NATO Contact Point Embassies
Since the early 1990s, NATO has developed a network of Contact Point Embassies (CPE) to support the Alliance’s partnership and public diplomacy activities in countries participating in the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC), Partnership for Peace (PfP), Mediterranean Dialogue (MD) and Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI). Following the review of NATO’s partnerships policy in April 2011, the network of CPEs has also been extended to other partners across the globe.
CPEs are a valuable tool which contribute to NATO’s outreach efforts. In every partner country an embassy of one of the NATO member states serves as a contact point and operates as a channel for disseminating information about the role and policies of the Alliance. In addition to this public diplomacy role, the CPEs mandate has been extended to also include support – as required – for the implementation of other agreed activities with partners.
CPEs work closely with NATO’s Public Diplomacy Division to provide information on the purpose and activities of the Alliance in the host country while also supporting the Political Affairs and Security Policy Division with its management of EAPC, PfP, MD and ICI policy.
CPEs are not NATO’s diplomatic mission in the host country; however, they play an important role in disseminating information about the Alliance. CPEs identify key decision makers, opinion formers and public diplomacy opportunities within the country and coordinate with the Public Diplomacy Division on events. CPEs also inform individuals within the host country on how to apply for NATO fellowships and participate in scientific programmes.
CPEs offer advice to NATO Headquarters on various project proposals as well as on an array of NATO-related issues within the host country, such as political discussions, debates and concerns and changes in public opinion. CPEs also assist with logistical support, political advice and briefings on relevant developments in the host country in preparation for visits to the country by the Secretary General, NATO International Staff and NATO forces. They also regularly liaise with other NATO member nation embassies in the host country to inform about NATO’s agenda and involve them in NATO-related activities or events.
NATO’s member countries volunteer the services of their embassies in partner countries to assume the duties of CPE for a period of two years. The final decision on the assignment of CPEs is taken by consensus in the North Atlantic Council – the principal decision-making body within NATO. PDD coordinates the CPE network and liaises closely with each CPE.