Updated: 31-Oct-2000 Ministerial Communiqus


at the Meeting
of Defence

29 Mar. 1993


  1. We, NATO Defence Ministers and Representatives of Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom, the United States, and the Defence Ministers and Representatives of Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia and Ukraine met today in Brussels to review the progress made in dialogue, co-operation and partnership in defence-related matters. We also used this occasion to have a wide-ranging exchange of views on broader security issues and challenges.

  2. We continue to be deeply disturbed by the situation in the former Yugoslavia, particularly in Bosnia Hercegovina, which despite hopes of progress in the peace negotiations, remains a serious threat to security and stability. We reiterated our support for UN efforts, to which many of us have contributed, designed to bring the conflict to a halt. In view of the agreement of the other interested parties, we call upon the Bosnian Serb leadership to agree to the peace plan currently under discussion in New York. The situation in the former Yugoslavia, with potential of a spill-over of the war in Bosnia Hercegovina to other areas in the region, is only one example, albeit a very serious one, of crises which concern us all. A number of other conflicts also threaten peace and stability in our area and we therefore urge all parties concerned to settle peacefully their differences.

  3. We welcomed the signature of the START II Treaty by Russia and the United States as a major step towards drastic reductions in strategic nuclear forces. We reaffirmed our support for the START I Treaty and the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and welcomed progress towards ratification of START I and the accession of a number of further states to the NPT. We are committed to preventing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and strongly support the indefinite extension of the NPT in 1995. We look forward to the early ratification of START I and accession to the NPT as non-nuclear weapon states by the remaining signatories of the Lisbon Protocol. We note in this connection that the relevant security assurances given by nuclear weapon states parties to the treaty will apply to new non-nuclear weapon states parties. We expressed serious concern over the recent decision of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to withdraw from the NPT and from its safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Prevention of nuclear proliferation is essential for world peace and stability. We attach the greatest importance to maintaining safe and secure control of the nuclear weapons of the former Soviet Union and of the fissile material resulting from the dismantlement of nuclear warheads. In this context we expressed the hope that the bilateral negotiations related to this issue will soon reach a satisfactory conclusion. We also welcomed the signature, by more than 130 nations, of the Chemical Weapons Convention, as a decisive step towards the global elimination of these weapons.We are encouraged by efforts towards increased co-operation in the implementation of the CFE Treaty and the moves towards the formation of joint inspection teams among the signatories and the organisation of joint training programmes for CFE inspectors.

  4. When we met last year, we recognised that we all faced a major task in transforming our military forces following the end of the Cold War. We agreed to intensify dialogue in the defence and military spheres and to establish the basis for mutually beneficial co-operation between us. Much has since been achieved, both in bilateral contacts and within the multilateral framework. Military to military staff talks between NATO's Military Authorities and many partners now take place on a regular basis, and have contributed significantly to improved transparency and mutual understanding. Programmes of co-operation have been agreed between a number of allies and co-operation partners. Even where the process has not reached this formal stage, expert teams have been exchanged, a wide range of seminars and workshops have been held, and places have been made available to partners' countries on both Allied and NATO courses. In February 1993 the Military Committee met for the first time in co-operation session at Military Representative level. The second meeting of the Military Committee in co-operation at Chief of Defence Staff level will be held next month.

  5. The record over the past year has been impressive: several hundred projects have been implemented either by multinational teams or by individual allies. Considerable progress has been made from an initial phase of familiarisation towards a more regular and structured dialogue, and towards increasingly practical co-operation. The primary aim of our meeting this year was to give further impetus to practical co-operation.

  6. Looking to the future, we need to build on the firm basis of understanding that has resulted from the intensified dialogue of the past year. Much work remains to be done and there are many areas where the extensive experience of allies and partners could be better shared. We have therefore agreed a number of measures to make the co-operation process more effective. Particular attention will be devoted to force restructuring, training and education, defence management, defence planning issues, civil-military relations, and the legal framework for armed forces.

  7. We recognise that the demands on the international community to support the maintenance of peace are likely to remain high. As a consequence peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance missions are likely to place additional demands on our military forces. As Defence Ministers we each have a particular responsibility to ensure that our military forces can respond effectively to such contingencies. The ability to act in a co-operative framework is of increasing importance:we believe that co-operation in peacekeeping can bring extensive benefits both in the necessary preparation of our forces for the tasks ahead and in the implementation of these tasks. Some NATO countries and partner countries have already worked fruitfully together under UN auspices. Important progress has been made under the aegis of the North Atlantic Co-operation Council where our countries have agreed a number of measures for practical co-operation in planning and preparation for peacekeeping. As Defence Ministers we shall each ensure that a high priority will be given to this work and that appropriate resources and expertise for such practical co-operation will be made available.

  8. We intend to maintain and increase the momentum of co-operation in the defence-related area in the coming year, building on the approach and arrangements we established last year. Co-operation in defence-related matters is now a firmly rooted part of our relationship and makes a significant contribution to the success of our partnership. It is important in the present circumstances, where regional instabilities and risks have proliferated, that we continue to enhance our ability to work effectively together in the pursuit of our common objectives of strengthening international security and stability. We shall therefore continue the process of dialogue and co-operation with this objective clearly in mind. We shall meet annually in this forum, or more often should the need arise, to review the developing process of co-operation, and other issues of mutual interest.

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