In Madrid, NATO Heads of State and Government
invited the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland to
start accession talks with the aim of joining the
Alliance in 1999. They also confirmed that the Alliance
remains open to other countries joining in future.
Between now and their entry into the Alliance, these
three new democracies will be thoroughly prepared
to meet the responsibilities and obligations of membership.
In particular, they will undergo practical preparations
to ensure their fullest participation in NATO's command
and force structures. These procedures will ensure
that the Alliance's overall goal of strengthening
security for all of Europe can be achieved.
NATO's Partnership for Peace (PfP)
programme opened up huge opportunities for cooperation
between the Alliance and non-NATO countries in Europe,
far exceeding initial hopes. By strengthening PfP
significantly, the Alliance now aims to engage partners
fully at the military level while giving them greater
say in the direction of the partnership. The new
Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) will provide
a mechanism for deeper consultation among partners
as well as a framework in which this enhanced PfP
can develop. Both initiatives will deepen relations
between NATO and the partners so they can meet the
security challenges of the future.
The NATO-Russia Founding Act firmly
establishes the basis for a permanent security partnership
between the two sides, laying to rest the notion
that they were forever destined to be adversaries.
The signing of the Act, which took place in Paris
on 27 May, does not mean that differences of policy
or outlook will vanish overnight. But these differences
can lessen over time through a process of broad,
regular consultations on political and security
matters within the newly-created Permanent Joint
Council. The main task is to give life to the document
by exploiting to the full the new opportunities.
The Charter on a Distinctive Partnership
between NATO and Ukraine, signed at the Madrid summit
on 9 July, opens up new opportunities for the two
sides to consult and cooperate on political and
security issues. The Charter demonstrates the Alliance's
support for Ukraine as it regains its rightful place
in Europe after a tragic past of foreign domination.
But the new mechanisms provided by the Charter,
in particular the NATO-Ukraine Commission which
will meet periodically to find ways of pushing the
relationship forward, must be put to full use if
the partnership is to flourish.
Simple geography means there will
always be a link between security in Europe and
that of the Mediterranean. NATO's dialogue with
six non-NATO countries of the Mediterranean region,
launched in 1995, aims to dispel possible misconceptions
about the Alliance and to build confidence through
greater transparency, discussion and cooperation.
An important part of the Alliance's policy of partnership
and cooperation, the Mediterranean dialogue has
been given new political impetus by the Madrid Summit.
The Mediterranean Cooperation Group, established
by NATO Heads of State and Government in Madrid,
will involve allied member states directly in bilateral
political discussions with partners.
NATO's new missions of peacekeeping
and crisis management, and the opportunity to build
a new security architecture in Europe, have made
fundamental changes in its structure an imperative.
The Madrid Summit has provided the catalyst for
work to reshape the Alliance's military posture
towards smaller but more flexible and mobile forces,
adapting the multinational command structure accordingly,
and developing a European Security and Defence Identity
(ESDI) within NATO. The new structure will also
have to be flexible enough to cater for the accession
of new members and deepening cooperation with partner
nations. This transformation of the Alliance will
enable NATO to respond to the challenges of the