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NATO FACT SHEET: NATO'S ENLARGEMENT
MARCH 1996

In December 1994, NATO Foreign Ministers initiated a study to examine the questions related to the inclusion of new members into the North Atlantic Alliance. They stated that enlargement, when it takes place, will be part of a broad European security architecture based on true cooperation throughout the whole of Europe. It will threaten no one and will enhance security and stability for all of Europe. This study was completed in September 1995, at which time it was presented to Partnership for Peace (PfP) Partners.

Interested Central and East European Partner states were briefed on an individual basis in the weeks following the completion of the study. NATO Foreign Ministers met in Brussels in December 1995 to determine the next steps to be taken. On the basis of the study and the reactions of Partner countries, NATO Foreign Ministers decided that during 1996, the next phase of the enlargement pro cess will consist of intensified, individual dialogue with interested Partners; enhancement of PfP to help those interested Partners to prepare for the responsibilities of membership and to strengthen long term partnership with others; and further consideration of what the Alliance must do internally to ensure that enlargement preserves its effectiveness.

The origins and principal conclusions of the study are summarized below.

At their Summit meeting in Brussels in January 1994, Heads of State and Government of the 16 member countries of the North Atlantic Alliance reaffirmed the openness of the Alliance and stated that they expected and would welcome NATO enlargement that would reach to their east, as part of an evolutionary process, taking into account political and security developments in the whole of Europe.

In December 1994, Allied Foreign Ministers initiated a process of examination inside the Alliance to determine how NATO will enlarge, the principles to guide this process and the implications of membership. It was agreed that the results of this study would be presented to interested Partners before the next Ministerial meeting in Brussels in December 1995. Elaboration of the study has served to clarify the “why and how” of enlargement and what NATO and possible new members will need to do to prepare to join. The “who and when” of enlargement have not been addressed and are subjects for future discussion and decision.

WHY NATO WILL ENLARGE

With the end of the Cold War and the disappearance of the Warsaw Pact, there is both a need and a unique opportunity to build an improved security architecture in the whole of the Euro-Atlantic area, without recreating dividing lines. NATO enlargement will be a further step towards the Alliance's basic goal of enhancing security and extending stability throughout the Euro-Atlantic area, within the context of a broad European security architecture based on true cooperation. NATO enlargement will extend to new members the benefits of common defence and integration into European and Euro Atlantic institutions.

NATO enlargement will threaten no one. NATO is and will remain a purely defensive Alliance whose fundamental purpose is to preserve peace in the Euro-Atlantic area and to provide security to its members. NATO enlargement will contribute to enhanced stability and security for all countries in the Euro-Atlantic area by: encouraging and supporting democratic reforms, including civilian and demo cratic control over the military; fostering patterns and habits of cooperation, consultation and consensus building which characterize relations among current Allies; promoting good-neighborly relations in the whole Euro-Atlantic area; increasing transparency in defence planning and military budgets and thus confidence among states; reinforcing the tendency toward integration and cooperation in Europe; strengthening the Alliance's ability to contribute to European and international security and support peacekeeping under the U.N. or OSCE; and by strengthening and broadening the transatlantic partner ship.

PRINCIPLES OF ENLARGEMENT

Enlargement of the Alliance will be through accession of new member states to the Washington Treaty in accordance with its Article 10. All new members will enjoy all the rights and assume all obligations of membership under the Washington Treaty; and will need to accept and conform with the principles, policies and procedures adopted by all members of the Alliance at the time that new mem bers join. Willingness and ability to meet such commitments, not only on paper but in practice, would be a critical factor in any decision to invite a country to join. The Alliance rests upon commonality of views and a commitment to work for consensus; part of the evaluation of the qualifications of a possible new member will be its demonstrated commitment to that process and those values. In particular, the Alliance will wish to avoid a situation where a new member might “close the door” behind it to new admissions in the future to other countries which may also aspire to membership. States which have ethnic disputes or external territorial disputes, including irredentist claims, or internal jurisdictional disputes, must settle those disputes by peaceful means in accordance with OSCE principles. Resolu tion of such disputes would be a factor in determining whether to invite a state to join the Alliance. Finally, the ability of prospective members to contribute militarily to collective defence and to peace keeping and other new missions of the Alliance will be a factor in deciding whether to invite them to join the Alliance. The Alliance is committed to maintaining the importance, vitality and credibility of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC) and the Partnership for Peace (PfP). As enlargement evolves, the two cooperative frameworks will remain important for strengthening relations with Part ners which may be unlikely to join the Alliance early or at all. While PfP will help prepare interested Partners for possible eventual membership, it is neither a substitute for membership nor a guaranteed path to automatic membership.

DECISIONS ON ENLARGEMENT

Decisions on enlargement will be for NATO itself. There is no fixed or rigid list of criteria for inviting new member states to join the Alliance. Enlargement will be decided on a case-by-case basis and some nations may attain membership before others. New members should not be admitted or excluded on the basis of belonging to some group or category. Ultimately, Allies will decide by con sensus whether to invite each new member to join according to their judgment of whether doing so will contribute to security and stability in the North Atlantic area at the time such a decision is to be made. No country outside the Alliance should be given a veto or droit de regard over the process and decisions.

COLLECTIVE DEFENSE ARRANGEMENTS

Against the background of existing arrangements for contributing to collective defence, Allies will want to know how possible new members intend to contribute to NATO's collective defence and will explore all aspects of this question in detail through bilateral dialogue prior to accession negotiations. New members should accept NATO doctrine and policies directed at ensuring interoperability of forces. It is important for NATO's force structure that Allies' forces can be deployed, when and if appropriate, on the territory of new members.

The Alliance has no a priori requirement for the stationing of Alliance troops on the territory of new members. The coverage provided by Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, including its nuclear component, will apply to new members. There is no a priori requirement for the stationing of nuclear weapons on the territory of new members. For the foreseeable future, NATO's current nuclear posture will meet the requirements of an enlarged Alliance.

NATO ENLARGEMENT AND THE OSCE, EU AND WEU

A strengthened OSCE, an enlarged NATO, an active NACC and PfP would, together with other fora, form complementary parts of a broad, inclusive European security architecture, supporting the ob jective of an undivided Europe. NATO's commitments to support, on a case-by-case basis and in accordance with Alliance procedures, peacekeeping activities under the responsibility of the OSCE and peace keeping operations under the authority of the U.N. Security Council, will remain valid after enlargement. An enlarged Alliance would have greater capacity to support such peacekeeping activities and opera tions. The enlargement of NATO is a parallel process with and will complement that of the European Union. Both enlargement processes will contribute significantly to extending security, stability and pros perity enjoyed by their members to other, like-minded, democratic European states. All full members of the WEU are also members of NATO. The maintenance of this linkage is essential, because of the cumu lative effect of security safeguards extended in the two organizations. The enlargement of both organizations should, therefore, be compatible and mutually supportive. An eventual broad congruence of Euro pean membership in NATO, EU and WEU would have positive effects on European security. Therefore, the Alliance should, at an appropriate time, give particular consideration to countries with a perspective of EU membership, and which have shown interest in joining NATO, in order to consider how they can contribute to transatlantic security within the Washington Treaty and to determine whether to invite them to join NATO.

RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA

NATO enlargement threatens no one and is not directed against Russia or any other state. Allies believe that inviting new members into the Alliance will contribute to enhanced security for the whole of Europe, which is in Russia's interest as well. Like NATO, Russia has an important contribution to make to European stability and security. A stronger NATO-Russia relationship should form a corner stone of a new, inclusive and comprehensive security structure in Europe. Russia joined Partnership for Peace in June 1994. In May 1995, NATO and Russia also agreed on a broad, enhanced dialogue and cooperation, beyond PfP. NATO-Russia relations must be based on reciprocity, mutual respect and confidence, avoiding “surprise” decisions by either side which could affect the interests of the other. Implementation of Russia's Individual Partnership Programme under the Partnership for Peace and of our dialogue and cooperation with Russia beyond PfP will be important steps in this direction. NATO wants to strengthen the NATO-Russia relationship even further, in rough parallel with NATO enlargement The Alliance is addressing the concerns which Russia has raised with respect to NATO enlargement in the development of its wider relationship with Russia. The Alliance has made clear, however, that it cannot be subordinated to another European security institution.

NEXT STEPS

A collective briefing on the conclusions of the study was given to interested Partners on 28 September 1995, at NATO Headquarters, and individual briefings in Brussels or Partner capitals took place over the subsequent few weeks at the request of interested Partners. Countries interested in joining the Alliance have indicated that they would like more information on country-specific require ments for membership. At their meeting on 5 December, NATO Foreign Ministers decided, on the basis of the study and the reactions of Partner countries, that throughout 1996, the next phase of the enlargement process will consist of three elements: intensified, individual dialogue with interested Partners, building on the foundation of the enlargement study and the presentations made during the first phase; further enhancement of the Partnership for Peace to help those interested Partners to prepare to assume the responsibilities of membership and to strengthen long-term partnership with others; and further consideration of what NATO must do internally to ensure that enlargement preserves the effectiveness of the Alliance. Intensified dialogue will allow interested Partners to learn about specific and practical requirements for Alliance membership, and to review their efforts to prepare for membership in relation to the principles included in the enlargement study. NATO, in turn, will acquire a better appreciation of what individual Partners could or could not contribute to the Alliance. However, participation in this next phase will not imply that interested Partners will have an automatic prospect of being invited to accede to NATO. Foreign Ministers will continue their assessment of progress and consideration of the way forward at future meetings.

This text is not a formally agreed NATO document and does not therefore necessarily represent the official opinion or position of individual member governments on all policy issues discussed