Chairman's Summary of the Meeting of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council in Defence Ministers Session
This was the first meeting of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council EAPC) at Defence Ministers level since the Washington Summit. The meeting focused on cooperation in the Balkans and progress in developing the enhanced and more operational Partnership as foreseen at Washington. In addition, the Secretary General reported on the outcome of NATO ministerial meetings and Ministers received a briefing on the status of implementation of the Alliance's Defence Capabilities Initiative.
Ministers welcomed the continuing progress towards full implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement in Bosnia and Herzegovina and noted that, in the light of the improved security situation, SFOR restructuring had begun. They confirmed that support for law and order, the return of refugees and displaced persons, and the strengthening of common institutions should remain high on SFOR's agenda.
Ministers noted with satisfaction KFOR's achievements in building stability and security, as well as the continuing humanitarian improvements which its deployment had made possible. They also took stock of the major challenges which confront KFOR. Ministers called upon all communities in Kosovo to work together, and to support the international community's efforts in the reconstruction of Kosovo, for which the necessary resources need to be made urgently available. They confirmed their support for KFOR's even-handed approach to establishing a secure environment and providing support for key civil implementation tasks in accordance with UNSCR 1244.
Ministers noted a progress report on the Alliance's South East Europe Initiative, welcoming work underway in the framework of the EAPC and the PfP on proposals to contribute to security and stability in the Balkan region.
Ministers welcomed the increasingly important role which Partnership plays in strengthening security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area, in particular its political and military contribution in support of NATO-led operations in the Balkans. They also welcomed the progress which had been made in implementing steps to enhance PfP and make it more operational.
In this context, Ministers noted the agreement of the first Ministerial Guidance by Alliance Ministers and Ministers from Partner nations participating in the PfP Planning and Review Process (PARP). This guidance will be taken into account in developing Partnership Goals, which seek to enhance interoperability between Partner forces declared for PfP and provide planning targets for the development of Partner forces and capabilities for NATO-led PfP operations. They welcomed steps taken to implement the Political-Military Framework for NATO-led PfP operations and stressed the importance of information exchanges and consultations with Partners contributing to the NATO-led SFOR and KFOR operations in the Balkans.
Ministers also endorsed the new Operational Capabilities Concept for NATO-led PfP Operations which seeks to reinforce PfP's operational capabilities. This concept will introduce new mechanisms to improve the interoperability of Partner forces and the Alliance's ability to mount and sustain peace support operations with Partners in the future.
Finally, Ministers endorsed a progress report on the PfP Training and Education Enhancement Programme, which aims to place increased emphasis on training and education to meet the current and future needs of the Partnership.
The Ministers welcomed the intention to meet again in June 2000 in Brussels.