Updated: 25-Nov-2002 November 2002

21 Nov. 2002


NATO transformed:
new members, capabilities and partnerships

At their meeting in Prague, NATO Heads of State and Government opened a new chapter in the Alliance’s history by inviting seven countries to Accession Talks and committing themselves to equip NATO with new capabilities to meet the security threats of the 21st century.

The two-day “transformation Summit”, 21-22 November, ended with the adoption of far-reaching decisions on the Alliance’s future roles and tasks. These include the creation of a cutting-edge NATO Response Force, a commitment to enhance the Alliance’s military capabilities, and a statement on Iraq.

“This is not business as usual, but the emergence of a new and modernised NATO, fit for the challenges of the new century,” said NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson.

New members

Heads of State and Government issued invitations to seven countries to begin accession talks to join the Alliance: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. The countries are expected to join NATO in 2004.

New capabilities for new threats

Alliance leaders approved a package of measures aimed at ensuring that NATO has the tools it needs to meet the “grave new threats and profound security challenges of the 21st century”:

  • NATO Response Force – a technologically advanced, flexible, deployable, interoperable and sustainable force including land, sea, and air elements ready to move quickly to wherever needed;
  • Streamlined military command – NATO’s command structure will be restructured into a leaner, more efficient, effective and deployable command structure, in order to meet the operational requirements for the full range of Alliance missions. There will be two strategic commands, one operational –the strategic command for Operations (Europe), and one functional – the strategic command for Transformation (United States).
  • Prague Capabilities Commitment - individual Allies have made firm and specific political commitments to improve their capabilities in areas key to modern military operations, such as strategic air and sea lift and air-to-ground surveillance;
  • Defence against new threats – an agreement was reached on a military concept for defence against terrorism and five specific initiatives in the area of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons defence were endorsed to enhance the Alliance’s defence capabilities against weapons of mass destruction. Heads of State and Government also decided to strengthen NATO’s defence against cyber attacks and initiate a missile defence feasibility study.

United on Iraq

On Iraq, the Allies stated that they “stand united in their commitment to take effective action to assist and support the efforts of the UN to ensure full and immediate compliance by Iraq, without conditions or restrictions, with UNSCR 1441.”

Strengthened partnerships

The Alliance’s transformation will include upgraded co-operation with partner countries. The Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, which met at the level of Heads of State and Government, endorsed a package of measures to strengthen the partnership, including a Partnership Action Plan Against Terrorism. Terrorism-related issues will also be one of the areas of enhanced co-operation with NATO’s Mediterranean dialogue countries.

Meetings of the NATO-Russia Council and the NATO-Ukraine Commission at the level of foreign ministers were also held.

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