NATO’s relations with Central Asia
NATO continues to deepen cooperation with its partner countries in Central Asia — Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. It is part of NATO’s policy to reach out to strategically important regions whose security and stability are closely linked to wider Euro-Atlantic security. Each of the five countries has the potential to positively impact the future development of Afghanistan, where the Alliance remains deeply engaged.
NATO’s new Strategic Concept, adopted at the Lisbon Summit in November 2010, states that the promotion of Euro-Atlantic security is best assured through a wide network of partner relationships with countries and organizations around the globe. A focused effort to reform NATO’s partnerships policy was launched at Lisbon to make dialogue and cooperation more inclusive, flexible and strategically oriented. The new policy was endorsed by Allied foreign ministers at their meeting in Berlin in April 2011.
NATO’s partnership structures and cooperation programmes offer a multilateral framework for security dialogue and opportunities for practical bilateral cooperation in a wide range of areas with NATO member states and other partner countries. This promotes transparency, builds confidence and helps address shared security challenges.
All five Central Asian countries were early participants in the North Atlantic Cooperation Council – a forum for dialogue established by the Alliance in December 1991 as a first step in reaching out beyond the East-West divide to former Warsaw Pact members. This body was later replaced by the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council in 1997. Four out of the five countries quickly took advantage of the opportunities offered by the Partnership for Peace, joining this major programme of practical bilateral cooperation shortly after its launch in 1994 (Tajikistan joined later, in 2002). At the Istanbul Summit of 2004, Allied leaders decided to make partnership with Central Asia, as well as the Caucasus, a priority for the Alliance.
Each Central Asian country’s relations with NATO have evolved differently, as individual partners are free to choose how and in which areas they wish to cooperate with NATO. Aside from cooperating with the Alliance, several of the Central Asian partners also participate in other regional security organizations. NATO sees no contradiction between their cooperation with the Alliance and their desire to build strong relations with other organizations.