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NATO and its members countries

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, or NATO, is a military alliance formed of twenty-eight member states. It is also known as OTAN, from Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique Nord, or as the North Atlantic Alliance. Its function is to provide a collaborative system of mutual defence in the event of an attack on a member state by a third party. The organisation's headquarters is situated in Brussels.

NATO members

The majority of NATO members are European or North American countries. The most recent additions to the NATO nations were Albania and Croatia, both of which joined in April 2009. As well as these countries, the organisation works with a large number of other states in running or cooperating with a range of formal and informal partnerships worldwide. Twenty-two countries take part in the Partnership for Peace initiative, and fifteen more are enrolled in institutionalised talks.

NATO originated with the North Atlantic Treaty, signed on April 4th, 1949, in Washington DC. At this time there were twelve members, five of which had signed the Treaty of Brussels in 1948.

These NATO members formally agreed that an attack on one member country would be considered an attack on them all, and an appropriate response delivered.

NATO nations

It would be over fifty years before Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty was invoked. This is the article which states that an attack on one member of the treaty organisation constitutes an attack on all members. Following the attacks on the USA in September 2011, NATO members mobilised to contain the threat. Forces under ISAF, the International Security Assistance Force, were dispatched to Afghanistan, and the organisation remains closely involved. Amongst other duties, NATO nations assist with training in Iraq and maintain the no-fly zone over Libya. They are also committed to counter-piracy operations.

The underlying purpose of NATO is to ensure safety and freedom for its member countries by deploying political and military measures as is deemed necessary. It is a unique forum for defence and international cooperation, as well as a powerful military force: over 70% of worldwide expenditure on defence is by NATO nations

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