|Updated: 11 July 2000||NATO Basic Texts|
Final communique of the Ministerial meeting of the North Atlantic Council (including decisions on NATO support for peacekeeping operations under the responsibility of the UN Security Council)
Brussels, 17 December 1992
1. We have met today at a time of serious challenges to European security arising from regional conflicts. We have consulted on this grave situation and on the contributions that the Atlantic Alliance can make to meeting these challenges. As the Harmel Report emphasised 25 years ago, the ultimate political purpose of the Alliance is to achieve a just and lasting peaceful order in Europe. This remains our goal. In our new Strategic Concept, we have recognised the changing security environment. To meet the new risks and challenges, we will use Alliance resources and expertise in a framework of mutually reinforcing institutions, while continuing to ensure an effective collective defence.
2. The transatlantic partnership, which is embodied in our Alliance, remains vital for European security and stability. The Alliance not only guarantees its members' security, but also remains one of the indispensable instruments for promoting stability and shaping change throughout Europe. An effective Atlantic Alliance and a continuing active, broad cooperation between Europe and North America are essential for a durable order of peace and cooperation in the Euro-Atlantic area. The substantial presence of US armed forces in Europe and the continuing political and military commitment and active engagement in European security of both the United States and Canada will remain essential. The tasks we face in supporting the process of democratic reform in Central and Eastern Europe and the republics on the territory of the former Soviet Union underscore the importance of maintaining a strong transatlantic partnership based on a community of values and purpose.
NATO's role in peacekeeping
3. Following the decision which we took in Oslo, we have reviewed the progress made concerning Alliance support for CSCE peacekeeping, and have instructed the Council in Permanent Session to complete its work on this issue. We will further strengthen Alliance coordination in peacekeeping, and develop practical measures to enhance the Alliance's contribution in this area. The Military Committee has already advised the Council in Permanent Session of the resources available and the modalities for possible Alliance support for peacekeeping. We are ready to share experiences in peacekeeping with our Cooperation Partners and other CSCE participating states, and to join them as required in supporting CSCE peacekeeping operations.
4. We confirm today the preparedness of our Alliance to support, on a case-by-case basis and in accordance with our own procedures, peacekeeping operations under the authority of the UN Security Council, which has the primary responsibility for international peace and security. We are ready to respond positively to initiatives that the UN Secretary-General might take to seek Alliance assistance in the implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions. We have asked NATO's Secretary General to maintain in this respect, under the guidance of the Council in Permanent Session, the necessary contacts with the Secretary-General of the UN regarding the assistance that the Alliance could provide.
5. In this spirit, we are contributing individually and as an Alliance to the implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions relating to the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. For the first time in its history, the Alliance is taking part in UN peacekeeping and sanctions enforcement operations. The Alli- ance, together with the WEU, is supporting with its ships in the Adriatic the enforcement of the UN economic sanctions against Serbia and Montenegro and of the arms embargo against all republics of former Yugoslavia. UNPROFOR is using elements from the Alliance's NORTHAG command for its operational headquarters. NATO airborne early-warning aircraft - AWACS - are monitoring daily the UN-mandated no-fly zone over Bosnia- Herzegovina.
Relations with cooperation partners and NACC
6. The Alliance is helping to promote stability throughout the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia and is supporting their reform processes. The North Atlantic Cooperation Council, created a year ago, has developed into a valuable forum for consultations on security and conflict prevention.We have built up a broad and diverse programme of practical cooperation in areas where our Alliance has competence and expertise. We intend to develop further this dynamic cooperative process step by step, giving it a more practical focus.We have prepared, together with our cooperation partners, a new and expanded Work Plan for 1993. The commitment of all partners to full respect for human rights and democratic principles, as set out in the CSCE documents and in accordance with their international legal obligations, will continue to be the basis of our cooperation. We welcome all positive steps taken in this regard by our North Atlantic Cooperation Council partners, and urge continued efforts.
Strengthening the CSCE structures
7. The CSCE has an essential role to play in developing a cooperative approach to security and in conflict prevention and crisis management. We support the further strengthening of CSCE structures and the extension of the CSCE's authority and operational involvement in the prevention of conflict. We welcome in this respect the strategy of active diplomacy agreed at the CSCE Ministerial Council in Stockholm.We welcome, in particular, the strengthening of the CSCE's operational cap- abilities through structural reforms and the appointment of a Secretary General; the appointment of a High Commissioner on National Minorities; and the establishment of additional mechanisms for the peaceful settlement of disputes. As required, we will support the work of the CSCE with whatever experience and expertise we can usefully contribute.
8. We attach great importance to the Forum for Security Cooperation in Vienna, established by the CSCE Helsinki Summit Meeting as a framework for shaping a new relationship of cooperative security among all CSCE participating states. We have put forward, in association with other participating states, a number of proposals for the Programme for Immediate Action agreed in Helsinki dealing with the harmonisation of existing arms control obligations, with defence planning and with the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and conven- tional arms transfers. We will continue to develop further proposals. We urge all states of the CSCE to participate in the Vienna Forum as well as in all the other CSCE fora.
Practical relationship between NATO and WEU
9. We reaffirm our support for the development of a common European foreign and security policy and defence identity as reflected in the Declaration on Peace and Cooperation adopted by the Alliance in Rome on 8 November 1991 and in the Treaty and Declarations adopted by the European Community and the Western European Union in Maastricht on 9 and 10 December 1991.We believe that the Alliance's interests are best served by a more united Europe and that the maintenance of a strong Atlantic Alliance will be a fundamental element in any emerging European defence policy.
10. We welcome the results of the WEU Ministerial Council meeting in Rome on 20 November, which confirmed the participation of all European Allies in the activities of the WEU as full members, associate members or observers, thereby reinforcing the European pillar of the Alliance. We also welcome the progress made by the WEU in further developing its operational role and structures. These developments will facilitate close working relations and interaction between NATO and the WEU. Our cooperation in the Adriatic is a case in point.
We reaffirm the importance of maintaining Allies' existing obligations and commitments of forces to NATO and we emphasise in this regard that the primary responsibility of forces answerable to the WEU will remain NATO's collective defence under the Washington Treaty.
11. We have endorsed an Alliance document proposing guide- lines for the practical working relations between the two organisations. These arrangements will help to ensure that all the Allies are properly involved in decisions that may affect their security. We look forward to the transfer of the WEU Council and Secretariat to Brussels early in 1993, which will allow close practical cooperation between the two Councils and Secretariats. We welcomed the presence of the Secretary General of the WEU, Mr. Willem van Eekelen, who participated in our meeting for the first time. We are committed to ensuring that the two organisations continue to work on the basis of transparency and complemen- tarity, recognising that it is for each of them to take its own decisions. We reiterate our appreciation of the fact that in stating their aim of introducing joint positions into the process of consultation in the Alliance, the WEU member states have affirmed that the Alliance will remain the essential forum for consultation among its members and the venue for agreement on policies bearing on the security and defence commitments of Allies under the Washington Treaty; and also of WEU's stated intention to strengthen the role, responsibilities and contribu- tions of the WEU member states in the Alliance and to act in conformity with the positions adopted in the Alliance.
12. We express our satisfaction at the initiative taken by the French and German governments in submitting to the Council their joint proposal on the relationship between the European Corps they have created and the Alliance. This major unit, which we note is open to the other WEU partners, is a step forward in strengthening both the European security and defence identity and the European pillar of the Alliance. We welcome the agreement between the French and German Chiefs of Staff and the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe on the conditions under which the Corps is to be used within the framework of the Atlantic Alliance. This agreement will be considered by the Military Committee and submitted expeditiously to the Council in Permanent Session for approval.
13. The use of force in contravention of international law for whatever goal is intolerable. Regional conflicts cannot be settled through violence, but only through negotiations and full respect for human and democratic rights, including those of persons belonging to national minorities, the territorial integrity of all states and the inviolability of all frontiers in accordance with CSCE principles and other relevant international commitments and norms.We remain profoundly concerned by the continuing violence in the former Yugoslavia, including the abhorrent practice referred to as ``ethnic cleansing'', and have issued today a separate statement on this conflict.
14. We deeply regret the ongoing hostilities in and around Nagorno-Karabakh. We urge the parties involved to establish an effective ceasefire. We strongly support UN and CSCE principles as well as all steps and decisions taken by the CSCE in relation to the present conflict. We continue to believe the proposed CSCE Conference in Minsk offers an immediate opportunity to achieve a peaceful settlement of this conflict, and we support efforts to convene the conference on the basis of the continuation of the work begun in the framework of the Rome meeting.
15. Completion of the expeditious withdrawal of foreign troops from the Baltic states under appropriate withdrawal agreements is important in view of the overriding principle that military forces should be stationed on the territory of a foreign state only with the consent of that state. The continuation of the withdrawal process will be a major contribution to stability in the Baltic region. We recognise that practical difficulties have to be overcome, but temporary problems should not be allowed to delay the overall process. This withdrawal should not be linked to other issues. We invite all parties to exercise flexibility and moderation in negotiations to resolve remaining problems, including those of a social and material nature.
16. We welcome the definitive entry into force on 9 November of the CFE Treaty, which, together with the Concluding Act of the Negotiation on Personnel Strengths of Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE 1-A), we consider one of the foundations of European security.We stress, following the end of the CFE baseline validation period, the importance of all parties adhering to the schedule for the reduction of Treaty-limited equipment as well as to the information exchange, verification and other provisions of the Treaty.
17. We look forward to the early entry into force of the Treaty on Open Skies and to adherence to it by interested states participating in the CSCE which were not original signatories to the Treaty as provided for by Article XVII of the Treaty and called for in the CSCE Open Skies Declaration of 24 March 1992.
18. We welcome the consolidation by CIS states of former Soviet tactical weapons in Russia, the adherence to the START Treaty by Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine, and the commit- ments by those three states to eliminate all nuclear weapons on their territories. We urge the earliest possible ratification of the START Treaty in conformity with the Lisbon Protocol by those State Parties having not yet done so. We reiterate our expectation that Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine will take rapid steps to fulfil their repeated commitments to accede to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as non-nuclear weapon states. Failure to do so would be a cause of serious concern. We also renew our call upon them to expedite the elimination from their territories of nuclear weapons as agreed. We welcome all agreements concluded by Allies with Russia to facilitate the rapid, safe and secure elimination of former Soviet nuclear weapons. Allies underline their continuing readiness to support this process of elimination and to consult on the matter in the Alliance.
19. We welcome the agreement last June between the United States and Russia to reduce their nuclear forces substantially below START levels, and in particular the decision to eliminate all multiple-warhead land-based strategic missiles.
20. We welcome the successful achievement of a draft Chemical Weapons Convention. We look forward to becoming original signatories of the Convention, and commit ourselves to its early ratification. We call on all other states to do likewise.
21. We remain fully committed to ongoing efforts to prevent proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and related technologies, as well as illegal arms transfers.We urge all countries that have not yet done so, particularly those located in regions where the risks of the proliferation of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons as well as the acquisition of relevant technology have increased alarmingly in recent years, to become parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Biological Weapons Convention, and to commit themselves to signing and ratifying the Chemical Weapons Convention as soon as possible. Strict compliance with these accords is essential. We reaffirm our support for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and for its indefinite extension in 1995. We urge transparency and restraint in the field of conventional arms transfers. We support the newly established UN Register of Conventional Arms and urge all UN member states to provide by next April all required data in order to enable this Register to be fully operational and effective.
22. We were honoured by the presence of Minister Pierre Harmel at our meeting. Despite all that has been accomplished in recent years, we have not yet achieved the just and lasting peaceful order in Europe which the Harmel Report laid down as the goal of our Alliance. We had hoped that conflict and cruelty might be banished from the continent. In the face of the new challenges, that hope remains, and we will strive to our utmost to realise it. The North Atlantic Alliance will continue to make an essential contribution to securing peace and stability.
23. We have asked the Secretary General, Mr. Manfred Woerner, to remain in office until 30 June 1996, and noted with pleasure his acceptance.
24. The Spring 1993 meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Ministerial session will be held in Athens in June.