statement of Alliance’s goals and policies on Arms Control and Disarmament and a statement on Integrated NATO Defence.
Brussels, 21 November 1985
Special meeting of the North Atlantic Council for consultations with President Reagan on the positive outcome of the US-USSR Geneva Summit on arms control and other areas of cooperation.
Brussels, 2-3 March 1988
Reaffirmation of the purpose and principles of the Alliance (reference to the Harmel Report on the Future Tasks of the Alliance published in 1967) and of its objectives for East-West relations; Adoption of a blue print for strengthening stability in the whole of Europe through conventional arms control negotiations.
Brussels, 29-30 May 1989
Declaration commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Alliance setting out Alliance policies and security objectives for the 1990s aimed at maintaining Alliance defence, introducing new arms control initiatives, strengthening political consultation, improving East-West cooperation and meeting global challenges; Adoption of a comprehensive Concept of Arms Control and Disarmament.
Brussels, 4 December 1989
Against the background of fundamental changes in Central and Eastern Europe and the prospect of the end of the division of Europe, US President Bush consults with Alliance leaders following his summit meeting with President Gorbachev in Malta. While the NATO summit meeting is taking place, Warsaw Pact leaders denounce the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia and repudiate the Brejhnev Doctrine of limited sovereignty.
London, 5-6 July 1990
Publication of the London Declaration on a Transformed North Atlantic Alliance, outlining proposals for developing cooperation with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe across a wide spectrum of political and military activities including the establishment of regular diplomatic liaison with NATO.
Rome, 7-8 November 1991
Publication of several key documents: the Alliance’s new Strategic Concept, of the Rome Declaration on Peace and Cooperation and of statements on developments in the Soviet Union and the situation in Yugoslavia.
Brussels, 10-11 January 1994
Launching of the Partnership for Peace (PfP) initiative; All North Atlantic Cooperation Council Partner countries and members of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) are invited to participate; Publication of the Partnership for Peace Framework Document; Endorsement of the concept of Combined Joint Task Forces (CJTFs) and other measures to develop the European Security and Defence Identity; Reaffirmation of Alliance readiness to carry out air strikes in support of UN objectives in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Paris, 27 May 1997
Signing of the Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between the Russian Federation and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The Founding Act states that NATO and Russia are no longer adversaries and establishes the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council.
Madrid, 8-9 July 1997
Invitations to the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland to begin accession talks; Reaffirmation of NATO’s Open Door Policy; Recognition of achievement and commitments represented by the NATO Russia-Founding Act; Signature of the Charter on a Distinctive Partnership between NATO and Ukraine; First meeting of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council at summit level that replaces the North Atlantic Cooperation Council; An enhanced Partnership for Peace; Updating of the 1991 Strategic Concept and adoption of a new defence posture; Reform of the NATO military command structure; Special Declaration on Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Washington D.C., 23-24 April 1999
Commemoration of NATO's 50th Anniversary; Allies reiterate their determination to put an end to the repressive actions by President Milosevic against the local ethnic Albanian population in Kosovo; The Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland participate in their first summit meeting; Adoption of the Membership Action Plan; Publication of a revised Strategic Concept; Enhancement of the European Security and Defence Identity within NATO; Launch of the Defence Capabilities Initiative; Strengthening of Partnership for Peace and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, as well as the Mediterranean Dialogue; Launch of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Initiative.
Rome, 28 May 2002
NATO Allies and the Russian Federation create the NATO-Russia Council, where they meet as equal partners, bringing a new quality to NATO-Russia relations. The NATO-Russia Council replaces the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council.
Prague, 21-22 November 2002
Invitation of Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia to begin accession talks; Reaffirmation of NATO’s Open Door Policy; Adoption of a series of measures to improve military capabilities (The Prague Capabilities Commitment, the NATO Response Force and the streamlining of the military command structure); Adoption of a Military Concept for Defence against Terrorism; Decision to support NATO member countries in Afghanistan; Endorsement of a package of initiatives to forge new relationships with partners.
Istanbul, 28-29 June 2004
Participation of seven new members to the event (Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia); Expansion of NATO’s operation in Afghanistan by continuing the establishment of Provincial Reconstruction Teams throughout the country; Agreement to assist the Iraqi Interim Government with the training of its security forces; Maintaining support for stability in the Balkans; Decision to change NATO’s defence-planning and force-generation processes, while strengthening contributions to the fight against terrorism, including WMD aspects; Strengthening cooperation with partners and launch of the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative with countries from the broader Middle East region.
Brussels, 22 February 2005
Leaders reaffirm their support for building stability in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq, and commit to strengthening the partnership between NATO and the European Union.
Riga, 28-29 November 2006
Review of progress in Afghanistan in light of the expansion of ISAF to the entire country and call for broader international engagement; Confirmation that the Alliance is prepared to play its part in implementing the security provisions of a settlement on the status of Kosovo; Measures adopted to further improve NATO’s military capabilities; NATO Response Force declared operational; Comprehensive Political Guidance published. Initiatives adopted to deepen and extend relations with partners; Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia invited to join Partnership for Peace.
Bucharest, 2-4 April 2008
At Bucharest, Allied leaders review the evolution of NATO’s main commitments: operations (Afghanistan and Kosovo); enlargement and the invitation of Albania and Croatia to start the accession process (the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia* will also be invited as soon as ongoing negotiations over its name have led to an agreement); the continued development of military capabilities to meet.
Strasbourg/ Kehl, 3-4 April 2009
Against the backdrop of NATO’s 60th anniversary, adoption of a Declaration on Alliance Security, calling for a new Strategic Concept; adherence to basic principles and shared values, as well as the need for ongoing transformation; in-depth discussion on Afghanistan, NATO’s key priority; welcoming of two new members: Albania and Croatia, and the pursuit of NATO’s open door policy (invitation extended to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia* as soon as a solution to the issue surrounding the country’s name is reached); France’s decision to fully participate in NATO structures and the impact of this decision on the Alliance’s relations with the European Union; and NATO’s relations with Russia.
Lisbon 19-20 November 2010
Publication of a new Strategic Concept; gradual transition process to full Afghan security responsibility to start in 2011, backed by Allied agreement on a long-term partnership with Afghanistan; decision to develop a NATO missile defence system to protect populations and territory in Europe, in addition to deployed troops, against potential ballistic missile attacks; Russia invited to cooperate as part of a broader “reset” of relations with NATO; adoption of a comprehensive approach to crisis management, including a greater role in stabilization and reconstruction for the Alliance and greater emphasis on training and developing local forces; continue to support arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation efforts, and maintain an appropriate mix of nuclear and conventional forces; adoption of the Lisbon Capabilities Package that identifies critical capabilities; agreement to develop a NATO cyber defence policy and action plan; streamlining of NATO’s military command structure and rationalization of NATO agencies; new impetus given to relations with partners and NATO’s partnership policy in the broad sense of the term.
Chicago 20-21 May 2012
NATO leaders set out a strategy to conclude the transition of security responsibility to Afghan forces by the end of 2014 and commited to a new post-2014 mission to train, advise and assist Afghan forces. The ISAF coalition of 50 states was joined by an unprecedented number of partners committed to Afghanistan’s stability, bringing the total number of countries and organisations represented at Chicago to over 60. NATO leaders approved the Defence and Deterrence Posture Review and adopted a Defence Package and new policy guidelines on counter-terrorism. An Interim Ballistic Missile Capability was declared and initiatives taken in other key capability areas such as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and air policing. NATO leaders confirmed efforts to pursue cooperative security and engage with partners across the globe as well as countries that aspire to NATO membership.