of the Meeting of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council
- The Foreign Ministers and Representatives of the member countries of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC) and the Partnership for Peace (PfP) met in Brussels today. The Secretary General of the Western European Union and the Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE also attended the meeting. The meeting marked the fifth anniversary of the inauguration of the NACC, in December, 1991.
- The Secretary General of NATO informed the NACC about the results of the North Atlantic Council meeting on 10 December.
- The Ministers and Representatives received status reports on ongoing NACC/PfP cooperation, including a list of additional activities for 1997 under the NACC Work Plan for 1996-1997. They agreed to publish the latest report on cooperation in peacekeeping. Ministers discussed the impressive achievements of the NACC in the five years since its inception and of the PfP. They noted that NACC has provided an important forum for regular consultations on political and security-related issues, promoted valuable practical cooperative activities under its regular Work Plans, which responded directly to the needs of the member states in a period of profound change, and laid the foundations for the intensified, highly successful cooperation in the PfP. Ministers welcomed Switzerland's decision to join the Partnership for Peace programme. Ministers agreed that further enhancement of transparency and confidence in security matters among member states, to which NACC and PfP have already significantly contributed, must remain a central aim of future cooperation. Ministers discussed the further strengthening of cooperation, particularly the Partnership for Peace, as a permanent feature of the European security architecture. They exchanged views on the results of the North Atlantic Council meeting on 10 December, in particular on the initiative to establish an Atlantic Partnership Council (APC) as a single new cooperative mechanism, which would form the framework for enhanced efforts in both practical cooperation under PfP and an expanded political dimension of Partnership.
- Ministers discussed the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. They welcomed the essential, positive contributions of the multinational Implementation Force (IFOR) there, including NATO Allies, 13 other NACC/PfP member states as well as non-European contributors, to the restoration of peace and to supporting the work of the High Representative and other international civilian organisations. They commended the men and women from all contributing states who shared in these efforts and paid particular tribute to those who have given their life for the ideal of peace and reconciliation.
- Ministers noted with satisfaction that all countries participating in IFOR were prepared to continue to contribute to the consolidation of the results already achieved through a new operation of an 18-month duration, reduced in size, with the mission focussed on ensuring a secure environment for the implementation of the civilian aspects of the peace accords. They welcomed the completion of the planning process for the new force, SFOR, which will allow for a smooth and timely transition from the existing operation, and the recent offers by additional nations to participate. Ministers underlined their satisfaction that cooperation within PfP greatly facilitated the IFOR mission which, in turn, offers many lessons which will be applied in enhancing PfP cooperation.
- Ministers also exchanged views on the prospects for regional cooperation now that the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina has ceased and underlined the importance of such cooperation for strengthening security and stability in the region.
- The Ministers agreed to hold their next meeting in Sintra, Portugal, on 30 May 1997.