held at
10 Dec 1996


Final Communiqué

Issued at the Ministerial Meeting
of the North Atlantic Council

  1. As we look ahead, the new NATO is taking shape, reflecting the fundamental changes in the security environment in Europe and the enduring vitality of the transatlantic partnership which underpins our endeavours. The broad vision of this new NATO and its role in the development of a new European security architecture was set out at the 1994 Brussels Summit and further defined at our last meeting in Berlin. The Alliances adaptation and reform is well underway. We will take this process forward today.

    The Alliance is resolved to preserve its political and military strength, ensuring its ability to carry out the full range of its missions - as IFOR and its planned successor SFOR in Bosnia and Herzegovina clearly show. We have issued a separate statement in this regard. The Alliance will continue to strengthen European security by maintaining its capability for collective defence, admitting new members, expanding and strengthening cooperative relationships with all Partners, including building a strong security partnership with Russia and a distinctive relationship with Ukraine, and realising the European Security and Defence Identity within the Alliance.

    The evolution of the Alliance takes place in the context of our aim to help build a truly cooperative European security structure. We welcome as a contribution the important decisions taken at the recent OSCE Summit in Lisbon and the decision by the States Parties to the CFE Treaty to begin negotiations in early 1997 with a view towards adapting the Treaty to the changing security environment in Europe.

  2. Against this background, we have decided to recommend to our Heads of State and Government to convene a Summit meeting in Madrid on 8/9 July 1997 to set the course for the Alliance as it moves towards the 21st century, consolidating Euro-Atlantic security. To achieve this aim, major decisions will have to be taken by the time of the Summit concerning NATOs internal adaptation, the opening of the Alliance and its ability to carry out all its new roles and missions. The agenda for our Summit will include:

    • agreeing a new command structure, which enables all Allies to participate fully, and further advancing the implementation of the Combined Joint Task Forces (CJTF) concept, in order to enhance the Alliance's ability to carry out the full range of its missions, while preserving the capability for collective defence, based on a strong transatlantic partnership;

    • finalising, to the satisfaction of all Allies, all the necessary arrangements for the European Security and Defence Identity (ESDI) within NATO, which will allow for the preparation and conduct of WEU-led operations with the participation of all European Allies if they were so to choose;

    • inviting one or more of the countries which have expressed interest in joining the Alliance to begin accession negotiations;

    • pledging that the Alliance will remain open to the accession of further members and will remain ready to pursue consultations with nations seeking NATO membership, as it has done in the past;

    • strengthening cooperative relations with all our Partners including through an enhanced Partnership for Peace (PfP) and the initiative to establish an Atlantic Partnership Council;

    • intensifying and consolidating relations with Russia beyond the Partnership for Peace by aiming at reaching an agreement at the earliest possible date on the development of a strong, stable and enduring security partnership;

    • further developing an enhanced relationship with Ukraine;

    • enhancing our Mediterranean dialogue;

    • further developing our ability to carry out new roles and missions relating to conflict prevention and crisis management; and

    • further enhancing our political and defence efforts against the proliferation of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and their delivery means.

  3. We warmly welcome the decision of the Government of Spain, endorsed by the Spanish Parliament on 14 November 1996, to take the necessary steps to participate in the Alliance's new structure. Spains participation will further strengthen the cohesion and military effectiveness of the Alliance, as it takes on new roles and missions, reinforce the transatlantic link and help develop ESDI within the Alliance.

  4. Stability and security in the whole Euro-Atlantic area are our primary goal. We want to help build cooperative European security structures which extend to countries throughout the whole of Europe without excluding anyone or creating dividing lines. Recent decisions at the OSCE Summit meeting in Lisbon on European security cooperation and the decision to adapt the CFE Treaty to the new European security environment establish a cooperative foundation for our common security. The Alliance, for its part, has developed a broad pattern of intensive cooperation with North Atlantic Cooperation Council(NACC) and PfP Partner countries and with other international organisations and is thereby contributing to security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area. With the same aim, we are now working towards opening the Alliance to new members; developing ever-closer and deeper cooperative ties with all Partner countries who so wish; building a strong, stable and enduring security partnership with Russia; strengthening our relationship with Ukraine; and enhancing our Mediterranean dialogue.

  5. We reaffirm that the nuclear forces of the Allies continue to play a unique and essential role in the Alliances strategy of war prevention. New members, who will be full members of the Alliance in all respects, will be expected to support the concept of deterrence and the essential role nuclear weapons play in the Alliances strategy. Enlarging the Alliance will not require a change in NATOs current nuclear posture and therefore, NATO countries have no intention, no plan, and no reason to deploy nuclear weapons on the territory of new members nor any need to change any aspect of NATOs nuclear posture or nuclear policy - and we do not foresee any future need to do so.

  6. A number of countries have long-standing aspirations to become full members of our Alliance and have undertaken intensive and wide-ranging preparations and reforms with this aim in mind. We are now in a position to recommend to our Heads of State and Government to invite at next year's Summit meeting one or more countries which have participated in the intensified dialogue process, to start accession negotiations with the Alliance. Our goal is to welcome the new member(s) by the time of NATO's 50th anniversary in 1999. We pledge that the Alliance will remain open to the accession of further members in accordance with Article 10 of the Washington Treaty. We will remain ready to pursue consultations with nations seeking NATO membership, as we have done in the past.

    We are satisfied with the intensified, individual dialogue which the Alliance has been conducting throughout this year with interested Partners. This dialogue has improved their understanding of specific and practical details of how the Alliance works. It has provided the Alliance in turn with a better understanding of where these countries stand in their internal development as well as in the resolution of any external issues with neighbouring countries. We have tasked the Council in Permanent Session to prepare comprehensive recommendations for decisions to be taken by the Summit on which country or countries to invite to begin accession negotiations. The process should include:

    • an intensified dialogue with interested Partner countries including in a "16+1" format, as appropriate;

    • analysis, on the basis of further political guidance to be elaborated by the Council in Permanent Session, of the relevant factors associated with the admission of potential new members;

    • preparation of recommendations on the adaptation of Alliance structures necessary to integrate new members into the Alliance;

    • preparation of a plan for conducting the accession talks with one or more new members.

  7. We look forward to tomorrow's meeting of the NACC, which will mark its fifth anniversary. The NACC has provided us over the years with a valued opportunity to consult regularly with our Partners on political and security issues. Through NACC and Partnership for Peace, we have achieved the development of common approaches to European security and brought the NACC countries closer together in a spirit of cooperation and a common commitment to European security. We are committed to ensuring that the NACC goals of enhancing transparency and confidence in security matters among member states remain central to future cooperation. In order to derive maximum benefit from our NACC meetings, we want to move towards further deepening our political dialogue and giving it more focus.

  8. We are pleased with the dynamic development of Partnership for Peace and the role it plays in building European security cooperation. The Partnership for Peace will continue as a permanent element of the Alliances cooperative effort to contribute to the development of a more stable European security area and, with those Partners seeking to join NATO, will also facilitate their preparations to meet the responsibilities of membership in the Alliance. Substantial progress has been achieved in enhancing the scope and substance of our Partnership cooperation, in particular the growing range of exercises, the broadening and deepening of the PfP Planning and Review Process, the intensification of work on civil-military relations, and civil emergency planning and disaster relief. In the current IFOR operation, in which 13 Partner countries are cooperating with Alliance armed forces, the Partnership for Peace has proved its value with regard both to political commitment to joint crisis management and to military interoperability.

    We want to develop on the basis of transparency ever-closer and deeper cooperative ties open to all Partner countries by making the Partnership more operational; strengthening its political consultation element, taking full account of the respective activities of the OSCE and the relevant European institutions such as the WEU and the EU; and involving Partners more in operations planning and Partnership decision-making. To this end, the Alliance has set up a Senior Level Group to develop by the time of the Summit meeting a clearly strengthened and thus more attractive Partnership for Peace. We have received an interim report on the ongoing work and agree that work should begin without delay to implement its recommendations. These include:

    • enhancing the political dimension of the Partnership through increasing opportunities for political consultations;

    • expanding the agreed fields of military missions within PfP to the full range of the Alliance's new missions, as appropriate, including Peace Support operations over and above previously agreed areas;

    • broadening the NATO/PfP exercise programme in accordance with the expanded scope of the Partnership;

    • enabling Partner countries to participate in the planning and execution of PfP activities (exercises and operations);

    • involving Partners more substantively and actively in PfP-related parts of the regular peacetime work of NATO's Military Authorities;

    • affording the appropriate opportunity to Partners who join future NATO-led PfP operations to contribute to the provision of political guidance for oversight over such operations, drawing on the experience gained in Operation Joint Endeavour;

    • examining, together with Partners, the possible modalities for the elaboration of a political-military framework for PfP operations, building on the current work of the Political-Military Steering Committee;

    • enhancing Partner participation in decision-making for PfP programmes issues;

    • increasing regional cooperation within the Partnership provided it remains open to all Partners and remains an integral part of the overall PfP;

    • expanding the Planning and Review Process; and

    • as soon as the Brussels Agreement on the Status of Missions and Representatives of Third States to NATO comes into force, offering Partners the opportunity to establish diplomatic missions with NATO.

    We have tasked the Council in Permanent Session to ensure implementation of these recommendations without delay and to continue the work on the enhancement of Partnership for Peace and also to review its common funding and resource implications, with a view to providing a further report by the SLG with recommendations for decisions at the time of the Spring Ministerial meeting.

  9. With the rapid growth of our activities under both NACC and PfP, we have identified a need for greater coherence in our cooperation in a framework which will establish with Partners a more meaningful and productive cooperative and consultative process, building on the elements of NACC and PfP which we and our Partners deem most valuable. To this end, we have agreed to work with Partners on the initiative to establish an Atlantic Partnership Council (APC) as a single new cooperative mechanism, which would form a framework for enhanced efforts in both practical cooperation under PfP and an expanded political dimension of Partnership. We have accordingly tasked the Council in Permanent Session to draw up the modalities for such a council, in close coordination with Partners, by the time of our next meeting.

  10. We affirm our support for the political and economic reform process in the Russian Federation. We welcome the landmark Presidential elections in Russia. We applaud the progress toward a lasting, peaceful settlement of the conflict in Chechnya.

    A broad process of integration and cooperation is underway in Europe; Russia is a part of it through its membership in the OSCE and the Council of Europe and its relationship with NATO as well as the European Union and the WEU. The pattern of consultations anchored by our regular "16+1" discussions, provide a firm foundation on which to build. We welcome Russias participation in Partnership for Peace and encourage it to take full advantage of the opportunities which the Partnership offers.

    We value the close and effective cooperation between Russia and NATO in IFOR. This cooperation demonstrates that NATO and Russia can collaborate effectively in the construction of cooperative security structures in Europe. We appreciate and welcome Russias readiness to contribute to a follow-on operation to consolidate peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We look forward to continuing the experience of working closely together, which we believe will have a lasting, positive impact on our relationship.

    Today, we reiterate our commitment to a strong, stable, and enduring security partnership between NATO and Russia. This partnership demonstrates that European security has entered a fundamentally new, more promising era. It constitutes an important element of the developing European cooperative security architecture to which Russia has an essential contribution to make. It will further enhance stability and security in the Euro-Atlantic area. By the time of the Summit, we aim to reach agreement with the Russian Federation on arrangements that can deepen and widen the scope of our current relationship and provide a framework for its future development. We want to ensure that NATO and Russia have a strong, flexible means to consult and cooperate as part of our evolving relationship. Agreement might be expressed in a document or could take the form of a Charter, which could encompass:

    • the shared principles that will form the basis of our relationship;

    • a broad set of areas of practical cooperation in particular in the political, military, economic, environmental, scientific, peacekeeping, armaments, non-proliferation, arms control and civil emergency planning fields;

    • mechanisms for regular and ad hoc consultations; and

    • mechanisms for military liaison and cooperation.

    We therefore task the Council in Permanent Session to develop further guidance on these matters on the basis of which the Secretary General could explore with Russia the possibility of such agreement.

  11. We continue to support Ukraine as it develops as a democratic nation and a market economy. The maintenance of Ukraines independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty is a crucial factor for stability and security in Europe.

    Ukraines development of a strong, enduring relationship with NATO is an important aspect of the emerging European security architecture. We greatly value the active participation of Ukraine in the Partnership for Peace and look forward to next years exercise near Lviv. We also value Ukraines cooperation with European institutions such as the EU and the WEU. Ukraine has made an important contribution to IFOR and UNTAES, and we welcome its commitment to contribute to a follow-on operation to consolidate peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

    We welcome the continued development of our broad cooperation beyond PfP. We note with satisfaction the recent meeting between the Alliance and Ukraine on issues related to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. We welcome the progress made towards establishing a NATO information office in Kyiv, and look forward to its opening in the near future. We welcome Ukraines active interest in further enhancing its relations with the Alliance. We are committed to the development in coming months, through high level and other consultations, of a distinctive and effective NATO-Ukraine relationship, which could be formalised, possibly by the time of the Summit, building on the document on enhanced NATO-Ukraine relations agreed in September 1995, and taking into account recent Ukrainian proposals.

  12. We support the Middle East peace process, and urge all participants to remain firmly committed to it.

    We reaffirm our conviction that security in Europe is closely linked with security and stability in the Mediterranean, and that the Mediterranean dimension is consequently one of the various components of the European security architecture. In this regard, as part of the adaptation of the Alliance, we will work towards enhancing our relations with non-NATO Mediterranean countries through our dialogue.

    The dialogue complements other international efforts, such as those undertaken by the Barcelona process, the OSCE and the WEU without creating any division of labour. We welcome the report of the Council in Permanent Session on the progress of and recommendations for future steps to develop the dialogue with Mediterranean countries through political dialogue and other activities agreed by the Alliance. Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia have reiterated their interest in the development of our relations. We have decided to enhance our Mediterranean dialogue in a progressive way and have tasked the Council in Permanent Session to report at our next meeting on the implementation of the activities foreseen in the report as well as on the scope for further development.

  13. We are carrying forward the process of the Alliance's internal adaptation, with the fundamental objectives of ensuring the Alliance's military effectiveness, maintaining the transatlantic link, and developing the ESDI within NATO. In keeping with the decisions taken by NATO Heads of State and Government at the 1994 Summit Meeting and by the Ministerial meetings in June this year in Berlin and Brussels and with a view to preparing for the Summit next year, our primary focus has been on three closely linked issues: the development of a new command structure for the Alliance; the implementation of the CJTF concept; and the development of the ESDI within NATO.

  14. We welcome the progress made in the development of the future command structure, noting that two structural alternatives have been selected by the Military Committee for future assessment and subsequent political consideration and agree the proposed way ahead. We urge the Council in Permanent Session and the Military Committee to complete the work as quickly as possible. Once approved, this new command structure will help ensure the Alliances military effectiveness so that it is able, in the changing security environment facing Europe, to perform its traditional mission of collective defence and through flexible and agreed procedures to undertake new roles in changing circumstances and to provide for increased participation by Partner countries. It will constitute a renovated, single multinational command structure, reflecting the strategic situation in Europe and enabling all Allies to participate fully.

  15. We welcome the progress made towards realising the CJTF concept, on the basis of the Overall Politico-Military Framework approved by us last June. We direct the Council in Permanent Session and the NATO Military Authorities to pursue vigorously their work on this concept, bearing in mind its importance for future Alliance operations, including the possible involvement of nations outside the Alliance, as well as for the development of ESDI.

  16. We are pleased with the progress made in developing the appropriate arrangements for ESDI within NATO, as decided at the Brussels Summit and at our meeting last June in Berlin. The newly created Policy Coordination Group has contributed significantly to this process.

  17. We note in particular the steps taken towards implementing the concept of separable but not separate capabilities:

    • the decisions of the Council in Permanent Session on political guidance concerning the elaboration of European command arrangements within NATO able to prepare and conduct WEU-led operations;

    • the decisions of the Council in Permanent Session regarding the arrangements for identifying NATO capabilities and assets which might be made available to the WEU for a WEU-led operation;

    • the progress to date on arrangements for the release, monitoring and return or recall of Alliance assets and capabilities;

    • the decision of the Council in Permanent Session with respect to modalities of cooperation with the WEU;

    • the progress on work regarding planning and conducting exercising for WEU-led operations, following receipt of illustrative profiles for WEU missions.

  18. We have directed the Council in Permanent Session to submit to the Spring 1997 Ministerial meetings a report on the adaptation of Alliance structures and procedures related to the future command structure, on the implementation of the CJTF concept, and on further progress with recommendations for decisions in the development of ESDI within the Alliance.

  19. We welcome the close and intensifying cooperation between NATO and the WEU. At their meeting in Ostend on 19 November 1996, WEU Ministers agreed that it would be valuable for WEU to become actively involved in the Alliances defence planning process and expressed their readiness to participate. Early agreement is now being sought in the WEU on the participation of all European Allies in WEU-led operations using NATO assets and capabilities, as well as in planning and preparing for such operations. This would be a key contribution to the development of ESDI within the Alliance. We have tasked the Council in Permanent Session to develop the NATO-WEU relationship further in order to ensure effective cooperation in preparing for possible WEU-led operations.

  20. We are pleased with the successful outcome of the OSCE Summit in Lisbon and, in particular, the adoption of a declaration on security as a result of work on a Common and Comprehensive Security Model for the 21st Century. The Lisbon Summit has created a security framework in which all European states can participate on an equal footing. The Security Model adopted in Lisbon is a comprehensive expression of the endeavour to strengthen security and stability. It complements the mutually reinforcing efforts of NATO and other European and transatlantic institutions and organisations. We attach great importance to the role of the OSCE as a primary instrument in preventive diplomacy, conflict prevention, post-conflict rehabilitation and regional security cooperation, as well as to the enhancement of its operational capabilities to carry out these tasks. We believe the OSCE, as the only pan-European security organisation, has an essential role to play in European peace and stability. We are committed to supporting its comprehensive approach to security. The principles and commitments on which the OSCE is built provide the standards for the development of a comprehensive and cooperative European security structure.

    We commend the OSCE for its essential contribution to the implementation of civil aspects of the Peace Agreement for Bosnia and Herzegovina, particularly in supervising the preparation and conduct of the elections, in promoting and monitoring human rights and in overseeing the implementation of agreed confidence - and security - building measures and sub-regional arms control agreements. The OSCE thereby demonstrates its central role in contributing to regional stability and security.

    We are pleased with the support given by IFOR to the OSCE in carrying out its tasks. The cooperation between OSCE and IFOR is a good example of our concept of mutually reinforcing organisations. The practical assistance given by NATO to the OSCE in helping to establish measures to verify the confidence-building and arms control agreements of the Dayton Accords testifies to a growing cooperation between NATO and the OSCE. We reiterate our readiness to further develop the cooperation between the two organisations.

    The democratic and economic development, independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states are essential factors for stability and security in the Euro-Atlantic area. We commend the OSCE for its mediation efforts in a number of regional conflicts through its various missions, and recognise the valuable work of the High Commissioner on National Minorities. We support the efforts of the Minsk Group to achieve a political settlement of the conflict in and around Nagorno-Karabakh.

    The OSCE acquis in the field of disarmament, arms control, and confidence- and security-building measures continues to contribute significantly to political and military stability. We consider the full implementation, the further development, and if necessary, the adaptation of these measures to be indispensable elements in our effort to further enhance the European security architecture. We welcome the recent adoption by the Forum for Security Cooperation of the Framework for Arms Control and its Future Agenda.

  21. The CFE Treaty is a fundamental cornerstone of security and stability for all in the Euro-Atlantic area. We are committed to maintain and strengthen it. Consistent with our broader goal of enhancing political cooperation and military stability in a Europe without dividing lines, we welcome the decision of the 30 States Parties to the CFE Treaty on 1 December 1996 in Lisbon to launch negotiations to adapt the Treaty to the changing security environment in Europe. We look forward to beginning negotiations in the Joint Consultative Group in Vienna in January 1997 on the basis of the scope and parameters (Terms of Reference) document agreed in Lisbon.

    Our common goal is to enhance security for all States Parties, irrespective of whether they belong to an alliance, and preserve their right to choose and change their security arrangements. Within the broader political context of enhanced security for all, this process should strengthen the cooperative pattern of relationships between States Parties, based on mutual confidence, transparency, stability and predictability. Committed, like the other States Parties, to adapting the Treaty by developing mechanisms which will enhance the Treaty's viability and effectiveness, we will pursue steps to review the Treaty's group structure, to adapt the Treaty system of limitations and to enhance its verification and information provisions. To that end, the members of the Alliance will develop and table proposals for the negotiations in Vienna.

    We reaffirm our support for the CFE Flank Agreement, reached at this year's Review Conference in Vienna. We urge all States Parties who have not yet done so to approve this Agreement before the end of the extended provisional application period.

    We will play our full part in the intensive continuing efforts directed at resolving outstanding implementation issues.

    The members of the Alliance reaffirm the commitment made at Lisbon to exercise restraint during the period of negotiations as foreseen in the document in relation to the current postures and capabilities of their conventional armed forces - in particular, with respect to their levels of forces and deployments - in the Treatys area of application. As decided in Lisbon, this commitment is without prejudice to the outcome of the negotiations, or to voluntary decisions by the individual States Parties to reduce their force levels or deployments, or to their legitimate security interests. We believe that the CFE Treaty must continue to play a key role in ensuring military stability into the 21st century, and are committed to adapting it expeditiously in order to take account of new security challenges.

  22. We emphasise the importance of the START Treaties for international stability and security. We note with satisfaction the progress made by the United States and the Russian Federation in the implementation of START I. We urge the Russian Federation to follow the United States in ratifying the START II Treaty. We welcome the successful conclusion and signing by the great majority of UN members of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and we urge all other nations to sign this important international arms control agreement. We look forward to the early start of negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty.

    We are pleased that the Chemical Weapons Convention will soon enter into force and we look forward to its early implementation. We welcome the fact that States Parties to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention have at the Fourth Review Conference in Geneva in December 1996 again solemnly declared their recognition that effective verification could reinforce the Convention.

    Recognising the heightened concern of the international community of the suffering and casualties caused by anti-personnel mines, we support the vigorous pursuit of an effective, legally binding international agreement to ban the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of antipersonnel mines and, as an important step to this end, support the early ratification of the revised Second Protocol of the Convention on Inhumane Weapons.

    We urge the early ratification of the Treaty on Open Skies by those states which have not already ratified.

  23. Proliferation of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and their delivery means continues to be a matter of serious concern to us. Progress in expanding and intensifying NATOs political and defence efforts against proliferation, as directed by NATO Heads of State and Government in January 1994, is an integral part of NATOs adaptation to the new security environment. These efforts also contribute to NATOs ability to conduct new roles and missions. We remain committed to preventing proliferation in the first place, or, if it occurs, to reversing it through diplomatic means. The Alliance is improving its capabilities to address the risks posed by proliferation. We welcome further consultations and cooperation with Partner countries to address the common security risks posed by proliferation. We note with satisfaction the report of the Alliances Joint Committee on Proliferation on the activities of the Senior Political-Military Group on Proliferation and the Senior Defence Group on Proliferation and direct them to continue their vital efforts.

    We attach particular importance to a solid preparation of the first preparatory committee of the strengthened review process of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), scheduled for April 1997. This process will significantly contribute to the further strengthening of the NPT, which is the cornerstone of the global non-proliferation system.

  24. We reaffirm our commitment to the Alliance's common-funded programmes.

    We note with appreciation the progress made in moving existing resources to the highest priority programmes, such as Partnership for Peace and the support of enhanced information activities in Moscow and Kyiv. We have directed the Council in Permanent Session to keep under review the allocation of resources in order to ensure their optimal use. We have also directed the Council in Permanent Session to identify the implications of adaptation for NATOs common-funded budgets and to make appropriate recommendations for dealing with these.

  25. We continue to support all efforts to combat terrorism, which constitutes a serious threat to peace, security and stability.

  26. The Spring 1997 meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Ministerial Session will be held in Sintra, Portugal, on 29 May.

 [ Go to Press Releases ]  [ Go to Homepage ]