8 December 1998

Final Communiqu

Ministerial Meeting Of The North Atlantic Council
Held At Nato Headquarters, Brussels

  1. At our meeting today, we discussed preparations for the Alliance's next Summit meeting in Washington in April 1999. At this Summit, which will mark the 50th anniversary of the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty, we will celebrate the historic achievements of NATO as a strong, united and successful Alliance and will welcome the three invited countries - the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland - as members of the Alliance. The Summit will also provide an opportunity to define the Alliance's role for the future, including ever closer relations with Partner countries. Accordingly, we recommend to our Heads of State and Government that at the Washington Summit they set out their shared vision of the Alliance in the years ahead - an Alliance adapted, renewed and ready to meet the security challenges of the 21st century.

    We reviewed the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the future of the NATO-led Stabilisation Force, and consulted on the situation in and around Kosovo. On both these important subjects, we have issued separate statements. We have also issued a separate statement on "Adaptation of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE): Restraint and Flexibility". We gave additional guidance to the Alliance's ongoing work in implementing the decisions of the Madrid Summit of July 1997 to shape the new NATO.

  2. We are pleased with the successful completion by all Allies of the ratification process for the accession of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland to the Washington Treaty. We welcome the progress made in preparations for membership by the invited countries, and encourage them and the NATO Military Authorities to accelerate their efforts towards completion of the relevant minimum military requirements of the Alliance. The membership of these countries will contribute to an overall strengthening of the Alliance and to enhancing security and stability in Europe. We look forward to welcoming the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland as our new Allies before the Washington Summit.

  3. We reaffirm that the door remains open to NATO membership under Article 10 of the North Atlantic Treaty and in accordance with Paragraph 8 of the Madrid Summit Declaration. Taking into account a report on the intensified dialogue on membership questions, we reviewed this process, as mandated by our Heads of State and Government, in preparation for the comprehensive review which they will carry out at their meeting in Washington. We tasked the Council in Permanent Session to develop for the Washington Summit a comprehensive package that will continue the enlargement process, operationalise our commitment to the open door policy and underscore our willingness to assist aspiring countries in meeting NATO standards.

  4. We received a comprehensive report describing the progress made in our internal adaptation, to which we continue to attach great importance. The fundamental objectives of this adaptation are to maintain the Alliance's military effectiveness for the full range of its missions building on its essential collective defence capabilities 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 (ESDI) within the Alliance. Implementation of the Combined Joint Task Forces (CJTF) concept and preparations for implementation of the new command structure are well in hand. Our aim is to have the necessary preparations completed to enable the Council to take a single and irreversible decision on the activation requests of all headquarters of the new NATO command structure by the beginning of March 1999, and we tasked the Council in Permanent Session accordingly.

    We reviewed the progress made in building the ESDI within NATO and welcome the close cooperation and consultation with the WEU in this regard. Regular meetings of the NATO and WEU Councils in Joint Session and of subordinate bodies, and arrangements for close consultation on the planning and conduct of WEU-led operations and exercises involving the use of NATO assets and capabilities, are important elements of the development of ESDI within the Alliance. Preparation within the Alliance for WEU-led operations making use of Alliance assets and capabilities is now well advanced. In this context, we welcome the results of the joint workshop on the NATO-WEU consultation process and look forward to a crisis management seminar in February 1999, leading up to a joint NATO-WEU crisis management exercise in 2000. We appreciate the steady strengthening of cooperative links between NATO and the WEU which was reaffirmed at the WEU Council of Ministers held in Rome on 16th-17th November. We direct the Council in Permanent Session to ensure that the key elements of the work on implementing the Berlin and Brussels decisions relating to ESDI are in place, as set out in the report on internal adaptation submitted to us, by the Washington Summit. Moreover, we direct the Council to make recommendations on how best to further enhance the effectiveness of ESDI within the Alliance, including the contribution made by all European Allies, beyond the Washington Summit.

  5. We reviewed the ongoing work on the examination, and updating as necessary, of the Alliance's Strategic Concept, as mandated by our Heads of State and Government at their Summit meeting in Madrid in July 1997. This work must ensure that the Strategic Concept is fully consistent with the Alliance's new security environment. It should reaffirm our commitment to collective defence and the transatlantic link; take account of the challenges the Alliance now faces; and present an Alliance ready and with a full range of capabilities to enhance security and stability for countries in the Euro-Atlantic area in the 21st century, including through dialogue, cooperation and partnership and, where appropriate, non-Article 5 crisis response operations, such as that in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the possible participation of partners. We instructed the Council in Permanent Session to pursue this work vigorously so that the new text is available by the time of the Washington Summit.

  6. We are pleased that the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) and an enhanced Partnership for Peace (PfP) are resulting in a stronger consultative forum and a more operational Partnership. This will improve the ability of Allies and Partners to contribute to security and stability through political consultations and practical cooperation. The EAPC has proven a valuable forum for consultations on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and on the crisis in Kosovo. We received a comprehensive progress report on implementation of the EAPC Basic Document and the enhanced Partnership for Peace.

    We welcome the EAPC's substantial updated Action Plan for 1998 - 2000 which includes exploring new issues. In the area of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation issues, these would include arms control, political and defence efforts against proliferation of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and missiles, and arms trafficking, control of small arms transfers and means of encouraging de-mining.

    We welcome as a positive development the inauguration last June of the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre, which has already coordinated emergency aid for relief operations in Albania and Ukraine.

  7. The Partnership for Peace continues to be the focal point of our efforts to build with Partners new patterns of practical military and defence-related cooperation across a wide range of issues.

    We note with satisfaction the ongoing discussions with Partners on the development of a political-military framework for NATO-led PfP operations. This will enhance future cooperation by establishing a basis for Partner involvement in political consultations and decision-making, command arrangements and operational planning for NATO-led non-Article 5 operations. The political-military framework will be a key element in future cooperation and will provide for an increased role of Partners in one of the Alliance's major new tasks. The intention is to finalise this work, in tandem with the Strategic Concept, by the Washington Summit.

    We welcome the Concept for PfP Training Centres, which will advance the broad politico-military goals of PfP's overall education and training efforts, particularly in supporting enhanced military cooperation and interoperability.

    We are pleased that a substantial number of interested Partner countries are taking up the opportunity, provided under the expanded Planning and Review Process (PARP), to adopt initial Partnership goals in Spring 1999. This is an important effort towards closer Partner cooperation with Alliance structures and procedures, in particular by enhancing interoperability, a priority for the Alliance.

    We welcome the increased attention given to multinational formations as a means to enhance military cooperation between Allies and Partners, as in IFOR/SFOR in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

    We tasked the Council in Permanent Session to put together, with Partners, the initiatives above and other work now underway to form a coherent package of measures intended to reinforce PfP's operational capabilities for the Washington Summit.

    Partnership for Peace programmes can also play an important role in contributing to Alliance efforts in reinforcing regional stability, such as in the Balkans. In this context, the Alliance has promoted, with participation of Partners, a substantive programme of assistance to Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

  8. We are encouraged by the developing process of consultation and practical cooperation with Russia under the auspices of the Permanent Joint Council (PJC) and remain committed to working together with Russia to achieve a strong, stable and enduring partnership, on the basis of the principles of common interest, reciprocity and transparency, as called for in the NATO-Russia Founding Act.

    The crisis in Kosovo has confirmed the value of the PJC as a consultative forum. The ongoing SFOR mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina has been a valuable example of practical cooperation between NATO and Russia.

    We are pleased that military-to-military cooperation is progressing well, and that agreement has been reached on the establishment of a NATO Military Liaison Mission in Moscow by the end of this year.

    We look forward to signing with Russia a Memorandum of Understanding on Environmental Protection and to establishing as soon as possible a NATO Information Office in Moscow. We welcome the establishment of the NATO-Russia Scientific and Technological Cooperation Committee, which recently held its inaugural meeting in Moscow; agreement on the establishment of an Information and Consultation Centre in Moscow on the retraining of retired military personnel; and Russian participation in the PfP exercise "Cooperative Assembly". We will continue to work closely with Russia to develop an updated and substantial Individual Partnership Programme (IPP) to include a wide range of practical defence-related and military-to-military cooperative activities.

  9. We reaffirm our view that Ukraine has a key role to play in European security. We attach importance to the development of strong and active practical cooperation and political consultations with Ukraine, under the aegis of the NATO-Ukraine Charter. We welcome the announcement by the President of Ukraine of a "State Programme of Cooperation with NATO to the Year 2001" as a tangible signal of Ukraine's commitment to a productive relationship with NATO.

    We intend to utilise as fully as possible the potential offered by Ukraine's active participation in enhanced PfP and the agreed NATO-Ukraine Work Plan for 1999. We also note with satisfaction the growing military cooperation between NATO and Ukraine. The newly established NATO-Ukraine Joint Working Group on Defence Reform is a unique partnership programme.

    We welcome the agreement to be signed tomorrow on the appointment of two NATO liaison officers to Kyiv to enhance mutual cooperation. We will continue to support an active information effort in Ukraine through the NATO Information and Documentation Centre in Kyiv.

  10. Security in Europe is closely linked with security and stability in the Mediterranean. We therefore give great attention to our Mediterranean Dialogue which is part of the Alliance's cooperative approach to security, contributes to building confidence with participating countries and mutually reinforces other international efforts towards this end. We look forward to the positive contribution that the newly designated Allied Contact Point Embassies will have in fostering the Dialogue. We are committed to further improving the political, civil and military aspects of our Dialogue. We encourage Partners in the Dialogue to take full advantage of all its possibilities, including in the military field. We are ready to consider possibilities to enhance cooperation with participating countries in preparation for the Washington Summit.

  11. The establishment of the Kosovo Verification Missions has opened a new stage in cooperation between NATO and the OSCE. Through the close coordination with the OSCE over the last months in the planning and establishment of these missions, and our continuing cooperation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, we have further demonstrated in practice our ability to work together in crisis situations.

    We also welcome the strengthening of relations between NATO and the OSCE over the past year, in the spirit of the OSCE's Common Concept for the Development of Cooperation between Mutually Reinforcing Institutions. We continue to support the efforts of the OSCE to develop a Document-Charter on European Security, worthy of adoption at the OSCE Istanbul Summit in 1999. We welcome the outcome of the OSCE Oslo Ministerial of 2nd-3rd December 1998.

  12. We continue to consider the CFE Treaty as a cornerstone of European security. We are committed to a successful adaptation of the Treaty. We will play our full part in seeking to complete this by the time of the OSCE Istanbul Summit. To this end, we will support efforts aimed at the resolution of key outstanding issues and the start of drafting work in the first months of next year. To assist this process, the North Atlantic Council and the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland have today issued a separate statement entitled "Adaptation of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE): Restraint and Flexibility." Pending Entry into Force of the Adapted Treaty, we regard continued strict implementation of the current Treaty and its associated documents as vital.

  13. We welcome the communiqu of the five nuclear weapons states of 4th June this year affirming their commitments relating to nuclear disarmament under Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. We call on Russia to ratify the START II Treaty without delay. This would pave the way for considerable reductions of nuclear arsenals and would allow negotiations on a START III Treaty aiming at further far-reaching reductions of nuclear weapons stockpiles. We remain committed to an early entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and call upon all countries to accede to and implement the Treaty in due course. We support the early conclusion of a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty.

  14. The proliferation of nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) weapons and their means of delivery continues to be a matter of serious concern for the Alliance. 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 and its members remain committed to preventing proliferation and to reversing it, should it occur, through diplomatic means. At the same time, we recognise that proliferation can pose a direct threat to the Alliance. Building on the successful work of the NATO groups on proliferation, we are prepared to expand NATO's efforts to address the evolving proliferation threat. We therefore task the Council in Permanent Session to prepare for the Washington Summit proposals for an initiative to ensure that the Alliance has the political and military capabilities to address appropriately and effectively the challenges of the proliferation of NBC weapons and their means of delivery.

  15. We underline the risk to international and regional stability posed by the spread of NBC weapons. In particular, we urge all countries to accede to and fully implement the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the cornerstone of the non-proliferation rgime.

  16. We are determined to achieve progress on a legally binding protocol including effective verification measures to enhance compliance and promote transparency that strengthens the implementation of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. We re-emphasise the importance of universal adherence to the Chemical Weapons Convention.

  17. We call on Russia, Ukraine and Belarus to ratify the Open Skies Treaty without delay.

  18. Terrorism constitutes a serious threat to peace, security and stability which can threaten the territorial integrity of States. We reiterate our condemnation of terrorism and reaffirm our determination to combat it in accordance with our international commitments and national legislation.

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