29 May 1997

Logo Sintra

Final Communiqu

Ministerial Meeting
of the North Atlantic Council
in Sintra, Portugal - 29 May 1997

  1. We have met in Sintra today to carry forward the Alliance's ongoing process of internal and external adaptation, and to prepare the major decisions our Heads of State and Government will take at their Summit meeting on 8th-9th July in Madrid. This Summit will shape the new NATO as a foundation for the development of a truly cooperative European security structure as we move towards the 21st century. Allied solidarity and cohesion as reflected in the core functions, including our common commitment to collective defence, and a strong transatlantic partnership will remain the backbone of the Alliance's success in this endeavour.

  2. We are determined to raise to a qualitatively new level our political and military cooperation with our Partners, building upon the success of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC) and the Partnership for Peace (PfP). We have therefore decided to propose to our Partners to launch together at tomorrow's NACC meeting the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC), the framework of which we have developed with Partners over the last months. During the past five years, the NACC has served as a key forum for bringing Europe together. The EAPC, in replacing the NACC, will unite the positive experience of NACC and PfP by providing the overarching framework for political and security-related consultations and for enhanced cooperation under PfP, whose basic elements will remain valid. We are looking forward to tomorrow's first meeting with our Partners in the EAPC.

    We are pleased with the dynamic and successful development of the Partnership for Peace with 27 countries. The Partnership has brought us closer together in a new spirit of common commitment to Euro-Atlantic security and has enabled Partners to participate rapidly and successfully in our broad coalition for peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We have therefore decided to substantively enhance the Partnership for Peace and to develop ever-closer and deeper cooperative ties with all interested Partner countries. We have endorsed today a number of additional measures to strengthen political consultation with the Alliance, increase the Partners' involvement in PfP decision-making and planning, and make PfP more operational. This will allow Partner countries to draw closer to the Alliance.

  3. We are particularly pleased that on 27th May in Paris our Heads of State and Government and Secretary General Solana signed with President Yeltsin the Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation. This marks the beginning of a new strong, stable and enduring partnership which will be of vital importance for European security. We are committed to make the Permanent Joint Council a forum for consultation and cooperation for the benefit of stability in the whole of Europe. The activities of the Council will be built upon the principles of reciprocity, transparency and full respect for the interests of other states. We commend the Secretary General and his staff for having achieved this historic agreement for the Alliance.

  4. We are satisfied that the preparations for decisions of the Madrid Summit on inviting new members into our Alliance are well on track. We noted a report by the Secretary General reflecting the results of the latest round of the intensified dialogue with interested Partner countries and of the analysis of relevant factors associated with the admission of new members; the necessary adaptation of Alliance structures to integrate new members into the Alliance; and a plan and timetable for the accession talks. These preparations will allow in the weeks to come the formulation of the comprehensive recommendations which we requested at our last meeting. The admission of new members, which will enhance our common security, will involve the Alliance providing the resources which enlargement will necessarily require. We also recommend to our Heads of State and Government to make explicit our commitment that the Alliance remains open to the accession of any other European state able and willing to further the principles of the Washington Treaty and to contribute to our common security. We therefore recommend to our Heads of State and Government that the Madrid Summit should give substance to this commitment.

  5. We welcome today's initialling of the Charter on a Distinctive Partnership between NATO and Ukraine and look forward to its signature at the Summit in Madrid. The maintenance of Ukraine's independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty is a crucial factor for stability and security in Europe. We continue to support Ukraine as it develops as a democratic nation and a market economy. We also welcome the opening of the NATO Information Office in Kyiv earlier this month as an important step in further enhancing our relations with Ukraine.

  6. We attach great importance to security and stability in the Mediterranean region. We are pleased with the development of the dialogue between NATO and a number of countries of the region. We want to further enhance this dialogue and improve its overall political visibility as an effort of confidence-building and cooperation that contributes to stability. To this end, we have today agreed a number of measures on the implementation and scope for further development of this dialogue. We have decided to recommend to our Heads of State and Government to formally establish under the authority of the Council a new committee having the overall responsibility for the Mediterranean dialogue.

  7. We welcome the progress made on the Alliance's internal adaptation, guided by the fundamental objectives of ensuring its military effectiveness, preserving the transatlantic link and building the European Security and Defence Identity (ESDI) within the Alliance. We note the progress made on the Long-Term Study on the development of the Alliance's future command structure, underscore the importance of solutions of outstanding issues, and stress the desirability of further developments so that appropriate recommendations for decisions can be submitted to the Madrid Summit in the interest of a timely and successful completion of a new command structure. We note with satisfaction the progress made in implementing the Combined Joint Task Forces (CJTF) concept.

    We welcome the substantial progress achieved in the development of the ESDI within the Alliance. We have approved a consolidated interim report, and we direct that further work be pursued vigorously with a view to submitting to our Heads of State and Government in Madrid recommendations for decisions necessary for the successful completion of the internal adaptation of the Alliance.

  8. We welcome agreement reached recently in the WEU on the participation of all European Allies, if they were so to choose, in WEU operations using NATO assets and capabilities, as well as in planning and preparing of such operations; and on involvement, to the fullest extent possible and in accordance with their status, of Observers in the follow-up, within the WEU, of our meetings of Berlin and Brussels. We note that the basis has therefore been established for the implementation of Ministerial decisions, for the strengthening of NATO-WEU working relations and, in this framework, for the development of the ESDI with the full participation of all European Allies. This will, together with decisions taken at the meeting of the WEU Council of Ministers in Paris on 13th May 1997, contribute to setting the groundwork for possible WEU-led operations with the support of Alliance assets and capabilities.

  9. The Alliance's Strategic Concept, adopted by our Heads of State and Government at their meeting in Rome in 1991, sets out the principal aims and objectives of the Alliance. Recognising the changes in the strategic environment since 1991, the Alliance has already decided to examine the Strategic Concept to ensure that it is fully consistent with Europe's new security situation and challenges. We recommend to our Heads of State and Government at their Madrid Summit to decide the way ahead.

  10. We commend the officers and soldiers participating in the Stabilisation Force (SFOR) in Bosnia and Herzegovina for their continued successful contribution to peace in that country.

    We recognise that important and demonstrable progress has been made in the overall effort to implement the Peace Agreement since we last met. Municipal elections are scheduled, the sensitive Brcko decision is being implemented, and there have been positive developments in the initiation of joint institutions, the return of refugees and displaced persons, and in economic reconstruction. We are greatly encouraged by the effective cooperation between SFOR and the High Representative and the international organisations and agencies.

    Nevertheless, significant challenges remain, and the failure of all the parties to the Peace Agreement to comply fully with their commitments cannot be tolerated. Reaffirming our commitment to the full implementation of the Peace Agreement, we express our serious concern at the lack of determination by the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to honour their obligations and strongly urge them:

    • to establish functioning central institutions;

    • to ensure freedom of movement, freedom of communication and freedom of the press;

    • to respect human rights, the rule of law and the right of all refugees and displaced persons to return freely;

    • to cooperate fully with the international community in preparing, conducting and implementing the municipal elections;

    • to cooperate with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague in the apprehension and bringing to justice of war criminals;

    • to implement fully the provisions of the arms control agreement;

    • to adopt and implement the economic measures needed for the functioning of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a single state; and

    • to develop democratic, restructured police forces.

    We continue to monitor closely the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and look forward to the six-month review of SFOR's work in June. We also look forward to the results of tomorrow's Ministerial meeting of the Peace Implementation Council Steering Board.

  11. We welcome the initiatives taken in Albania by the OSCE as the coordinating framework for international assistance, as well as by the EU and the WEU. We commend the Italian-led Multinational Protection Force with the participation of several Allies and Partners which is contributing to creating a secure environment for these initiatives for the re-establishment of peace and order in that country. The elections to be held on 29th June 1997 are an essential step in the process of national reconciliation, and we call on all parties to engage in a constructive dialogue on future democratic reforms in Albania.

  12. We welcome entry into force of the CFE Flank Agreement on 15th May 1997. This step underscores the commitment of all States Parties to retain the regional stability ensured by the provisions of the Flank Agreement for the long term in an adapted treaty. We note the progress that has been made toward a Framework Agreement on CFE adaptation and look forward to completion of that task as soon as possible. To this end, we have proposed in Vienna in February 1997 a revised treaty structure of national and territorial ceilings, together with other measures to strengthen overall and regional stability and security throughout Europe. We underline the commitment of all members of the Alliance to the process of adapting the CFE Treaty to a changing security environment, a process which should enhance the security of all States Parties and ensure that the Treaty continues to serve as a cornerstone of European security in the decades to come.

  13. We noted with satisfaction the progress report of the Joint Committee on Proliferation (JCP) regarding the activities of the Senior Political-Military Group on Proliferation and the Senior Defence Group on Proliferation. We note the Policy Guidelines for Military Operations in a NBC Weapons Environment developed by the Senior Defence Group on Proliferation. We direct the JCP to continue its vital work. We reaffirm that these political and defence efforts against proliferation remain an integral part of adaptation to the new security environment and welcome further consultations and cooperation with Partner countries to address the common security risks posed by proliferation.

  14. We welcome the agreement reached between Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin at Helsinki to reduce strategic nuclear warheads to a level of 2000-2500 in a START III Treaty. We urge the Russian Federation to ratify the START II Treaty promptly so that the negotiations on START III may begin.

  15. We are pleased that the Chemical Weapons Convention has entered into force and strongly advocate its full and effective implementation. We call on all states which have not yet signed and ratified the Convention to do so at the earliest possible date.

  16. We express our deep appreciation to the Government of Portugal for hosting this meeting.

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