29 May 1998

EAPC One-Year Anniversary

Press Statement by the Chairman

Luxembourg, 29 May 1998

Today we mark the first anniversary of the launch of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) at the Ministerial meeting in Sintra, Portugal. The EAPC, which has 44 member nations, is a multilateral forum for consultation and cooperation between NATO Allies and Partners to continue strengthening security in the Euro-Atlantic area for the benefit of all states. The EAPC Basic Document which Ministers approved at Sintra stated their determination to raise to a qualitatively higher level political and military cooperation through the EAPC. After only one year, the EAPC is already fulfilling its purpose as the framework for both an expanded political dimension of partnership and enhanced practical cooperation through the substantial strengthening of the Partnership for Peace. Symbolic of this is the fact that almost all Partners have now established diplomatic missions to NATO.

Ministers exchanged views today on confidence-building and conflict prevention in the Euro-Atlantic area. The High Representative Ambassador Westendorp provided a briefing on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Ministers condemned the nuclear tests conducted by India and Pakistan and expressed deep concern and dismay at these tests, which will increase tensions and the prospect of a costly and dangerous regional arms race in South-Asia. Ministers urged India and Pakistan to refrain from further tests and the deployment of nuclear weapons and their delivery means. They called for both countries to adhere unconditionally to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and to enter into negotiations on a global treaty to stop the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. Ministers further urged India and Pakistan to engage in a constructive dialogue to build mutual confidence and to overcome the tensions between them, without confrontation.

The successful implementation of the EAPC Action Plan for 1998-2000, which sets out a list of areas for EAPC cooperation, is well underway. The opportunities that the EAPC provides for exchanges of views and information make a vital contribution to increasing transparency and confidence between members. Consultations have focused on political and security-related issues such as the situation in and around Bosnia and Herzegovina, the situation in Kosovo, consultations on a follow-on force for SFOR and the prospects for regional security cooperation, in particular in southeastern Europe and the Caucasus. Today, Ministers expressed their serious concern about the situation in Kosovo and condemned the increased violence there. They called for a peaceful resolution of the crisis through dialogue between the authorities in Belgrade and the Kosovar Albanian leadership and supported efforts by the international community, including NATO, to help bring this about and to stabilize the situation in the region.

EAPC consultations have also taken place on international terrorism, defence-related environmental issues and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Practical cooperation activities in various fields have been strengthened; individual EAPC countries concerned have briefed the EAPC on various regional cooperation initiatives. Ministers today particularly welcomed the decision to create in Brussels a Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre as part of enhanced practical cooperation in the field of international disaster relief. This Centre will be opened next week.

Significant progress continues in all areas on implementation of the enhanced Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme, which was also launched by Ministers at the Sintra Ministerial meeting as a distinct element within the EAPC framework. Consultations on the development of a political-military framework for NATO-led PfP operations will put into place one of the cornerstones of the enhanced Partnership. Within an overall Alliance context, the framework will provide for Partner participation in the planning of PfP operations and in the provision of political guidance for and oversight of NATO-led PfP operations.

Partners and Allies are increasingly working together in shaping PfP programmes and policies, in particular through the development of the Partnership Work Programme, the development of new initiatives by senior NATO Committees and involvement in the further development of the Planning and Review Process (PARP). The PARP process itself is being expanded and adapted and will become more like NATO's force planning process. Regular military consultations with Partners in the Military Committee have been established and are now an important part of the more robust military cooperation programme that is a central feature of the enhanced PfP.

Eight Partnership Staff Elements, incorporating thirty-eight officers from thirteen Partner countries have been created at military headquarters for Partner officers to serve in an international capacity, planning and implementing PfP activities alongside NATO officers. Seven Partner officers from five Partner countries have been integrated into the staff of the Partnership Coordination Cell, including one officer as a branch chief. The first Partnership projects utilising the NATO Security Investment Programme have been approved and several other Partner project proposals are under consideration.

The EAPC and the enhanced PfP continue to serve as a contribution to European Security and a framework for political consultation and practical cooperation between NATO Allies and all Partners. For those Partners aspiring to NATO membership, their active participation in EAPC and enhanced PfP will play an important role.

Ministers look forward to continuing to deepen relations through the EAPC and enhanced PfP. The result will be a more operational Partnership, and a stronger consultative forum, providing Allies and Partners with a greater ability to shape and respond to new security challenges. Through the EAPC and enhanced PfP, all its members are engaged together in making a valuable practical contribution to enhancing security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area.

The next meeting of the EAPC Foreign Ministers will be held in Brussels in December 1998.

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