16 Dec. 1997
Ministerial Meeting of the North Atlantic Council
held at NATO Headquarters, Brussels, on 16 December 1997
- Our Heads of State and Government, at their Summit in Madrid on 8th-9th July, took historic decisions to transform the Alliance. We welcome today the substantial progress made by the Alliance in putting into practice that far-reaching vision. In particular:
- we will sign today Protocols of Accession of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland to the North Atlantic Treaty;
- we have endorsed politico-military guidance for the development of options for a future NATO-led military presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina following the end of SFOR's mandate;
- substantial progress has been achieved on the Long Term Study and an agreement has been reached on a new command structure as a whole, and in particular on the type, number and location of headquarters.
- we will cooperate closely with the three invited countries through the coming months, building on the successful accession talks this year, and we will work for the timely ratification of the Protocols of Accession;
- we have completed the initial estimates of the resource implications for accession of the three invitees, and have confirmed that the costs will be manageable;
- we look forward to continuing in January 1998 intensified dialogues with those nations that aspire to NATO membership or that otherwise wish to pursue a dialogue with NATO on membership questions;
- we intend to realise the full potential of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC), which has opened new consultative and cooperative channels with Partners, and of the enhanced Partnership for Peace (PfP) through expanding the scope and range of Partnership activities;
- we will pursue vigorously our consultations and cooperation with Russia under the auspices of the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council, and look forward to the implementation of the 1998 work programme;
- we will carry forward our programme of consultations and cooperation with Ukraine under the new NATO-Ukraine Charter, and will endorse later today with Ukraine a work plan for 1998;
- we have carried out through our Mediterranean Cooperation Group a new round of individual dialogues with our six Mediterranean Dialogue Partners, and established a work programme for cooperation;
- we welcome the substantial progress in our internal adaptation and approve the progress made in the continued successful implementation of the Combined Joint Task Forces concept;
- we note with satisfaction that significant progress has been made on developing the European Security and Defence Identity (ESDI) within the Alliance;
- we will work constructively towards conclusion of the CFE Treaty Adaptation negotiations as expeditiously as possible, aimed at enhancing security and stability, and have introduced proposals to this end.
- Our aim is to reinforce peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area, based on Allied solidarity and cohesion, as reflected in our common commitment to the core function of collective defence, and in the maintenance of a strong transatlantic link, a new cooperative partnership with other Euro-Atlantic nations, building a ESDI within NATO, and the Alliance's effectiveness for the full range of its missions.
- With this aim in view, NATO enlargement is part of a comprehensive process. It includes not only the decision of our Heads of State and Government to invite the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland to begin accession talks with NATO, but also the continued openness of the Alliance to new members under Article 10 of the Washington Treaty; broad cooperation with Partners in the EAPC and the enhanced PfP; a strong, stable and enduring partnership with Russia; a distinctive Partnership with Ukraine; and an enhanced Mediterranean dialogue.
- We received a report by the Secretary General on the successful conclusion of the accession talks with the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland. We will sign later today the Protocols to the North Atlantic Treaty on their accession and look forward to timely ratification of the Protocols of Accession by our respective countries in order to allow the three invited states to accede to the North Atlantic Treaty in time for the Alliance's 50th anniversary in April 1999. We are convinced that the accession of the invitees will contribute to the security and effectiveness of the Alliance. We are pleased by the thorough and detailed preparations undertaken by the three nations for the accession talks. We welcome the confirmation by the invited countries of their willingness to assume the rights and obligations of NATO membership and to meet the associated political commitments. They have confirmed their intention to participate fully in NATO's military structure and collective defence planning and, for the purpose of taking part in the full range of Alliance missions, to commit the bulk of their armed forces to the Alliance. All three fully support the continued openness of the Alliance towards new members, in accordance with Article 10 of the Washington Treaty as further elaborated in Paragraph 8 of the Madrid Summit Declaration.
We will progressively involve the invited countries, to the greatest extent possible and where appropriate, in Alliance activities, to prepare them to undertake the responsibilities and obligations of membership. In this regard, we welcome the proposal to develop a cooperation programme with the invited countries, using Partnership for Peace tools and mechanisms, which is comprehensive and ensures transparency between multilateral and bilateral assistance programmes.
- As reaffirmed by our Heads of State and Government at the Madrid Summit, admitting new members will entail resource implications for the Alliance. We took note of a report on the resource implications of the accession of the three invited states, with particular emphasis on common-funded budgets. It provides an initial assessment of those costs which would be eligible for common funding, amounting to the equivalent of about 1.5 billion US dollars over a period of 10 years, of which 1.3 billion US dollars would be for the NATO Security Investment Programme.
Overall, the analysis of the resource implications of the accession of the three new members has justified the confidence of our Heads of State and Government that, in the present and foreseeable security environment in Europe, Alliance costs associated with the accession of the three invitees will be manageable, and that the resources necessary to meet these costs will be provided. The analysis also concludes that the available and planned military forces and the capabilities of the current Allies and the three invitees are sufficient to ensure fully the collective defence of all members of the enlarged Alliance in the present and foreseeable security environment. We note with satisfaction that the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland will also make valuable contributions to the Alliance's ability to perform the full range of its missions. The newly acceding countries will assume all rights and obligations of membership and are ready to shoulder the resulting burdens. They plan to increase significantly their defence spending and to contribute appropriately to the Alliance's common-funded budgets.
- We remain committed to the ongoing process of enlargement in the terms set out in Paragraph 8 of the Madrid Summit Declaration, in which our Heads of State and Government clearly reaffirmed NATO's open door to new members under Article 10 of the North Atlantic Treaty, and we welcome the valuable efforts by countries which are aspiring members. To that end, we are maintaining our active cooperation with those nations that have expressed their interest in NATO membership as well as those who may seek membership in the future. We will further encourage their active participation in the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and the Partnership for Peace. We will also continue our intensified dialogues with those nations that aspire to NATO membership or otherwise wish to pursue a dialogue on membership questions. In this context we have adopted modalities for the continuation of the intensified dialogues. These dialogues, which have already begun, will cover the full range of political, military, financial and security issues relating to possible NATO membership, without prejudice to any eventual decision. We will keep that process under continual review, looking forward to the review of the enlargement process which will take place at the meeting of our Heads of State and Government in 1999. We direct the Council in Permanent Session to report to us at our Spring Session on the intensified dialogues.
- Decisions taken at the Madrid Summit and the Sintra Ministerials earlier this year created the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) as the overarching framework for expanding the political and security dimensions of our partnership and practical cooperation under the Partnership for Peace. We look forward to tomorrow's meeting with our EAPC counterparts. The EAPC will deepen and focus political and security-related consultations and cooperation, and increase transparency among its 44 member states. For our part, we will continue developing the EAPC as an action-oriented forum with practical, cooperative tasks on its agenda. To this end, we look forward to endorsing with our Partners the EAPC Action Plan for 1998-2000.
- We are pleased with the progress of implementation of the EAPC Basic Document since its adoption in Sintra last May. We welcome the deepening consultations on political and security-related issues, including those in a limited format between the Alliance and open-ended groups of Partners to focus on functional matters or, on an ad hoc basis, on appropriate regional matters. We also note with satisfaction the growing number of cooperative activities under the auspices of the EAPC, which is based on the principles of inclusiveness and self-differentiation, including in the fields of defence economic issues, science, defence-related environmental issues, cooperation in peacekeeping, and civil emergency preparedness. We welcome the establishment by a growing number of Partners of diplomatic missions to NATO under the Brussels Agreement.
- The Partnership for Peace continues to be the focal point of our efforts to build with Partners new patterns of practical cooperation across a wide range of security issues. We are pleased with the progress made since our Sintra meeting last May. We welcome the decisions to establish PfP Staff Elements at the strategic and regional levels of NATO's military command structure and note that Defence Ministers have mandated a report for May 1998 on the possibility of establishing them also at the sub-regional level. We also welcome proposals for the further development of the Planning and Review Process and the establishment of international military posts for Partners at the Partnership Coordination Cell. We note with satisfaction the identification of the first PfP projects to be supported under the NATO Security Investment Programme and the start of work with Partners on the development of a political-military framework for NATO-led PfP operations. We invite all Partner countries to take full advantage of the new possibilities to draw closer to the Alliance through the enhanced PfP.
We look forward to endorsing with our Partners at tomorrow's EAPC meeting the concept to establish a Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre and a Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Unit.
We task the Council in Permanent Session to increase further the effectiveness of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and the enhanced Partnership for Peace, in cooperation with Partners, and to report to us at our next meeting.
- The Partnership for Peace has shown its value in contributing to stability in Europe through the special assistance the Alliance is continuing to provide to Albania, in the context of PfP and drawing on the experience of the Italian-led Multinational Protection Force, in the rebuilding of its national armed forces following the crisis in that country in early 1997. We welcome the voluntary contributions of nations to Albania.
- The signature in Paris last May of the NATO-Russia Founding Act marked the beginning of a fundamentally new relationship between NATO and Russia. We are pleased that consultations in the Permanent Joint Council, created by the Founding Act, are developing into practical cooperation, on the basis of the 1997 work programme which we adopted with Minister Primakov at the first PJC Ministerial meeting last September. Since then, NATO and Russia have made significant progress towards establishing the deeper relationship envisioned in the Founding Act. NATO and Russia have consulted together on many of the issues central to security in the Euro-Atlantic area, including the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and ongoing implementation of the Peace Accords, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and conduct of peacekeeping operations. We are encouraged by the progress made in the working groups on civil emergency planning, peacekeeping, and defence conversion. We welcome the commitment shown by Russia to the broad range of cooperative activities, including the development of an active Individual Partnership Programme in the context of PfP and the appointment of a Russian military representative at NATO Headquarters. This will open a new chapter in NATO-Russia defence-related and military-to-military cooperation.
We therefore look forward tomorrow to our second meeting with the Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation in the framework of the Permanent Joint Council. At that meeting, we expect to adopt a substantive work programme for 1998 that will further deepen our cooperation and strengthen mutual trust. We look forward in particular to enhancing NATO's information efforts in Russia, and we expect to open a NATO Documentation Centre in Moscow, as foreseen in the Founding Act, by 31st January 1998. The timely establishment of military liaison missions at various levels, as foreseen in the Founding Act, will usefully support its objectives. We encourage Russia to play an active role in the EAPC and the enhanced PfP.
The activities of the Permanent Joint Council will build upon the principles of reciprocity and transparency. In opening a new era in European security relations, we are fully committed to working together with Russia to realise the provisions and potential of the Founding Act.
- The Charter on a Distinctive Partnership between NATO and Ukraine, signed at the Madrid Summit by Allied Heads of State and Government and President Kuchma, underscores the Alliance's view that Ukraine has a key role to play in European security. We underline our firm belief that Ukraine's sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, democratic development, economic prosperity and its status as a non-nuclear weapon state are key factors for security and stability in Central and Eastern Europe and on the continent as a whole.
We are committed to launching a rich and varied programme of consultation and practical cooperation with Ukraine. We welcome the substantial progress already made in this regard since the conclusion of the NATO-Ukraine Charter, on the basis of initial elements agreed by the NATO-Ukraine Commission on 10th October 1997. We look forward to the implementation of the NATO-Ukraine work plan for 1998, which we, together with Ukraine's Foreign Minister Udovenko, will endorse later today when the NATO-Ukraine Commission meets for the first time at Ministerial level. We also look forward on this occasion to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on Civil Emergency Planning and Disaster Preparedness between NATO and Ukraine. We will continue to support an active information effort in Ukraine through the NATO Information and Documentation Centre in Kyiv.
We also welcome Ukraine's intention to play an active role within the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and the enhanced PfP. We are working with Ukraine on the development of a more focussed Individual Partnership Programme. We are pleased with the initial steps we have taken with Ukraine to implement this new partnership. We look forward to further progress in 1998 and beyond.
- We continue to give great attention to the Mediterranean region since security in the whole of Europe is closely linked with security and stability in the Mediterranean. NATO's Mediterranean dialogue has continued to develop progressively, and thus contributes to enhancing security and stability in the Mediterranean region. The Mediterranean dialogue is an important component of the Alliance's policy of outreach and cooperation. We welcome the progress made by the Mediterranean Cooperation Group, created at the Madrid Summit, which has the overall responsibility for the Mediterranean dialogue under the authority of the North Atlantic Council, and the expansion of the dialogues with our Mediterranean Partners, including in a 16+1 format. We also welcome the establishment of an appropriately funded work programme for cooperation activities, which will help in building confidence through cooperation on security-related issues, and we task the Council in Permanent Session to provide a progress report next year on its implementation.
- We attach great importance to an early and successful completion of the process of the Alliance's internal adaptation, on the basis of decisions taken in Berlin and Brussels in 1996 and subsequently. The fundamental objectives of this adaptation are to maintain the Alliance's military effectiveness for the full range of its missions including collective defence and its ability to react to a wide range of contingencies, to preserve the transatlantic link, and to develop the European Security and Defence Identity within the Alliance.
We received a comprehensive report describing the progress made since the Madrid Summit in the three main areas: the development of the Alliance's future command structure; the implementation of the Combined Joint Task Forces concept; and the building of the European Security and Defence Identity within the Alliance.
Substantial progress has been achieved on the Long-Term Study and an agreement has been reached on a new command structure as a whole, and in particular on the type, number and location of headquarters. The structure will comprise two Strategic Commands (SC), one for the Atlantic and one for Europe. SC Atlantic will comprise three Regional Commands (RC), RC West (Norfolk), RC East (Northwood) and RC Southeast (Lisbon) as well as STRIKFLTLANT and SUBACLANT, both based at Norfolk. In SC Europe, two RCs are foreseen - RC North(Brunssum) and RC South (Naples). Two component commands (CC) - CC Air (Ramstein) and CC Nav (Northwood) - will report to RC North together with three Joint Sub-Regional Commands (JSRC) - JSRC Centre (Heidelberg), JSRC Northeast (Karup) and JSRC North (Stavanger). RC South will command two CCs - CC Air and CC Nav (both at Naples) - and four JSRCs - JSRC Southeast (Izmir), JSRC Southcentre (Larissa), JSRC South (Verona) and JSRC Southwest (Madrid). Taken together, this will represent a reduction from 65 headquarters at present to 20 in the proposed new command structure. The NATO Military Authorities have been tasked to develop a detailed plan, as proposed by the Military Committee, for the transition to the new command structure, for consideration and endorsement by Ministers next year.
Allies welcome Spain's announcement of its intention to join the Alliance's new military structure and thus to take part in the new command structure on which an agreement has been reached in the terms stated above. Spain's full participation will enhance its overall contribution to the security of the Alliance, help develop the European Security and Defence Identity within NATO and strengthen the transatlantic link.
Implementation of the CJTF concept will enhance the Alliance's ability to plan and conduct quickly and effectively a wide range of military operations employing multinational and multi-service forces capable of being generated and deployed at short notice. We are pleased with the progress made in implementing the CJTF concept, noting that an initial trial has already successfully been conducted.
We note with satisfaction that work on building the ESDI within the Alliance is progressing in close cooperation with the WEU. Important work has been carried out on European command arrangements; on consultation and information-sharing; the development of mechanisms for the identification, release, monitoring and return or recall of NATO assets and capabilities made available for WEU-led operations; on the planning and conduct of WEU-led operations involving the use of such assets and capabilities; the modalities for the WEU's involvement in NATO defence planning; and military planning and exercises for illustrative WEU missions.
We welcome the steady strengthening of cooperative relations between NATO and the WEU, and the successful, ongoing consultation between our two organisations under the aegis of the NATO-WEU Joint Council. We will continue to develop the arrangements and procedures necessary for the planning, preparation, conduct and exercise of WEU-led operations using NATO assets and capabilities. In this context, we welcome the WEU's readiness to consult on and coordinate all ESDI-related work at the earliest possible stage, including through greater use of joint working groups and through the possibility of setting up ad hoc expert working groups on specific topics. In addition we welcome the decisions of the WEU Council of Ministers at Erfurt to improve the WEU's operational capability in relation to crisis management and peacekeeping operations (the Petersberg tasks). We also welcome the results of the WEU Ministerial Council in Erfurt that aim at enhanced forms of cooperation between WEU and NATO, supporting the process of translating the political directives formulated by the respective Ministerial Councils into practical links between both organisations leading in particular to arrangements for WEU-led operations making use of Alliance assets and capabilities.
We task the Council in Permanent Session to pursue further work, as required, on internal adaptation and to report to us at our next meeting.
- The Alliance Strategic Concept, adopted by our Heads of State and Government in Rome in 1991, sets out the principal aims and objectives of the Alliance. As Foreign Ministers, we attach particular importance to the far-reaching, positive political developments which have occurred since 1991 in the security landscape in Europe and to new cooperative security structures which are being built throughout the Euro-Atlantic region. We therefore endorse the terms of reference agreed by the Council in Permanent Session for the examination, and updating as necessary, of the Alliance Strategic Concept, as mandated by our Heads of State and Government in Madrid. This work will confirm our commitment to the core function of Alliance collective defence and the indispensable transatlantic link. We look forward to receiving a progress report at our next meeting on the substantive work, which will begin early in 1998 for presentation to Heads of State and Government at their next Summit meeting in April 1999.
- We reaffirm our commitment to further strengthening the OSCE as a primary instrument for early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation as well as for enhancing cooperative security and advancing democracy and human rights. Examples of the important role the OSCE plays as a regional arrangement under Chapter VIII of the UN Charter are its tasks as a flexible coordinating framework for international assistance in Albania, the mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the efforts of the Minsk Group, and the mission in Croatia which will acquire particular importance in 1998 after the termination of the UNTAES mandate. We are committed to supporting the OSCE's comprehensive approach to security and its work on a Common and Comprehensive Security Model for Europe for the Twenty-First Century, in accordance with the decisions of the 1996 Lisbon Summit, including consideration of developing a Charter on European Security. We welcome the initiative of the Chairman-in-Office to strengthen non-hierarchical cooperation between security institutions which accept and adhere to the principles and commitments contained in the relevant OSCE documents. In this regard, we recall the precepts set out in the Lisbon Document that security organisations as such are transparent and predictable in their actions, whose members individually and collectively adhere to OSCE principles and commitments, and whose membership is based on open and voluntary commitments. We look forward to a productive and successful OSCE Ministerial meeting in Copenhagen later this week.
- NATO remains committed to the full and unconditional implementation of the Peace Agreement in Bosnia and Herzegovina and to the establishment of that country as a single, democratic and multi-ethnic state. We welcome the progress achieved in many areas, including the conduct of elections, the reduction of armaments and the reform and restructuring of police. In addition, many refugees have returned. However, much more could have been achieved had the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina contributed their full share. Peace, and the institutions of civil society to uphold it, remain fragile.
Accordingly, we strongly endorse the conclusions of last week's Peace Implementation Conference (PIC) in Bonn that are intended to achieve further progress in consolidating the peace. We support the High Representative's intention to facilitate implementation of the Peace Agreement by using his authority fully to promote the resolution of difficulties through binding decisions, as he judges necessary, on the issues identified by the Peace Implementation Council. In this context, we also consider it important to achieve early progress on such basic matters as the building of common institutions, the creation of a common currency and common symbols, and the establishment of a uniform vehicle registration system. We confirm that our countries will continue to support those who support implementation of the Peace Agreement, and to oppose those who seek to obstruct the peace process.
NATO contributes to consolidating the peace by organising and leading a Stabilisation Force (SFOR) with the participation of all 16 Allies and 20 non-NATO countries, including Russia and 14 other Partners. At our meeting today, we reviewed the SFOR operation twelve months into its eighteen-month mission. Following consultations last week with the non-NATO contributors, we confirmed that SFOR would continue at its present force levels, subject to prudent adjustments, until otherwise directed. This will allow SFOR to continue its firm and even-handed approach to implementing its mandate and supporting civil implementation. We extend our deep-felt appreciation to the men and women of SFOR for their essential contribution. We express deep sympathy to the families of those who have lost their lives and to those who have been injured in the cause of peace.
To succeed, the Peace Agreement must continue to be implemented in an environment of general security. The PIC recognised and supported the emerging consensus on the need for a military presence to continue beyond June 1998. It was the PIC's judgement that such a force should provide appropriate support to civil implementation while being readily available and effective enough to respond quickly to events on the ground in and across Bosnia and Herzegovina. With this in mind, we have endorsed politico-military guidance to the NATO Military Authorities for the development of options for a NATO-led military presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina following the end of SFOR's mandate. NATO Military Authorities will provide these options to the Council in Permanent Session no later than mid-January 1998 to allow for the early selection of an option, following consultations with non-NATO contributors and a careful assessment of the likely security situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina after SFOR's mandate expires in June 1998.
We welcome the continuing development of the confidence- and security-building measures under Article II of Annex IB of the Peace Agreement and the successful completion of declared reduction liabilities under Article IV of Annex IB. We congratulate the parties on the reduction of almost 6,600 pieces of armament. We underline the importance of starting the Article V process without delay to build on the achievements reached under Article II and IV. Steps in this context should not prejudice the integrity of existing arms control and CSBM agreements. A broad security dialogue would represent a significant element in establishing regional stability.
Securing the peace over the long term will also require further steps to promote confidence and cooperation among the armed forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina and to encourage the development of democratic practices and central defence mechanisms such as the Standing Committee on Military Matters (SCMM). NATO is organising courses for military and civilian defence officials of Bosnia and Herzegovina at the NATO School to promote reconciliation among the formerly warring factions. We have also decided to launch an initial set of security cooperation activities with Bosnia and Herzegovina to include both Entities and all three ethnic groups. These activities, to be coordinated through the SCMM, will include additional courses, seminars and an assessment of how NATO can assist the SCMM in becoming fully effective.
While NATO will do its part to consolidate the peace, ultimately this responsibility rests with the democratically elected officials of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as with the other Parties to the Peace Agreement. We will continue to insist that the Parties to the Peace Agreement comply fully with their commitments, including the transfer of indicted war criminals to The Hague. The results of last month's elections in Republika Srpska show encouraging signs of emerging genuine multi-party politics, which are essential for a strong democracy. We look forward to the early establishment of a new government committed to implementing the Peace Agreement and thereby allowing the people in that part of Bosnia and Herzegovina to benefit more fully from the peace.
We confirm that NATO's interest in stability extends beyond Bosnia and Herzegovina to the surrounding region. We share the concerns expressed at the PIC concerning the escalating ethnic tension in Kosovo and other areas. We call upon those concerned to refrain from activities that might exacerbate existing difficulties and to strive for mutually acceptable solutions through responsible dialogue.
- We share the commitment of all 30 States Parties to continued full implementation of the CFE Treaty, and its associated documents, including the Flank Agreement. We are determined that the adaptation of CFE will strengthen the Treaty's continued key role in the European security architecture and as a cornerstone of European stability and security.
The agreement reached in July 1997 on the Basic Elements of CFE Treaty Adaptation was an important step in the adaptation process. We note with appreciation the substantial progress achieved by the Alliance's High Level Task Force in elaborating the Alliance position on the operation of the future Treaty's system of limitations, appropriate flexibilities and consultative mechanisms, with the aim of enhancing security and stability in Europe. Introduction of Allies' illustrative Territorial Ceilings, together with their underlying rationale, in the Vienna negotiation is a further indication of the importance we attach to progress on CFE adaptation and our determination to work cooperatively with other Treaty Partners. We will work as expeditiously as possible towards the conclusion of the adaptation negotiation as foreseen in the timetable agreed in Lisbon on 1st December 1996. We call on other CFE States Parties to engage actively in the negotiations, including by putting forward proposed equipment ceilings under the adapted Treaty, considering reductions in their entitlements as NATO Allies have already done. We hope that these common efforts will enhance the climate of cooperation and confidence.
- The proliferation of nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) weapons and their means of delivery poses risks to the Alliance. The principal non-proliferation goal of the Alliance and its members is to prevent proliferation from occurring, or, should it occur, to reverse it through diplomatic means. We note the report of the Joint Committee on Proliferation regarding the activities of the Senior Political-Military Group on Proliferation and the Senior Defence Group on Proliferation.
The Alliance shares with its Partners many of the risks arising from the proliferation of NBC weapons. We will therefore pursue a dialogue on this issue in the framework of EAPC and with Russia and Ukraine, with the aim of enhancing our cooperation in countering these risks.
- We note with satisfaction that implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention is proceeding well, and that the number of countries ratifying this important agreement continues to grow. We particularly welcome the CWC ratification by the Russian Federation in early November. We urge all states that have not yet signed and ratified the Convention to do so, and call upon those that have ratified to carry out fully their obligations under the Convention.
We continue to endorse efforts to negotiate an effective verification regime to strengthen the implementation of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention.
We support early entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and an early start to negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty.
We continue to urge the Russian Federation to ratify the START II Treaty as soon as possible, so that negotiations on START III can begin. In this context, we welcome the agreements signed by Secretary Albright and Foreign Minister Primakov on 26th September 1997 to enhance the prospects for Russia's ratification of START II. We urge Russia to honour its commitments as stated by President Yeltsin in 1992 to substantially reduce its tactical nuclear weapons stockpile.
We attach great importance to the Treaty on Open Skies and urge the Russian Federation, Belarus and Ukraine to take the necessary steps to permit its entry into force.
We welcome the signing in Ottawa on 3rd and 4th December, 1997 of the Convention on the prohibition of the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of anti-personnel landmines and on their destruction. The impact of this agreement on NATO will be fully assessed in the months ahead. We will take the necessary action to ensure that national obligations under the Convention are compatible with our obligations under the North Atlantic Treaty. We welcome the efforts pursued in the Conference on Disarmament and in other fora on the issue of anti-personnel mines and urge the Conference to intensify its efforts to achieve progress on the issue.
- We recognise the achievements of the NATO Science Programme in fostering transatlantic exchanges and intra-Alliance cohesion. We welcome ongoing efforts to adjust the Programme to NATO's new structures and tasks.
- We strongly condemn all acts of terrorism. We will continue to support all efforts to combat terrorism, including using arrangements in the Alliance for consultation on threats of a wider nature that affect Alliance security interests. In accordance with our national legislation, we stress the need for the most effective cooperation possible to prevent and suppress this scourge.
- We accepted with pleasure an invitation from the United States to host the meeting of Allied Heads of State and Government in Washington in Spring 1999, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the North Atlantic Treaty.
- The Spring 1998 meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Ministerial Session will be held in Luxembourg, on 28th May 1998.