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North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
Organization du traité de l'Atlantique Nord (OTAN)

Flag of NATO
Flag of NATO
Map of NATO member states
Map of NATO member states
Secretary General NorwayNorway Jens Stoltenberg
(since 2014)
SACEUR ( Supreme Allied Commander Europe ) United StatesUnited States General Tod D. Wolters
(since 2019)
SACT ( Supreme Allied Commander Transformation ) FranceFrance General André Lanata
(since 2018)
founding April 4, 1949
Member States Founding members:
BelgiumBelgium Belgium
DenmarkDenmark Denmark
FranceFrance France
IcelandIceland Iceland
ItalyItaly Italy
CanadaCanada Canada
LuxembourgLuxembourg Luxembourg
NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands
NorwayNorway Norway
PortugalPortugal Portugal
United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
United StatesUnited States United States

Since February 18, 1952:

GreeceGreece Greece
TurkeyTurkey Turkey

Since May 6, 1955:

GermanyGermany Federal Republic of Germany

Since May 30, 1982:

SpainSpain Spain

Since March 12, 1999:

PolandPoland Poland
Czech RepublicCzech Republic Czech Republic
HungaryHungary Hungary

Since March 29, 2004:

BulgariaBulgaria Bulgaria
EstoniaEstonia Estonia
LatviaLatvia Latvia
LithuaniaLithuania Lithuania
RomaniaRomania Romania
SlovakiaSlovakia Slovakia
SloveniaSlovenia Slovenia

Since April 1, 2009:

AlbaniaAlbania Albania
CroatiaCroatia Croatia

Since June 5, 2017:

MontenegroMontenegro Montenegro

Since March 27, 2020:

North MacedoniaNorth Macedonia North Macedonia

A total of 30

NATO headquarters Brussels , BelgiumBelgiumBelgium 
Total troop strength


about 3.46 million

about 2.11 million

Status: 2021

Motto animus in consulendo liber ( Latin for "a free sense in counseling")

The NATO ( english N orth A tlantic T reaty O rganization "Organization of the North Atlantic Treaty" and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization ), the German often called Atlantic Treaty Organization or the North Atlantic Treaty referred ( French OTAN - O du rganisation T Raite de l ' A tlantique N ord ), is an international organization without sovereign rights. Its member states retain full sovereignty and independence. NATO is based on the North Atlantic Treaty according to Article 51 of the UN Charter . Your organization sees itself not only as a defense alliance , but also as a military-political organization of 30 European and North American member states with the aim of their own security and global stability.

According to the German Federal Ministry of Defense , NATO sees itself as a “community of values ​​of free democratic states”. In the preamble to the North Atlantic Treaty, the members commit themselves to peace, democracy, freedom and the rule of law.

The NATO headquarters houses the North Atlantic (the main body of the NATO) and its immediately downstream facilities, International Staff (IS) and the International Military Staff  (IMS); this institution has had its seat in Brussels since 1967 . After the North Atlantic Pact was signed on April 4, 1949 - initially for 20 years - the headquarters were initially located in London and then from April 16, 1952 to 1967 in Paris .

The two most important military headquarters are the ACO (also known as Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe / SHAPE for historical and legal reasons ) in Casteau, Belgium, near Mons and the Allied Command Transformation (ACT) in the US city of Norfolk (Virginia) .

History and Development

Development of NATO in Europe


Soon after the end of World War II , the antagonisms between the former participating powers of the anti-Hitler coalition - the USSR on one side and the United Kingdom , France and the USA on the other - emerged. With the Brussels Pact of March 17, 1948, the Western European countries France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg formed an alliance for economic, social and cultural cooperation and collective self-defense . This alliance was nominally intended as an assistance pact against renewed German aggression. On June 11, 1948, the United States Senate passed the so-called Vandenberg Resolution , which said that if the United States pledged to defend it, every European country had to pledge to defend the United States. In March 1947, the USA assumed the British protective role over Greece and Turkey in order to counteract an expansion of Soviet power ( Truman Doctrine ). With the February revolution in Czechoslovakia in 1948 and the Berlin blockade from June 1948 to May 1949, a possible military threat from the communist Eastern bloc led by the Soviet Union came to the fore in Western Europe . The Western European states now turned to the USA with a request for military assistance against possible Soviet aggression. This led to a reciprocal agreement, the North Atlantic Treaty. The deliberations on the text of the contract and its content had been going on since July 6, 1948. On December 10, 1948, negotiations began on the North Atlantic Treaty between the member states of the Brussels Pact, Canada and the United States.

Construction and expansion phase 1949 to 1955

On April 4, 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty was signed by Belgium, Denmark (with Greenland), France (with the French territories in Algeria), United Kingdom (with Malta), Iceland, Italy, Canada, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and the USA. It came into force on August 24, 1949. With the admission of Portugal, it was accepted that a country that had been dictatorial since 1926 and only transformed into a democracy in 1974 was allowed to take part in the struggle against the Eastern Bloc .

In the first few years the community was under the impression of the Berlin blockade in 1948/49 and the detonation of the first Soviet atomic bomb on August 29, 1949. The first strategic concept for the defense of the North Atlantic area , in the original “The Strategic Concept for the Defense of the North Atlantic area (DC 6/1) ”, was drawn up from December 1, 1949 and approved by the North Atlantic Council on January 6, 1950 . It was based on the US strategy of containment (containment). The principle at that time was to ward off a Soviet attack on the alliance's territory as far to the east as possible. On March 28, 1950, the first defense planning for the NATO strategy was approved by the NATO Military Committee (Strategic Guidance for North Atlantic Regional Planning; MC 14). With the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950, in which the People's Republic of China also intervened in November 1950, military policy in Europe also changed. From August 1950 the USA tripled its strategic bomber formations stationed in Great Britain. The European NATO countries saw fears that the USA might lose its presence and ability to act in Europe, and planned a comprehensive increase in defense spending and a massive increase in personnel in the armed forces by 1954. This was last at the end of 1952 as part of the final planning The Strategic Guidances MC 14/1 envisaged the formation of 18 armored divisions and 71 infantry divisions, and by the end of 1954 8004 combat aircraft, 672 transport aircraft, 2382 naval and carrier aircraft, 31 aircraft carriers, 2 battleships, 29 cruisers, 920 destroyers and 107 submarines were to be planned be available. These should be assigned to a NATO staff during peacetime or "earmarked" in the event of a crisis. However, both could not be fully implemented due to cost reasons, although extensive military aid was provided from the USA.

On October 24, 1950, the French Prime Minister René Pleven made a proposal for a European Army under the command of a European Defense Minister, which should also include German battalions . These should be integrated into Allied troop units under Allied command. Despite considerable disadvantages for the young Federal Republic of Germany, which was supposed to be prevented from joining NATO by the Pleven Plan , Federal Chancellor Konrad Adenauer agreed to this in principle. On December 20, 1950, the member states of the Brussels Pact (Western Union) decided to incorporate the previous military organization into NATO. On February 7, 1951, the US government ( Truman's cabinet ) approved the Pleven Plan for the establishment of a European army. The Allied Command Europe began operating on April 2, 1950, and the Allied Forces Headquarters in Europe (SHAPE) was established in Rocquencourt in July 1951 . At the conference of foreign ministers of the United States, France and Great Britain in Washington from September 10 to 14, 1951, plans were made to set up West German armed forces to be integrated into a European army. A treaty on the European Defense Community (EDC) signed on May 26, 1952 failed, however, on August 30, 1954 in the French National Assembly with 319 to 264 votes.

On February 18, 1952, Greece and Turkey were admitted to NATO and the NATO command Allied Land Forces South-Eastern Europe (LANDSOUTHEAST) was established in Izmir . On February 20, 1952, NATO received a permanent organization in Paris. On 12 March 1952, the Briton was Lord Ismay for the first Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization appointed, and the term began from 4 April 1952. On April 10, 1952, the Allied Command Atlantic (ACLANT) officially took in Norfolk , Virginia , working on. Originally it was called SACLANT , after the “Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic”, the Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic . SACLANT US Admiral Lynde D. McCormick had held this position since January 30, 1952.

On December 3, 1952, the Strategic Concept for the Defense of the North Atlantic Area (MC 3/5) was modified, and the strategic guidelines, defense planning and armed forces objectives culminated in Strategic Guideline MC 14/1, also known as Forward Defense on December 9, 1952 ( Forward Strategy).

On March 21, 1953, NATO adopted the US-developed nuclear strategy of massive retaliation , and this was laid down in the Overall Strategic Concept for the Defense of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (MC 14/2). In March 1953 the Allied Forces Mediterranean (AFMED) was established on the British island of Malta and in August 1953 the Allied Forces Central Europe (AFCENT) command was established in Fontainebleau, France .

Development from 1955 to 1967

Troop strength of NATO member states with contingents from the USA and Canada and the Warsaw Pact states in Europe 1959
Corps Sectors of Military Responsibility in the Central Area of ​​NATO 1984

On March 16, 1955, US President Dwight D. Eisenhower announced the use of tactical nuclear weapons against military targets in the event of war.

The signing of the Paris Treaties on October 23, 1954 as part of the integration of the Federal Republic of Germany into the West, invited the Federal Republic of Germany to join, which was carried out in an accession ceremony in the Palais de Chaillot in Paris on May 9, 1955 , shortly after the treaties came into force . On May 14, 1955, the Warsaw Pact was founded because of this NATO accession . On May 15, 1955, the Austrian State Treaty was signed in Vienna, which restored the sovereignty of the state and led to the withdrawal of the occupation troops by October 1955.

On March 13, 1957, the US headquarters in the Federal Republic announced that the US armed forces would be equipped with nuclear weapons . The Polish Foreign Minister Adam Rapacki submitted the Rapacki Plan to the UN General Assembly , which was to create a nuclear-weapon-free zone that would encompass the People's Republic of Poland , the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic . This area was later expanded to include Czechoslovakia in the plan .

On May 23, 1957, the North Atlantic Council adopted the US-developed nuclear strategy of massive retaliation , and this was laid down in the Overall Strategic Concept for the Defense of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (MC 14/2).

On September 19, 1958, the first US medium-range missiles of the Thor type were deployed in Great Britain, and after their operational readiness they were subject to the authority of the Royal Air Force (RAF). On November 10, 1958, Nikita Khrushchev announced the Berlin ultimatum , calling for West Berlin to be transformed into a demilitarized "independent political unit".

On March 11, 1959, France withdrew its fleet from NATO submission. On October 31, 1959, Turkey approved the deployment of US Jupiter- type medium-range missiles . A total of an American squadron with 26 missiles was set up by 1960. The United States also stationed two Jupiter squadrons with 25 rockets in Italy until 1960 .

On April 21, 1960, the United States offered NATO member states the delivery of Polaris sea -launched missiles (SLBM). On October 12, 1960, NATO Commander in Chief General Lauris Norstad officially proposed the establishment of a multilateral nuclear force to NATO. The United States started on 30 January 1961 for the first time an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) type Minuteman from a bunkered silo. On May 10, 1961, before the NATO Military Committee , US President John F. Kennedy emphasized the need to strengthen conventional combat capabilities and the need to control nuclear weapons. On July 20, 1962, NATO Commander-in-Chief, General Norstad, resigned because of differences over future NATO strategy. He was succeeded by General Lyman L. Lemnitzer . With the stationing of Soviet medium-range missiles of the type R-12 (SS-4 Sandal) in Cuba, the Cuban Missile Crisis broke out in October 1962 . Nuclear war had never been as likely as it was at this point in time.

In France's December 1965 elections, President Charles de Gaulle was confirmed in office and he began to change his defense policy. With the first French nuclear weapon explosion on February 13, 1960 in Reggane in Algeria , the country entered the circle of nuclear powers and built up its own nuclear force with the Force de dissuasion nucléaire française . With increased self-confidence, France also remembered the sometimes humiliating treatment by the Allies during the Second World War. De Gaulle refused permanent US dominance in NATO and demanded that US and Canadian units stationed in France be placed under French command. After the United States refused to give its consent, the French President demanded the withdrawal of Allied troops and NATO headquarters on February 10, 1966 on the grounds that “France is now striving to fully exercise its sovereignty, which is achieved through the stationing of foreign forces on its Soil was not guaranteed ”, and at the same time declared the withdrawal of his troops from the military integration of NATO. On July 1, 1966, the representatives of France withdrew from the military organs of NATO. 30,000 NATO soldiers had to leave France, the SHAPE military headquarters was relocated to Mons in Belgium by 1967 , the EUCOM to Stuttgart and AFCENT to Brunssum in the Netherlands. On October 16, 1966, under pressure from the USA, the members of the NATO Council also unanimously approved the transfer of their highest political body to Brussels. De Gaulle did not ask for this. In 1966 the formation of a multilateral force failed .

Until the 1960s, the Western alliance was clearly superior to its adversary when it came to nuclear warheads and means of delivery. The official strategy was massive retaliation: In response to a conventional attack, NATO provided for the immediate and extensive use of nuclear weapons against the USSR and the Warsaw Pact. However, the strong expansion of the Soviet strategic nuclear potential since the early 1960s changed the situation. The gradual stalemate between the superpowers forced NATO to rethink its strategy. On December 14, 1966, the Nuclear Planning Group (NPG) was established for the role of nuclear weapons in the Alliance.

Development from 1967 to 1984

Troop strength of NATO member states with contingents from the USA and Canada and the Warsaw Pact states in Europe in 1973
Military exercises in the Federal Republic of Germany were intended to ensure the defense capability of NATO, recording of the REFORGER maneuver in 1982
Advertising poster for NATO, illustration by Helmuth Ellgaard

Based on the Harmel Report published in the North Atlantic Council in 1967, the strategy of the graduated response ( flexible response ) was confirmed at the NATO Ministerial Council in Brussels on December 14, 1967 and adopted for NATO. In order to reduce nuclear risks, the strategy of massive retaliation no longer applied, but with the "two-pillar doctrine", NATO focused on the one hand on military security through conventional armed forces and the newly developed tactical nuclear weapons and on the other hand on détente . In the years that followed, NATO built a new self-image: the triad of conventional, tactical-nuclear and strategic-nuclear potentials and the motto security = defense and relaxation led to new approaches between NATO and the Warsaw Pact.

At the NATO Council of Ministers meeting on June 24 and 25, 1968 in Reykjavík , Iceland, the declaration of mutual and balanced troop reduction, the so-called "Signal from Reykjavík", was made. On August 21, 1968, Warsaw Pact troops invaded Czechoslovakia and ended the Prague Spring . On November 12, 1968, the Soviet head of state and party leader Leonid Brezhnev proclaimed the Brezhnev doctrine on the limited sovereignty of socialist states.

In 1969, on the initiative of Richard Nixon, attempts were made to build up a third, more civil pillar of NATO. Secretary General Manlio Giovanni Brosio planned to expand NATO into a marketplace for ideas and suggestions. It should help defend against environmental threats and improve environmental conditions, from urban development to pollution. Nixon's representative, who later became UN ambassador Daniel Patrick Moynihan , named acid rain and the “greenhouse effect ” (former translation of the greenhouse effect ) as topics for the committee. NATO was considered suitable because of the existing expertise in the meteorological area (there were already initiatives in the organization on issues of air pollution control in the early 1960s) as well as the experience with cross-border research and direct government access. The proposal was initially enthusiastically received in Germany by the Kiesinger government and worked on intensively at the inter-ministerial level, but the results were primarily used for civil society purposes. The federal government acted wait and see, inter alia. because environmental issues were seen more as part of (civil) domestic policy and the initiative was seen as an attempt by the USA to expand its international leadership role again after the lost Vietnam War. Treatment within a military alliance would tend to damage international civil cooperation.

In 1970, the defense spending of NATO members excluding the United States and Canada was $ 24.53 billion. On March 20, 1970, the first NATO communications satellite, NATO 1 , took off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in the USA . From April 1976 to November 1984 four more NATO communications satellites ( NATO III A to D ) were launched.

On October 1, 1970, the Euro-Group , the European group of NATO member states , met for the first time in Brussels and discussed the burden-sharing for the US stations in Europe. On December 2, 1970, the Euro-Group passed a "Defense Improvement Program" up to 1975 and costing 420 million US dollars, with the Federal Republic of Germany taking over around 40%.

In the summer of 1971, NADGE (NATO Air Defense Ground Environment), NATO's ground-based air defense network, with a 5,000 km long radar chain from the North Cape and Iceland to Malta and Eastern Turkey and around 40 radar stations, was successfully tested for the first time.

From September 14 to 28, 1972, NATO carried out its largest maneuver in the North Atlantic to date with the participation of the Allied Command Europe Mobile Force . With the Strong Express exercise , the alliance responded to the Warsaw Pact's ocean maneuvers and the shield maneuver in Czechoslovakia. From January 22nd to February 8th 1973 the sea maneuver Sunny Seas 73 took place in the southeast section of the North Atlantic. On May 2, 1973, the creation of a multinational English Channel fleet was announced.

On April 23, 1973, the US President's National Security Advisor , Henry Kissinger , announced the proposal to draw up a new Atlantic Charter that would also include Japan . However, this proposal was rejected by the other NATO member states.

On July 3, 1973, the first Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) took place in Helsinki .

On August 14, 1974, Greece left the military integration of NATO after Turkish troops landed in Cyprus on July 20 ( Cyprus conflict ).

On August 1, 1975, the CSCE Final Act was signed, which represented a first real step towards peaceful and partnership-based cooperation in Europe. On June 1, 1976, the French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing announced the early participation of France in the forward defense of NATO in the event of a defense.

At the end of 1976, NATO became aware of the deployment of Soviet SS-20 medium-range missiles west of the Urals Mountains .

In October 1977 the NATO foreign ministers agreed in Bari (Italy) to form the High-Level Group (HLG), which was subordinate to the Nuclear Planning Group (NPG). It included representatives from twelve NATO countries. The HLG developed the basis for the NATO double decision .

The CSCE follow-up meeting began on October 4, 1977 in Belgrade (Yugoslavia). On October 28, 1977, Chancellor Helmut Schmidt gave a speech at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London and emphasized the growing disparity in the field of medium-range missiles with simultaneous nuclear-strategic parity between the superpowers.

The NATO Nuclear Planning Group (NPG) discussed on October 18 and 19, 1978 questions of the deterrent capacity of the Warsaw Pact nuclear forces in Europe and recommended the modernization of NATO medium-range missiles.

The NATO double decision from 1979 is still controversial today, because the retrofitting of medium-range missiles in Europe and the simultaneous offer to negotiate with the USSR did not immediately lead to the hoped-for relaxation. The double decision was sharply criticized by peace activists across Europe during their Easter marches . Whether this renewed intensification of the arms race contributed to the collapse of the Eastern bloc or whether these countries were facing economic collapse is still very controversial today.

On August 10, 1981, the ambassadors of the NATO member states in Brussels were informed of the decision of the US President Ronald Reagan that the " neutron nuclear weapon " would be built and stationed in the USA. Around 800 neutron explosive devices had been manufactured in the USA since 1974 and were scrapped again by 1992.

In May 1981 the North Atlantic Council (NAC) commissioned the High-Level Group (HLG) of the Nuclear Planning Group (NPG) to analyze the threat to NATO and to prepare the negotiations on the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces in Geneva.

On November 30, 1981, the INF negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union began on medium-range nuclear systems.

In 1982 Spain became the 16th member of NATO.

According to the West German Federal Ministry of Defense, in September 1983 the Soviet Union had 39 positions with 351 operational SS-20 missiles with a maximum of 1,053 nuclear warheads, of which 243 missiles were deployed in the western Soviet military districts of Belarus , the Carpathians and the Urals . In addition, 248 SS-4 Sandel and SS-5 Skean missiles were stationed in 1983 . Various missile defense systems on the part of the USA and the Soviet Union were not taken into account.

From November 2, 1983, NATO carried out Able Archer 83, a Europe-wide, ten-day maneuver that simulated a nuclear war.

From November 14, 1983, US medium-range missiles began to be deployed in Europe. On December 8, 1983, the INF negotiations in Geneva were broken off by the Soviet Union.

Development from 1985 to 1990

Due to the change in Soviet foreign policy under CPSU General Secretary Mikhail Sergejewitsch Gorbachev and the reforms initiated ( glasnost and perestroika ), there were controversial discussions within the NATO states about how to react to this policy.

On June 1, 1988, the INF Treaty on the destruction of all medium and short-range missiles (500 to 5500 kilometers) and their production ban between the Soviet Union and the USA came into force. This led to the dismantling of medium-range missiles in Europe until 1991.

On February 2, 1989, the MBFR negotiations were broken off after almost 16 years and were replaced by the negotiations on a Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) that began on March 9, 1989 . In May 1989, a NATO communiqué on the modernization of short-range nuclear missiles (SRBM) was made dependent on further developments within the Warsaw Pact.

With the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989 and the dissolution of the Eastern Bloc in 1991, the geopolitical situation in Europe changed fundamentally. Of course, this had a fundamental impact on NATO and the related possibilities for preparing enlargements of the European Union in the east. On September 12, 1990, the Two-Plus-Four Treaty , a state treaty relating to Germany , was signed by representatives of both German states and the four victorious powers of World War II. It paved the way for the reunification of Germany and the dissolution of the German Democratic Republic . The Soviet, later Russian Western Group of Troops (WGT) of 340,000 soldiers stationed in the former GDR was withdrawn by 1994.

Development from 1991 to 1999

In the transition period that followed, new ideas and structures emerged. In the future, NATO should continue to play an important role in the framework of the Euro-Atlantic security order and as a transatlantic link. In addition, new tasks were added after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact. For example, NATO should be a crisis management instrument, a verification and enforcement instrument for arms control and an intact military alliance for peacekeeping measures by the United Nations and the OSCE . At the NATO summit in Rome on November 8, 1991, a new strategy for the alliance was decided. It relied on the triad of dialogue, cooperation and maintenance of the defense capability and replaced the concept of "flexible response".

In December 1991 the NATO Cooperation Council (NAKR) was constituted to maintain the stability of the alliance.

The “new ideas” also include NATO's readiness for “ out-of-area ” missions , which was agreed in 1992 . After authorization by the UN Security Council or the OSCE, missions outside of NATO territory are now also possible. The consequence of this decision were the active war operations of NATO with the air strikes against Yugoslavia during the Kosovo war . This process is criticized because neither a member state of NATO was attacked, nor was there authorization from the UN Security Council.

On January 10, 1994 in Brussels, a cooperation on military and security policy issues was agreed with interested Central and Eastern European countries of the NAKR, thus opening up the prospect of membership. There was a close connection with the Partnership for Peace (PfP) program , so in addition to joint maneuvers, a joint military operation with the former member states of Warsaw was also carried out for the first time within the framework of the Peace Implementation Forces (IFOR) and the Stabilization Force (SFOR) Pact carried out in Yugoslavia.

On January 1, 1995, the units of the Bundeswehr stationed in East Germany (around 50,000 soldiers at the time) were integrated into the alliance structure of NATO.

Between 1990 and 1997, NATO reduced its land forces by 35%, its navy by 30% and its air force by 40%. Land-based tactical nuclear weapons were withdrawn from Europe and US troops in Europe were reduced from 300,000 soldiers (1989) to initially 100,000 soldiers (1997).

At the end of the 1990s, NATO carried out a further restructuring with the aim of enabling rapid intervention in crisis areas, greater flexibility and the abandonment of bipolar threat thinking in connection with a correction in the management levels and the institutional structures.

The Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) concept was adopted at the NATO Council Conference in Berlin in June 1996 . This provides for multinational ( combined ), depending on the task, specially combined units ( task forces ) of various branches of arms coordinated for joint use ( joint ) and is intended to enable NATO member states in Europe to use material and logistics of the alliance even without the USA and to conduct military operations outside of NATO territory.

The previous NATO Cooperation Council was also transformed into the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) at the NATO meeting on May 30, 1997 in Sintra (Portugal) on the initiative of the USA . The EAPC provides for annual ministerial-level meetings and monthly ambassadorial-level meetings with sub-committees.

In May 1997, the Basic Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation , which was a prerequisite for NATO's eastward expansion, was agreed in Paris . NATO and Russia no longer referred to themselves as opponents. Internally it was decided to transform NATO from a military to a mostly political organization. The NATO-Russia Council (NRC) also served as a coordination forum.

At the NATO summit in Madrid in 1997 on July 8 and 9, 1997, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic were offered membership of NATO and a NATO-Ukraine charter was agreed with Ukraine on a “special partnership”.

At the end of 1997 the accession protocols were signed with Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary, three former Warsaw Pact states. Once the instruments of accession were ratified , their accession took effect on March 12, 1999.

On July 10, 1998, the two NATO countries United Kingdom and Spain agreed to include the use of Gibraltar in NATO maneuvers. So far Spain has refused to do so. The agreement paved the way for the establishment of a NATO command in Spain called for by the Spanish government after the United Kingdom withdrew its threatened veto.

On March 24, 1999, NATO began air strikes against Belgrade in the wake of the Kosovo war . Operation Allied Force , largely led by the United States, was the first war that NATO waged both outside of an alliance case , the proclamation of which was previously considered the basis of NATO-wide action, and without an express UN mandate .

At the anniversary summit of NATO in Washington on April 24, 1999, NATO adopted a new strategic concept ( The Alliance's Strategic Concept ). The result is a revision of the Strategic Concept from 1991.

Development from 2000 to 2009

Terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001

UA 175 flies into the South Tower of the World Trade Center in New York. The terrorist attacks in the USA led to the declaration of the NATO
alliance case for the first time

Immediately after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 in the USA, NATO temporarily put the alliance case (collective defense case) under Article 5 of the NATO Treaty, also known as the Washington Treaty , into force for the first time in its history , on October 1, 2001 in full. Article 5, in consultation with the governments of NATO member states, provides for the restoration and maintenance of the security of the North Atlantic area, and an armed attack on an ally, in this case the USA, is seen as an attack on each of the ally.

On October 4, 2001, the NATO states agreed a series of measures to support the USA in its fight against international terrorism. This included the exchange of intelligence information, unrestricted overflight rights and access to ports and airfields in the accession area by the US armed forces and the deployment of a permanent NATO fleet to the Eastern Mediterranean ( Operation Active Endeavor ). Although the members still see the attack on the World Trade Center as an armed attack that triggered the alliance case under Article 5, the governments of the NATO member states sometimes had completely different assessments of the consequences to be drawn.

NATO has not yet had much to counter the increased threat posed by international terrorism since September 11, 2001. Traditionally, the organization sees itself as an alliance of states against attacks from other states. This makes it difficult to classify this terrorist attack - that of a few extremist people who are active without an official declaration of war by an attacking country.

ISAF mission in Afghanistan

Leading Nations of Reconstruction Teams (PRT) and Regional Commands (2006)

The International Security Assistance Force , or ISAF for short , has been a security and reconstruction mission in Afghanistan since 2001 . m., was supported and led. ISAF has been under the leadership of NATO since 2003. The list was made at the request of the new Afghan government to the international community and with the approval of the United Nations Security Council (Resolution 1386 of December 20, 2001). The mission is not a blue helmet mission, but a so-called peace enforcement mission under the responsibility of the participating states. ISAF is operationally managed by NATO through the Commander Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum ( JFC Brunssum ) in the Netherlands. The mission ended on December 31, 2014.

NATO-Russia Council

The NATO-Russia Council (NRC) was founded in Rome on May 28, 2002 and serves to improve cooperation between the NATO states and Russia in matters of defense and security policy . The integration of Russia into NATO initially resulted in intensive cooperation on many levels. Russia had previously participated with up to 1,500 soldiers in the NATO-led SFOR in Bosnia-Herzegovina and in the KFOR in Kosovo.

NATO-Russia Council (2002)

NATO crisis response force

At the NATO summit in Prague on November 22, 2002, a reaction force, the so-called NATO Response Force (NRF), was set up with land, air and naval forces for rapid deployments and in November 2006 with a target strength of 25,000 soldiers for declared fully operational.

Iraq crisis

The US accused Iraq of serious violations of UN requirements. In February 2003, US Secretary of State Colin Powell tried to use satellite recordings, tape recordings and other documents to prove the resumption of prohibited weapons programs before the UN Security Council. Powell's remarks were not enough to convince the Security Council of the necessity of a war effort.

The United States and the United Kingdom have now tried to obtain authorization from the United Nations to attack Iraq. This was rejected by Germany, a NATO member state represented on the UN Security Council, Russia and France. As a result, a coalition of the willing was forged in order to still be able to represent broad-based support as legitimation for war.

Defense Ministers Conference in Nice (2005)

As part of the preparation of the US plans to invade Iraq, a serious crisis arose within NATO: When it came to the question of whether Turkey should be provided with preventive defense systems (German Patriot anti-aircraft missiles) so that it could defend itself in the event of an attack France and Belgium vetoed Iraq to defend against possible counter-attacks. Germany later joined the veto (but only after the deadline; from a purely formal point of view, the German veto is therefore invalid, but politically it was no less explosive). This led to an intensification of the transatlantic resentments that already existed between these countries and Russia on the one hand and the USA and the United Kingdom on the other. It is unclear whether this rift caused by the alliance will affect its long-term perspective after 2008 (i.e. after the end of George W. Bush's second term in office ) as a military alliance that is relevant from the point of view of the USA.

Eastern expansion of NATO in 2004

At the NATO summit on 21./22. November 2002 in Prague, NATO invited Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to accession talks. On March 29, 2004, these seven states became NATO members.

With Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, states on formerly Soviet territory became NATO members for the first time, and Slovenia became a former republic of Yugoslavia for the first time .

European missile defense program planned by the USA

NATO missile defense program

The missile defense program, known by the North Atlantic Council as Active Layered Theater Ballistic Missile Defense (ALTBMD) since September 2005, provides for the detection and combat of enemy short and medium-range missiles up to a range of 3,000 km. In July 2006, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer announced plans for a Europe-wide missile defense program. In particular, the United Kingdom, Poland and the Czech Republic are already working actively with the US in this area.

Fighting pirates in the Gulf of Aden

The USS Farragut wrecked a Somali pirate boat in March 2010

From 2008, NATO helped to protect maritime traffic in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean from Somali pirates and to strengthen the navy and coastguards of the regional states. The operation was approved by the North Atlantic Council and involves warships that came mainly from the United States. The Operation Ocean Shield focuses on the protection of the ships of Operation Allied Provider , within the framework of the World Food Program distributed in Somalia assistance. Russia, China and South Korea have sent warships to also take part in the activities. The aim of the operation is to prevent pirate attacks , protect ships and increase the general level of security in the region.

Development from 2010 to 2014

Russia's turning away from the West

After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the US government under George W. Bush (early 2001 to early 2009) temporarily pushed the National Missile Defense system and, as part of this, an interceptor missile station in Poland and a radar station in the Czech Republic. This has been criticized by the Russian government. Barack Obama announced in September 2009 that he would not build a radar station in the Czech Republic and that the interceptor missiles would be stationed at sea.

As early as 2007 at the Munich Security Conference, Russian President Putin described NATO's expansion plans as a threat to the Russian security situation and a "serious provocation".

On February 5, 2010, then President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev approved a new version of Russian military doctrine . It says that NATO is still a military threat to Russia.

Use of mobile and modular missile defense systems

On November 20, 2010, the representatives of the NATO member states decided at their summit in Lisbon to extend the planned missile shield to the territories and the population of Europe. Since 2009, the planning of stationing fixed elements has been dispensed with in both the Czech Republic and Poland, and the use of mobile and modular defense systems has been favored. The Active Layered Theater Ballistic Missile Defense Program Office , based in Brussels and The Hague, is responsible for coordinating the defense program .

At the summit in Lisbon, Russia's participation in the development of the missile defense system was agreed for the first time with President Medvedev.

The missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic should cost around 1.6 billion US dollars by 2012 and, according to US data, protect against possible missile attacks by states such as Iran and North Korea. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev interpreted the plans to build up the US missile defense systems as armament against Russia and planned to station missiles in Kaliningrad in return .

The French air force destroyed a Libyan Palmaria tank near
Benghazi in March 2011


During the uprising in Libya against the dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi , the situation escalated into civil war. Then NATO started an international military operation in Libya. With the help of Qatar , Jordan , the United Arab Emirates and Sweden , the rebels finally succeeded in overthrowing the Gaddafi regime. The mission lasted from March 19 to October 31, 2011.


During the Syrian civil war there were isolated rocket strikes from Syria on Turkish territory, whereupon Turkey appealed to the alliance in accordance with Article 4 of the NATO treaty. As a result, the NATO Council decided on December 4, 2012 to deploy Patriot anti-aircraft missiles near the Turkish-Syrian border to protect Turkey . On January 30, 2013, all missiles were ready for use as part of Operation Active Fence . However, the range is significantly shorter than the distance between their stationing locations and the Turkish-Syrian border. It also took several weeks to relocate and prepare for use. The relationship between the range and the stationing locations and the long relocation time suggest a political character of the mission rather than a purely military one. It is therefore argued that the deployment serves to demonstrate alliance solidarity with Turkey, to reassure the country and to further strategically connect Turkey to the West. On the other hand, critics of the mission such as Jan van Aken see the deployment of the missiles as a further step towards a military escalation of the conflict.

Development since 2014

War in Ukraine

The 2014 NATO summit in Newport , Wales, was shaped by the war in Ukraine and agreed on a 'NATO Readiness Action Plan'. At the beginning of April 2014, NATO discontinued military cooperation with Russia, but initially retained the political channels in the NATO-Russia Council . Graduated from the conflict in Ukraine, NATO to the NATO Response Force to one as Very High Readiness Joint Task Force ( spearhead supplement has designated) reaction force that can be laid with 3,000 to 5,000 soldiers within two to five days by air target. In addition, the Alliance's presence in the Central and Eastern European member states will be expanded. Rotating units are to be used for this purpose. In addition, the permanent maritime task forces of NATO are to be strengthened.

Framework nations concept

At the 2014 NATO summit in Wales, on a German initiative, the Framework Nations Concept, usually referred to as the "Framework Nations Concept" - FNC for short - was adopted. The aim of this concept is that a large "leaning power" offers a framework for cooperation with smaller European armed forces in which military resources are pooled, jointly planned and procured. In addition, the partners and units of their armed forces should be able to be integrated into the Bundeswehr in order to form large joint associations. In this way, a powerful association of European armies is to be created in the long term. At the beginning ten states were involved in the German FNC group, now there are 21 - including EU states that are not members of NATO. In addition to Germany, Great Britain and Italy are also pursuing their own framework nation concepts. However, these differ significantly from the German initiative in terms of objectives and measures. The framework nation concept relies on "coalitions of willing" who agree to achieve NATO planning goals through joint armaments projects. In this way, skill gaps are to be closed gradually. There are now 24 such FNC clusters.

NATO Enhanced Forward Presence

The NATO Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) is an armament initiative to secure the NATO eastern flank of the alliance and was decided on July 8th and 9th, 2016 at the NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland. It serves as a deterrent to Russia and is based on the deployment of multinational combat troops (NATO battlegroups) with around 1000 rotating soldiers each for training and exercise purposes in the Baltic states of Estonia , Latvia and Lithuania as well as Poland . Since 2016, several NATO Force Integration Units have been set up in Central and Eastern Europe to take over command and control facilities. They are filled on a rotating basis.


In 2016, the Scientific Services of the German Bundestag certified that "[e] in Turkish military operations in Syria [...] - like the military operations in France, Germany, Great Britain, the USA and other members of the so-called 'anti-IS coalition' - are subject to international law could invoke the right of self-defense in the form of the right to emergency aid under Article 51 of the UN Charter (for the benefit of France or Iraq) ”. Since the fighting was taking place on Syrian territory, no duty of assistance according to Article 5 of the NATO treaty could be derived from them. The services emphasized that they did not have to judge "[e] in military action by Turkey against the Assad regime itself or against the Syrian Kurds in Northern Syria (YPG)", since such action is not up for discussion.

In autumn 2019, however, fear arose that after the invasion of northern Syria by Turkish troops, clashes between the Turkish and Syrian military could lead to the declaration of a NATO alliance case . At a press conference, the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, in the presence of NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg, demanded a “clear and unambiguous” declaration of solidarity from NATO. Indeed, Turkey's offensive was condemned by the rest of the NATO member states. The European states represented in the UN Security Council (United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Germany and Poland) requested a special meeting to discuss how to proceed with the offensive.

Role of the US during Trump's tenure

During the presidential election campaign in 2016, Donald Trump rated NATO several times as "obsolete". Shortly before taking office, he gave reasons for this judgment: NATO was designed a long time ago and far too few member countries were paying what they had to pay. "We should protect these countries, but many of these countries don't pay what they should pay".

Shortly after his election, the then German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen appealed to Trump as elected President of the United States to maintain loyalty to the Alliance. It is the task of NATO and its member states to defend “common values” and not to “make a good deal” in monetary terms. In June 2017, Richard Herzinger criticized what he believed to be Trump's view that “the US military power is something like a private security service” that “other countries can rent, but whoever ceases its service is the customer late payment. "

In April 2017, at a meeting with Jens Stoltenberg, Trump described NATO as a “bulwark of international peace and security”. Stoltenberg then praised the US government's "very strong commitment" to the security of Europe.

In July 2018, German Chancellor Angela Merkel doubted that the US was still a reliable partner. "What we have taken to be quite natural for many decades, namely that the United States of America see itself as the power of order for the whole world, for better and for worse, is no longer guaranteed for the future," said the Chancellor at their summer press conference in Berlin. The week before, US President Donald Trump had once again questioned NATO during his trip to Europe and described the European Union as an opponent.

In January 2019, the US House of Representatives passed a NATO Support Act with 357 votes to 22 . This means that all financial means for a possible exit of the USA from NATO were blocked for the president.

NATO 2030 process

In December 2019, the NATO heads of state and government commissioned Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to lead a future-oriented reflection process to strengthen NATO. In June 2020, the Secretary-General set his priorities for NATO 2030: ensuring that NATO remains militarily strong, becomes even stronger politically and takes a more global approach.

To support the work of the Secretary-General, NATO 2030 will bring together allied parliamentarians, in particular members of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly , civil society, experts from the public and private sectors and young people to reflect on how NATO can become an even stronger alliance can be. The Secretary General will present his proposals to the Heads of State and Government of NATO at their meeting in Brussels in 2021.


Legal basis and obligations

The North Atlantic Treaty provides for a defensive alliance with the assistance of the members. The first articles of the treaty oblige the members to settle conflicts peacefully and to develop international relations on an amicable basis. The preservation of the western-liberal social order with political, economic, social and cultural cooperation and recognition of democratic principles is also part of the process. In the event of an armed attack on one of the members, the treaty obliges the other member states to undertake so-called collective self-defense .

The Member States undertake in Article 4 to meet without delay for consultations on military measures whenever a Member State so requests. These consultations have been convened four times so far (as of 2017).

The core of the duties is Article 5, which regulates the alliance case . According to this, the states can define an armed attack on a member state as an attack on all and mobilize the common capacities against the attacker. Each member state decides for itself which measures are taken according to its own rules, so there is no automatic military intervention by all members. The alliance case was declared for the first and so far only time after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 (as of 2019).

In addition, the member states decide on their defense policy commitments in the political bodies of NATO. From the outset, the member states agreed on a distribution of military capacities and capabilities, as well as regional responsibilities. In 2002 it was decided that all member states should increase their defense spending towards 2% of gross domestic product by 2024. In this way, the member states reacted to the accusation that European states have repeatedly raised, especially in the US Congress since the 1980s, of free-riding . The figure of 2% of GDP was determined purely politically and the allegation of unfair burden-sharing cannot be substantiated.

Tasks, goals and strategy development

NATO and the Warsaw Pact in the Cold War

The goals formulated in the North Atlantic Treaty have not changed in the course of its existence, because the wording of the treaty has remained unchanged since 1949. However, the tasks of NATO have been adapted to changed security policy conditions and are interpreted differently today.

During the Cold War era , NATO's main mission was to guarantee the freedom and security of its members through deterrence , armament and constant preparedness . Establishing an equivalent third, civilian pillar of NATO, as proposed by Richard Nixon in 1969 , did not succeed to the extent planned at the time. As a transnational, international organization with direct access at government level, NATO has played an important pioneering role, especially in dealing with environmental problems, including air pollution control , acid rain and the greenhouse effect .

The reunification of Germany , the collapse of the Warsaw Pact and the USSR as well as the democratization of the former Eastern Bloc countries triggered a fundamental change in the security environment in Europe. The tasks of NATO were adapted to the new situation, and according to the North Atlantic Treaty, deterrence and defense remained main tasks, but took a back seat. The focus was increasingly on dialogue and cooperation with the “old adversaries”, and various partnership programs (including Partnership for Peace ) ultimately resulted in NATO's eastward expansion .

Strategic concept for the defense of the North Atlantic region

The first Strategic Concept for the Defense of the North Atlantic area in the original "The Strategic Concept for the Defense of the North Atlantic area (DC 1.6)" was developed from December 1, 1949 and January 6, 1950 by the North Atlantic Council approved. On December 3, 1952, the Strategic Concept has been modified for the Defense of the North Atlantic area, and the strategic guidelines that defense planning and force goals culminated on December 9, 1952 in the Strategic Policy MC 14/1, also known as forward defense (Forward Strategy).

Strategy of massive retaliation

With the massive retaliation (engl. Massive retaliation ) a nuclear strategy of the NATO was designated. Their concept was to answer every hostile attack on NATO countries in Europe, whether with nuclear weapons or only with conventional armed forces , with a devastating nuclear counter-attack. This strategy ( Overall Strategic Concept for the Defense of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (MC 14/2) ) was adopted on May 23, 1957 in view of the numerical superiority of the Soviet Union in conventional armed forces in continental Europe on the one hand and the simultaneous American superiority in strategic Nuclear weapons, on the other hand, approved by the NATO Military Committee.

Flexible response / reply strategy

It was US President John F. Kennedy in 1961 picked up and was considered NATO's defense strategy (MC 14/3) of 1967 / 68 until the end of the Cold War.

The main features of a new strategy have been formulated:

  • Conflicts must be able to be responded to with a spectrum of possibilities without provoking a nuclear strike in every case.
  • Appropriately graduated military responses require the renewed involvement of conventional armed forces.
  • The aim of conventional and nuclear armed forces is to complement one another with the greatest possible flexibility.
  • In the course of his strategic considerations, the opponent must be forced to weigh up the costs and benefits.

Strategic concept 1991

At the NATO summit in Rome on 7./8. November 1991 the new strategic concept of the alliance was adopted, which, in contrast to the flexible reaction, was also supported by France. The alliance will then continue to be defensive and determined to maintain a necessary military potential to protect the alliance area. In addition, NATO offered the United Nations and the OSCE to carry out peace missions on their behalf.

Strategic concept 1999

At the NATO summit on April 24, 1999 in Washington , USA, the third strategic concept of the alliance, valid until 2010 (The Alliance's Strategic Concept), was approved. It describes goals and tasks, analyzes the security situation and derives strategic perspectives and tasks from this. Through the existence and strengthening of the transatlantic link, the closest possible transatlantic link should link the security of Europe and North America. With the maintenance and further development of effective military capabilities, the defense readiness of the members is ensured. The most important change, however, is the statement that, for conflict prevention and crisis management, military operations outside the NATO area for prophylactic security should also be possible (so-called “out-of-area operations”). Furthermore, NATO reserves the right to intervene in crisis areas even without a mandate from the United Nations (UN) (see Kosovo 1999). NATO interventions in international conflicts in which no member state is directly involved as a party to the conflict go beyond the original defense mandate and are therefore often referred to as "out-of-defense missions".

Core items:

  • Maintaining and strengthening the transatlantic link
  • Support for European security and defense policy
  • Conflict prevention and crisis management
  • Partnership, cooperation and dialogue
  • extension
  • Arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation

In the strategic concept of the alliance of 1999 on nuclear doctrine it is stated that the alliance will maintain an appropriate composition of nuclear and conventional armed forces. These are stationed in Europe. The document does not mention that NATO continues to insist on maintaining the option to use nuclear weapons for the first time. During the Cold War, NATO argued that nuclear weapons might be required to counter an overwhelming conventional attack. Also, NATO is apparently under pressure to adopt a new option already enshrined nationally by the US, UK and France, namely to respond atomically when “ rogue ” non-nuclear weapons defend their “vital interests” “Hurt anywhere in the world by the use of chemical or biological attack.

There are currently around 240 US nuclear weapons stationed in Europe within the framework of NATO.

Country Military base Number of nuclear weapons
BelgiumBelgium Belgium Kleine Brogel AB 20th
GermanyGermany Germany Büchel AB 20th
ItalyItaly Italy Aviano AB 50
Ghedi Torre AB 40
NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands Volkel AB 20th
TurkeyTurkey Turkey İncirlik AB 90
total 240

Nuclear weapons are subject to NATO's nuclear participation , i.e. they are located in countries that are officially considered non-nuclear-weapon states and have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty . The 110 nuclear weapons stored in Lakenheath, UK, until 2007 could be used by the USA without the consent of NATO and were withdrawn.

The UK has 160 to 200 of its own nuclear weapons assigned to NATO for the defense of the Alliance, with the exception of the case where the UK government decides that the highest national interests are at stake.

Strategic concept 2010

On November 19, 2010, the Alliance adopted a new strategy paper at the NATO summit in Lisbon 2010 . It provides for intensive cooperation with Russia and contains adjustments in the areas of nuclear deterrence , cyber war and the erection of a missile shield.

Maritime strategy

The new Alliance Maritime Strategy of March 18, 2011 represents a supplement to the Strategic Concept of NATO 2010 related to maritime security challenges by highlighting collective defense , crisis management and cooperative security as core tasks of NATO at sea .


NATO emblem
Organization of NATO, divided into civil and military organizations

NATO is a multilevel and complex organization that has both military and civilian administrative structures. The latter are made up of legitimate representatives of the member states. The military level is made up of military representatives from the member states. All decisions within the organization are made according to the principle of consensus , whereby the military level has to act according to the instructions of the civil level.

Civil organization

The civil organization includes the North Atlantic Council , the NATO General Secretariat with the International Staff, the Nuclear Planning Group and some other institutions, such as B. the NATO-Russia Council .

NATO headquarters

Flags in front of the NATO headquarters in Brussels and the sculpture with the NATO emblem

The political headquarters of NATO was in London from 1949 to 1952 . From April 1952 to 1967 the seat was in Paris, first in the Palais de Chaillot , later in a building built for NATO, which is now used by the University of Paris-Dauphine .

After France left the military structures of NATO, the headquarters moved to Brussels in 1967. Around 4,000 full-time employees are employed there in the northeast of the city on Boulevard Léopold III / Leopold III Laan (as of 2015). Half of these forces are deployed from the Member States as civilian and military representatives. 300 of the full-time staff work in the embassies, while the International Military Staff consists of 500 members.

After a contract for a new building was signed with Belgium in 2002 , the headquarters north of Boulevard Léopold III / Leopold III Laan was rebuilt on the former Melsbroek airfield. This was declared open on May 25, 2017 and handed over to NATO by the Belgian state.

North Atlantic Council

The North Atlantic Council (Engl. North Atlantic Council, NAC ) based in Brussels is the highest decision-making body within the Alliance and is responsible for political consultation and coordination. It is the only NATO institution that is explicitly mentioned in the North Atlantic Treaty (Article 9). The North Atlantic Council meets at least once a week at the level of the permanent representatives and twice a year at the level of the Foreign Ministers Meeting (MoFA ) and Defense Ministers Meetings (MoD ). In addition, the North Atlantic Council meets every two to three years at the level of the heads of state and government in so-called NATO summits.

NATO summit on the 50th anniversary of NATO at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium (AWMA) in Washington, DC, USA, April 1999
NATO summit in November 2002 in Prague (Czech Republic)

date location
September 17, 1949 Founding Summit in Washington, DC (USA)
16. – 19. December 1957 Paris, France)
June 26, 1974 Brussels Belgium)
29.-30. May 1975 Brussels Belgium)
10-11 May 1977 London (United Kingdom)
30.-31. May 1978 Washington, DC (USA)
9-10 June 1982 Bonn (Federal Republic of Germany)
November 21, 1985 Brussels Belgium)
2-3 March 1988 Brussels Belgium)
29.-30. May 1989 Brussels Belgium)
4th December 1989 Brussels Belgium)
5th-6th July 1990 London (United Kingdom)
7th-8th November 1991 Rome (Italy)
10-11 January 1994 Brussels Belgium)
May 27, 1997 Paris, France)
8th-9th July 1997 Madrid (Spain)
22-25 April 1999 Washington, DC (USA)
June 13, 2001 Brussels Belgium)
May 28, 2002 Rome (Italy)
21-22 November 2002 Prague (Czech Republic)
28-29 June 2004 Istanbul (Turkey)
13-14 October 2004 Poiana Brașov (Romania)
February 22, 2005 Brussels Belgium)
28-29 November 2006 Riga (Latvia)
2-4 April 2008 Bucharest (Romania)
3-4 April 2009 Baden-Baden and Kehl am Rhein (Germany),
Strasbourg (France)
19. – 20. November 2010 Lisbon (Portugal)
21-22 May 2012 Chicago (USA)
4th to 5th September 2014 Newport (United Kingdom)
8th-9th July 2016 Warsaw (Poland)
24.-25. May 2017 Brussels Belgium)
11-12 July 2018 Brussels Belgium)

NATO General Secretariat and International Staff

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg with Donald Trump and Angela Merkel on July 11, 2018

The Secretary General is the chairman of the North Atlantic Council and heads the General Secretariat with the International Staff ( IS ). In addition, the Secretary General will chair the Nuclear Planning Group (Engl. Nuclear Planning Group, NPG ), which since 1967 the Committee on Defense Questions (Engl. Nuclear Defense Affairs Committee, NDAC ) replaced. He also chaired the Defense Planning Committee until it was disbanded in 2010.

The Secretary General facilitates decision-making, controls the discussions and ensures that decisions once made are implemented. As the highest representative of NATO, he represents the organization in public. He is unanimously appointed for a four-year term of office by all member states with the possibility of an extension to a fifth year. As long as a candidate does not reach a consensus , the office remains vacant.

General Secretaries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization
No. picture Surname country Beginning of the term of office Term expires
1 The Lord Ismay.jpg Hastings Ismay, 1st Baron Ismay United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom April 4th 1952 May 16, 1957
2 Federal Archives Image 183-39998-0427, Paul-Henri Spaak.jpg Paul-Henri Spaak BelgiumBelgium Belgium May 16, 1957 April 21, 1961
3 Stikker, Dirk - SFA002019718.jpg Dirk Stikker NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands April 21, 1961 August 1, 1964
4th Manlio Brosio.jpg Manlio Giovanni Brosio ItalyItaly Italy August 1, 1964 1st October 1971
5 Luns, JMAH - SFA008007314.jpg Joseph Luns NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands 1st October 1971 June 25, 1984
6th Peter Carington 1984.jpg Peter Carington, 6th Baron Carrington United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom June 25, 1984 July 1, 1988
7th Manfred Woerner 1993.jpg Manfred Woerner GermanyGermany Germany July 1, 1988 August 13, 1994
- Sergio Balanzino.jpg Sergio Balanzino ItalyItaly Italy August 13, 1994 17th October 1994
8th Willy Claes - Filip Naudts.jpg Willy Claes BelgiumBelgium Belgium 17th October 1994 October 20, 1995
- Sergio Balanzino.jpg Sergio Balanzino ItalyItaly Italy October 20, 1995 5th December 1995
9 Javier Solana 1999.jpg Javier Solana SpainSpain Spain 5th December 1995 October 6, 1999
10 Official portrait of Lord Robertson of Port Ellen 2020 crop 2.jpg George Robertson United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom October 14, 1999 December 17, 2003
- Alessandro Minuto-Rizzo ItalyItaly Italy December 17, 2003 December 31, 2003
11 Hoop Scheffer I (crop) .jpg Jaap de Hoop Scheffer NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands January 1, 2004 July 31, 2009
12th Former Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the Nordic Council Session in Helsinki 2008-10-28.jpg Not so Fogh Rasmussen DenmarkDenmark Denmark August 1, 2009 September 30, 2014
13th NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.jpg Jens Stoltenberg NorwayNorway Norway October 1, 2014 officiating

Persons with names in italics only held the office temporarily.

Deputy General Secretaries

No. Surname country Beginning of the term of office Term expires
1 Jonkheer van Vredenburch NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands 1952 1956
2 Baron Adolph Bentinck NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands 1956 1958
3 Alberico Casardi ItalyItaly Italy 1958 1962
4th Guido Colonna di Paliano ItalyItaly Italy 1962 1964
5 James A. Roberts CanadaCanada Canada 1964 1968
6th Osman Olcay TurkeyTurkey Turkey 1969 1971
7th Paolo Pansa Cedronio ItalyItaly Italy 1971 1978
8th Rinaldo Petrignani ItalyItaly Italy 1978 1981
9 Eric da Rin ItalyItaly Italy 1981 1985
10 Marcello Guidi ItalyItaly Italy 1985 1989
11 Amedeo de Franchis ItalyItaly Italy 1989 1994
12th Sergio Balanzino ItalyItaly Italy 1994 2001
13th Alessandro Minuto Rizzo ItalyItaly Italy 2001 2007
14th Claudio Bisogniero ItalyItaly Italy 2007 2012
15th Alexander Vershbow United StatesUnited States United States 2012 2016
16 Rose Gottemoeller United StatesUnited States United States 2016 2019
17th Mircea Geoana RomaniaRomania Romania 2019 officiating

Other institutions

Since 1955 also exists NATO Parliamentary Assembly (Engl. NATO Parliamentary Assembly, the NATO-PA ), which was referred to since its inception in 1955 to June 1991 as the North Atlantic Assembly. The assembly meets twice a year in different member countries for a spring and an autumn meeting. The assembly currently has 257 parliamentarians from 28 NATO member states and 66 parliamentarians from 14 associated countries.


NATO is officially supported in its work by national Atlantic societies organized in the Atlantic Treaty Association , which work for them primarily in the field of public relations. In Germany this is the German Atlantic Society .

Military organization

The military organization includes the Military Committee , the International Military Staff and the Allied Operations and Transformation Commands .

NATO Military Committee

The NATO Military Committee (Engl. Military Committee, MC ), the highest military decision-making and advisory body within the Alliance is the North Atlantic Council assumed and meets twice a year at the level of representatives appointed by the Chiefs of the National Military Representative (Engl. National Military Representatives , NMR ). The committee advises NATO's civil decision-making bodies - the North Atlantic Council and the Nuclear Planning Group - on military matters. The members of the military committee have also been electing a chairman ( Chairman of the Military Committee, CMC ) since 1963 , whose office has been carried out by the Czech General Petr Pavel since June 26, 2015 . His predecessor was the Danish General Knud Bartels from November 16, 2011 to June 26, 2015 .

The committee consists of the chiefs of staff (from Germany the inspector general of the Bundeswehr ) of all member states involved in the military integration of NATO or their representatives. He advises on specific military measures, which are then recommended to the North Atlantic Council .

International military staff

As an executive body, the NATO Military Committee has an International Military Staff (IMS ), which consists of several departments and includes around 500 civil and military employees.

NATO command structure and military integration

The Allied Command Operation ( ACO ) directs all military operations of NATO. The operational supreme command is the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), who has always been an American general or admiral , as they provide a large part of the resources.

Supreme Allied Commanders Europe of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization
No. Surname country Beginning of the appointment End of appointment
1 Dwight D. Eisenhower United States 48United States United States April 2, 1951 May 30, 1952
2 Matthew B. Ridgway United States 48United States United States May 30, 1952 July 11, 1953
3 Alfred M. Gruenther United States 48United States United States June 11, 1953 November 20, 1956
4th Lauris Norstad United StatesUnited States United States November 20, 1956 January 1, 1963
5 Lyman L. Lemnitzer United StatesUnited States United States January 1, 1963 July 1, 1969
6th Andrew J. Goodpaster United StatesUnited States United States July 1, 1969 15th December 1974
7th Alexander Haig United StatesUnited States United States 15th December 1974 July 1, 1979
8th Bernard W. Rogers United StatesUnited States United States July 1, 1979 June 26, 1987
9 John R. Galvin United StatesUnited States United States June 26, 1987 June 23, 1992
10 John M. Shalikashvili United StatesUnited States United States June 23, 1992 October 22, 1993
11 George A. Joulwan United StatesUnited States United States October 22, 1993 June 11, 1997
12th Wesley Clark United StatesUnited States United States July 11, 1997 May 3, 2000
13th Joseph W. Ralston United StatesUnited States United States May 3, 2000 January 17, 2003
14th James L. Jones United StatesUnited States United States January 17, 2003 December 7, 2006
15th Bantz J. Craddock United StatesUnited States United States December 7, 2006 June 2, 2009
16 James G. Stavridis United StatesUnited States United States June 2, 2009 13th of May 2013
17th Philip M. Breedlove United StatesUnited States United States 13th of May 2013 4th May 2016
18th Curtis M. Scaparrotti United StatesUnited States United States 4th May 2016 May 3, 2019
19th Death of D. Wolters United StatesUnited States United States May 3, 2019 officiating

There is also a parallel command level, the Allied Command Transformation ( ACT ), whose task is the integration of the national armed forces. He is headed by the Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (SACT). The two Allied commands are subordinate to the Military Committee .

NATO military headquarters in Europe

Originally, the European NATO headquarters (English Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, SHAPE ) has been in Rocquencourt near Paris since July 1952 . After France's withdrawal from NATO military structures, the move to Casteau near Mons in Belgium took place on March 31, 1967 .

Defense spending

In 2014, all NATO members spent a total of US $ 942.820 billion (rounded) (out of around 1.776 trillion worldwide ) on defense. Of this, the United States accounted for 654.264 billion, European Member States 270.405 billion, and Canada the remaining 18.150 billion .

Defense budget (in US $ million) at constant prices and exchange rates (2010)
Member State 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 1
AlbaniaAlbania Albania 186 1.56 187 1.53 184 1.49 177 1.41 172 1.35 152 1.17 149 1.10 155 1.10
BelgiumBelgium Belgium 5,245 1.08 5,137 1.04 5.123 1.04 4,996 1.01 4,898 0.98 4,691 0.92 4,754 0.92 4,719 0.90
BulgariaBulgaria Bulgaria 2 832 1.64 681 1.32 691 1.34 757 1.46 695 1.32 689 1.26 715 1.26 904 1.53
CroatiaCroatia Croatia 920 1.54 952 1.60 891 1.53 847 1.47 808 1.41 801 1.37 741 1.23 787 1.26
Czech RepublicCzech Republic Czech Republic 2,660 1.28 2,258 1.07 2,207 1.05 2.138 1.03 2,035 0.95 2,319 1.03 2.210 0.96 2,530 1.05
DenmarkDenmark Denmark 4,504 1.40 4,286 1.31 4,421 1.35 4,051 1.23 3,855 1.15 3,805 1.12 4,069 1.17 4.158 1.17
EstoniaEstonia Estonia 332 1.70 352 1.68 415 1.90 426 1.91 449 1.96 479 2.05 507 2.13 518 2.08
FranceFrance France 51,971 1.96 50,439 1.87 50,721 1.87 50,711 1.86 50.096 1.82 49,619 1.79 50,376 1.79 51.097 1.79
GermanyGermany Germany 46,255 1.35 45,378 1.28 46,675 1.31 43,783 1.22 43.204 1.18 43,752 1.18 45.223 1.20 47,909 1.24
GreeceGreece Greece 7.902 2.64 6,482 2.38 5,782 2.29 5,401 2.21 5,419 2.20 5,662 2.31 5,880 2.41 5,845 2.36
HungaryHungary Hungary 1,351 1.03 1,392 1.05 1,354 1.03 1,265 0.95 1,203 0.86 1,327 0.92 1,508 1.02 1,615 1.06
ItalyItaly Italy 28,656 1.35 27,746 1.30 25,853 1.24 24,536 1.20 22,130 1.08 20,840 1.01 23,323 1.12 23,715 1.12
LatviaLatvia Latvia 251 1.06 256 1.01 232 0.88 250 0.93 257 0.93 295 1.04 422 1.46 530 1.75
LithuaniaLithuania Lithuania 326 0.88 312 0.79 309 0.76 323 0.76 385 0.88 507 1.14 680 1.49 821 1.73
LuxembourgLuxembourg Luxembourg 248 0.47 211 0.39 206 0.38 213 0.38 227 0.38 265 0.43 254 0.40 299 0.46
MontenegroMontenegro Montenegro 74 1.80 75 1.75 69 1.66 63 1.47 66 1.50 64 1.40 66 1.42 76 1.58
NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands 11,220 1.34 10,670 1.25 10,367 1.23 9,747 1.16 9,766 1.15 9,791 1.12 10,225 1.15 10,610 1.15
NorwayNorway Norway 6,499 1.51 6,530 1.51 6,556 1.47 6,659 1.48 6,947 1.51 6,833 1.46 7,281 1.54 7,826 1.62
PolandPoland Poland 8,493 1.77 8,667 1.72 8,904 1.74 8,910 1.72 9,927 1.85 12,346 2.22 11,415 2.00 11,892 1.99
PortugalPortugal Portugal 3,540 1.49 3,489 1.49 3,155 1.41 3,203 1.44 2,929 1.31 3,023 1.33 2,956 1.28 3,104 1.31
RomaniaRomania Romania 2,086 1.24 2,180 1.28 2,090 1.22 2,264 1.28 2,460 1.35 2,750 1.45 2,796 1.41 3,770 1.80
SlovakiaSlovakia Slovakia 1,138 1.27 999 1.09 1,022 1.09 934 0.98 964 0.99 1,142 1.13 1,170 1.12 1,283 1.19
SloveniaSlovenia Slovenia 772 1.61 627 1.30 551 1.17 490 1.05 467 0.97 456 0.93 508 1.00 518 0.98
SpainSpain Spain 14,743 1.03 13,319 0.94 14,327 1.04 12,519 0.93 12,560 0.92 13,130 0.93 11.802 0.81 13,957 0.92
TurkeyTurkey Turkey 14,134 1.83 14,027 1.64 14,289 1.59 14,799 1.52 14,911 1.45 15,128 1.39 16,413 1.46 17,586 1.48
United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom 60,329 2.47 59,368 2.40 54,517 2.17 58,269 2.27 57,399 2.17 55,761 2.06 59,227 2.15 59,155 2.12
CanadaCanada Canada 18,690 1.16 20,504 1.23 18,557 1.10 17,158 0.99 18,015 1.01 21,615 1.20 21,102 1.16 24,229 1.29
United StatesUnited States United States 720.423 4.81 726.021 4.78 686.280 4.42 644.772 4.08 611.089 3.77 593.737 3.56 603.046 3.56 617.669 3.57
NATO total 1,013,705 3.03 1,012,469 2.97 965.676 2.81 919,596 2.64 883.264 2.48 870.915 2.39 888.752 2.40 917.277 2.42

Explanations :
1 Estimated,
2 Does not include pensions,
The entire NATO defense budget for 2017 includes Montenegro for the first time

NATO membership and partnership

Map of NATO affiliations in Europe World map of NATO affiliations
A map of Europe with countries in blue, cyan, orange, and yellow based on their NATO affiliation. A world map with countries in blue, cyan, orange, yellow, purple, and green, based on their NATO affiliation.

Member States

NATO currently has 30 members. The twelve founding members - they have belonged to NATO since 1949 - are Belgium , Denmark , France , Iceland , Italy , Canada , Luxembourg , the Kingdom of the Netherlands , Norway , Portugal , the United States of America and the United Kingdom .

From 1949 to 1962, the French departments in Algeria were also expressly part of the NATO treaty area. Until Malta's independence in September 1964, the Mediterranean island was also part of the NATO treaty area as a British colony. Until March 31, 1979, NATO and the British Navy were able to use Malta as a military base for extensive financial aid (details here ).

AlbaniaAlbania Albania CanadaCanada Canada SlovakiaSlovakia Slovakia
BelgiumBelgium Belgium CroatiaCroatia Croatia RomaniaRomania Romania
BulgariaBulgaria Bulgaria LatviaLatvia Latvia SloveniaSlovenia Slovenia
DenmarkDenmark Denmark LithuaniaLithuania Lithuania PortugalPortugal Portugal
GermanyGermany Germany LuxembourgLuxembourg Luxembourg SpainSpain Spain
EstoniaEstonia Estonia MontenegroMontenegro Montenegro Czech RepublicCzech Republic Czech Republic
FranceFrance France NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands TurkeyTurkey Turkey
GreeceGreece Greece North MacedoniaNorth Macedonia North Macedonia HungaryHungary Hungary
IcelandIceland Iceland NorwayNorway Norway United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
ItalyItaly Italy PolandPoland Poland United StatesUnited States United States

Turkey and Greece joined the organization in 1952 , and the Federal Republic of Germany has been a member of NATO since 1955 . Spain joined the alliance in 1982, and in 1990 the North Atlantic Treaty was extended to all of Germany .

There were peculiarities with regard to France, which was no longer integrated into the military structures of NATO from 1966 to 2009. The reason for France's exit was that Charles de Gaulle did not accept NATO as a perceived instrument of US interests. He wanted to preserve France's military independence and freedom of choice and not subordinate French troops to US command. After the Yugoslavia crisis , the French government changed its position within NATO and, since the end of 1995, has again participated in the meetings of the Defense Planning Committee (DPC) without entering into NATO's integrated military structures. In the spring of 2009, Nicolas Sarkozy declared that he wanted to reintegrate France into the military structures immediately. On March 17, the National Assembly approved Sarkozy's plan to fully return France to the command structure.

Greece from 1974 to 1981 and Spain from 1986 to 1999 were also temporarily withdrawn from the military structure.

Iceland , which does not have its own armed forces, is a special case . The defense of Iceland was guaranteed until 2006 by the United States, which in 1951 committed itself to the defense of Iceland in a bilateral defense agreement , the Agreement Between the United States and the Republic of Iceland, May 5, 1951 . The US government decided on March 19, 2006 unilaterally and surprisingly for Iceland to withdraw the US armed forces. The last US soldiers left Iceland on September 30, 2006. Nevertheless, the USA continues to guarantee the military protection of Iceland in the event of an attack. The government of Iceland has committed itself to providing medical assistance in the event of an alliance. Iceland is only as observers in the Nuclear Planning Group and appoint a civilian representative to meetings of the Defense Planning Committee (DPC) and the Military Committee ( Military Committee ).

In 1999 the Czech Republic , Poland and Hungary became members of NATO as part of NATO's eastward expansion . Afterwards, the countries Estonia , Latvia , Lithuania , Slovakia , Slovenia , Bulgaria and Romania were invited and joined NATO on March 29, 2004. Albania and Croatia received an invitation to join the military alliance at the summit in Bucharest on April 3, 2008, and signed the accession protocols in Brussels on July 9 (four weeks before the start of the war in Georgia ). Their accession was planned for the NATO summit in Kehl and Strasbourg in April 2009 , ratified by all NATO members and completed on April 1, 2009.

On December 2, 2015, an official invitation was issued to Montenegro at a meeting of the foreign ministers of the NATO countries ; it joined NATO in June 2017. In the case of North Macedonia , the necessary negotiations were blocked by Greece until 2019 because of the dispute over its name . Greece and Macedonia agreed on a name in June 2018 and paved the way for North Macedonia to join NATO. On February 2, 2019, Jens Stoltenberg tweeted that NATO was signing an accession protocol with North Macedonia. On March 27, 2020, North Macedonia finally joined the military alliance.


The Federal Republic of Germany joined NATO during the summit conference in Paris in May 1955
Postage stamp of the Deutsche Bundespost (1980) : 25 years of the Federal Republic of Germany in NATO , designed by Holger Börnsen

Since the Federal Republic of Germany joined NATO in 1955, the role and participation have changed considerably. In the years leading up to reunification, the Bundeswehr was designed as an alliance army . There were no national management structures for the incident; In the event of an alliance, the German units were subordinate to the NATO commanders. Some units, especially from the air force and the German navy , were already directly subordinate to NATO in peacetime and were always operationally managed by NATO.

With the establishment of the unity of Germany from October 3, 1990, the areas of the former GDR and the two parts of Berlin also became part of the NATO area. According to the two-plus-four treaty , however, non-German NATO troops may not be stationed in East Germany on a permanent basis, which makes this geographical area a "white spot" within the NATO area, which has now expanded to include many Central and Eastern European countries.

In the period up to 1990, the task of the Bundeswehr was exclusively to defend its own national territory . This changed when Germany achieved full sovereignty in the course of reunification . Since the early 1990s, German soldiers have participated in so-called peacekeeping and peacekeeping missions that were carried out in cooperation with the other allies. Bundeswehr missions outside the alliance area (out-of-area missions) are now also being carried out:

Domestically, it was controversial whether the Federal Government's approval of the 1999 Strategic Concept required the approval of the Bundestag. This would have been the case if the 1999 concept had been an amendment to the North Atlantic Pact Treaty. The Federal Constitutional Court denied this in an organ dispute initiated by the PDS parliamentary group, essentially on the grounds that the wording of the treaty would remain untouched, in particular that the defense mandate continued to exist and the out-of-area missions within the scope of the task described in the NATO treaty to maintain peacekeeping in compliance with international law .

Since 1955, the following Germans, among others, have been appointed to central leadership positions at NATO:

  • Manfred Wörner was NATO Secretary General from 1988-1993
  • General Adolf Heusinger was chairman of the NATO military committee from 1961 to 1964
  • General Johannes Steinhoff was chairman of the NATO military committee from 1971 to 1974
  • General Wolfgang Altenburg was Chairman of the NATO Military Committee from 1985 to 1989
  • General Klaus Naumann , 1996–1999 Chairman of the NATO Military Committee
  • Günther Johannes Altenburg , Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs 2001–2005
  • General Harald Kujat , 2002–2005 Chairman of the NATO Military Committee
  • Lieutenant General Heinrich Brauß , 2013–2018 Assistant Secretary General for Defense Policy and Force Planning
  • Ambassador Bettina Cadenbach , Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and Security Policy since 2019

With 122 million euros, Germany contributes over 18% of the NATO military budget, making it the second largest contributor after the USA and ahead of France and the United Kingdom.

Candidates for membership and partnerships

  • Member States
  • Candidate Countries (MAP)
  • Promised invitation
  • No joining planned
  • Attitude towards joining unknown
  • Candidate country Bosnia and Herzegovina

    At the summit in Bucharest in April 2008, the heads of state and government of the NATO member states decided to open accession negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina . On December 5, 2018, the foreign ministers decided to activate the candidate country action plan (MAP). The ministers had previously rearranged the order of the chapters in the accession negotiations.


    In 2007 the Serbian Parliament passed a resolution on military neutrality. From a military point of view, Serbia is currently the strongest country in the Western Balkans . The discussion about membership in the military alliance is both politically and socially contrary. Although Serbia participates in the Partnership for Peace program, and the armed forces of Serbia have a training program with the Ohio National Guard , there is disagreement within the Serbian parties about actual integration into the structures of the military alliance. Then Defense Minister Dragan Šutanovac said in 2009 that Serbia is unlikely to apply for full membership in NATO, but that it intends to strengthen its partnership with the Alliance through increased participation in international operations. There is also resistance on the part of the influential Serbian Orthodox Church , which would like to leave this decision to the people, and a traditional pro-Russian sentiment in the Balkan state, which is questioning the country's possible membership of NATO. The condemnation of NATO's intervention in the Kosovo war of 1999 by the Serbian government is also not insignificant . Annually there are commemorative events for the victims of the bombing of Serbia at the time, which is often referred to in politics and the media as "NATO aggression".

    In contrast, Kosovo wants to join NATO as soon as possible. Before accession, however, recognition by all member states is necessary so that accession can be ratified.

    Georgia wants to join NATO; the United States supported Georgia’s acceptance into a membership preparatory program. The Western European NATO states refused to negotiate this out of consideration for Russia, whereas the Eastern European NATO states wanted to start negotiations with Georgia as soon as possible; they referred to the Caucasus conflict . Germany and France in particular emphasized that Georgia, with its claim to Abkhazia and South Ossetia , which have declared themselves independent with Russia's support, would destabilize NATO.

    Ireland , Sweden , Finland , Malta , Austria , Switzerland and Serbia work with NATO in the Partnership for Peace program . In Switzerland, this is seen by some as a gradual rapprochement until joining NATO, which has been controversial for years. For historical reasons, Austria showed no interest in membership in 2008 . In Finland and Sweden during the Caucasus conflict , a possible NATO accession was discussed.

    Donald Rumsfeld and Victoria Nuland during the NATO-Ukraine consultations in Vilnius (2005)

    Under Yulia Tymoshenko , Ukraine also sought quick NATO membership, but after the 2010 presidential elections in Ukraine, the new pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych withdrew from Ukraine's possible membership of NATO and emphasized its status as a non-aligned country. Yanukovych justified this with the fact that the majority of Ukrainians refuse to join NATO. On November 22nd, 2018, the Ukrainian parliament passed the draft law No. 9037 “On the amendment of the Constitution of Ukraine on the irreversibility of the Ukrainian course towards European and Euro-Atlantic integration” with 311 votes. Since the Euromaidan in 2014 and the election of Volodymyr Zelenskyi as president in 2019, Ukraine has come closer to NATO again. In 2020, an even closer link was declared with the inclusion of Ukraine in the Enhanced Opportunities Program , which allows the country to participate in NATO maneuvers and cooperation projects as well as access to selected secret alliance information. As of 2020, Australia , Finland, Georgia, Jordan and Sweden were participants in the Enhanced Opportunities Program . At the summit in Brussels in June 2021, NATO reaffirmed the decision it made at the Bucharest summit in 2008 to bring Ukraine closer to the alliance with the prospect of the Membership Action Plan (MAP) and, of course, the rights of Ukraine, its future and foreign policy independently and to be determined without outside interference.

    Mediterranean Dialogue and Israel

    In the course of the expansion of NATO's activities in the Mediterranean region, the Middle East and Central Asia, a number of bodies were set up to promote cooperation between NATO members and their partner countries. This includes the Mediterranean Dialogue , which was founded in 1994 and to which, in addition to the NATO member states, six Arab states and Israel belong.

    Because of the Middle East conflict, politicians, especially from the United States, are calling for Israel to join NATO, which they believe could contribute to peace in the region. Israel is a major non-NATO ally of the United States and would particularly like to intensify relations with the EU and NATO. However, Israel did not want to make a final decision on membership in 2005.

    End of membership

    According to Article 13, the end of membership must be notified to the US government, and the termination is final one year later. "After the contract has been in effect for twenty years, either party may terminate the contract one year after notifying the United States Government of the termination."

    The exclusion of a member is not provided for in the NATO treaty. The treaty also does not regulate the event that a member state starts a war of aggression. In such a case, Article 60, Paragraph 3b of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (WVRK) of May 23, 1969, according to which a “substantial violation” of a treaty (here: the NATO treaty) can lead to the exclusion of the accused party to the contract, is applicable . In the case of the NATO treaty, this applies in particular to the duty of all contracting parties to endeavor to resolve disputes peacefully.

    Criticism of NATO

    Demonstration during the NATO summit in Istanbul in June 2004

    Critics on the part of the peace movement point out that peaceful and just solutions or at least compromises in the many conflicts and conflicting interests cannot be achieved through military alliances and war , but only through institutions such as the United Nations and the OSCE . You see in NATO a military alliance which should secure the economic and strategic interests of the West, especially the USA.

    In February 2017 in IPG-Journal , Jonathan Power, a columnist for the International Herald Tribune , agreed with Donald Trump's view that NATO is "obsolete". The alliance cannot solve Europe's current problems. NATO cannot be classified as an alliance of equal partners. “In the case of Ukraine, her hands are tied, and she cannot make any contribution to the refugee crisis either. It cannot change the tensions that arise in the face of dwindling water supplies in the Middle East, which, according to a study by the European Union, can be expected and which will have serious consequences for European economic and security interests. In the fight against terrorism, NATO, as a military organization, cannot do much either. Domestically, each government is individually confronted with this problem. The operations against Al-Qaeda and the 'Islamic State' in Syria and Iraq are carried out by the USA, Great Britain, France and Russia on their own. "

    See also


    • Bastian Giegerich : NATO (=  elements of politics ). Springer VS, Wiesbaden 2012, ISBN 978-3-531-18409-8 .
    • Christian Greiner, Klaus A. Maier , Heinz Rebhan: NATO as a military alliance. Strategy, organization and nuclear control in the alliance. 1949 to 1959 (=  origin and problems of the Atlantic Alliance , volume 4). On behalf of the Military History Research Office, ed. by Bruno Thoß , Oldenbourg, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-486-56757-8 .
    • Gunther Hauser : NATO - transformation, tasks, goals . Lang, Frankfurt am Main [a. a.] 2008, ISBN 978-3-631-57367-9 .
    • Mary Ann Heiss, S. Victor Papacosma (Ed.): NATO and the Warsaw Pact - Intrabloc Conflicts . Kent State University Press, Kent 2008, ISBN 978-0-87338-936-5 (English).
    • Dieter Krüger: At the abyss? The Age of Alliances: North Atlantic Alliance and Warsaw Pact 1947 to 1991. Parzellers Buchverlag, Fulda 2013, ISBN 978-3-7900-0459-5 .
    • Heiko Reiter: The new security architecture of NATO. From a defense alliance to a community of interests . In: KJ 2007, pp. 124–143.
    • Lothar Schröter, NATO in the Cold War 1949–1991, two volumes, Berlin 2009, 1196 pp.
    • Lennart Taschenbrecker: The international legal assessment of NATO missions since the end of the Soviet Union from the perspective of the NATO treaty , Berlin (Duncker & Humblot) 2020. ISBN 978-3-428-15860-7 . ISBN 3-428-15860-1 . ISBN 978-3-428-55860-5 .
    • Sascha Thamm: NATO's institutional reactions to the crises of the alliance. From the foundation to the NATO double decision . Der Andere Verlag, Osnabrück 2002, ISBN 3-936231-40-0 .
    • Johannes Varwick (ed.): Relations between NATO and the EU. Partnership, competition, rivalry? Barbara Budrich, Leverkusen 2005, ISBN 3-938094-10-9 .

    Web links

    Wiktionary: NATO  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
    Commons : NATO  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files


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    105. WDR Europa Forum: Thaci confirms that Kosovo is striving for membership in the European Union as well as in NATO.
    106. ^ Accession of Georgia and Ukraine. NATO threatens new dispute , Süddeutsche Zeitung , accessed on May 17, 2010.
    107. Ukraine and Georgia are not allowed in NATO , Welt Online for the time being .
    108. ↑ Going it alone in the military - an illusion , interview with security expert Spillmann,, April 16, 2010.
    109. "Austria would still be welcome" , of April 2, 2008.
    110. Finns and Swedes are considering joining NATO .
    111. Finland and Sweden discuss joining NATO , in: Berliner Morgenpost from September 1, 2008.
    112. Item 23: NATO welcomes the Euro-Atlantic efforts of Ukraine and Georgia to join the alliance. We agreed today (sc. April 4, 2008) that these countries will become NATO members. Both states have made valuable contributions to alliance operations. We welcome the democratic reforms in Ukraine and Georgia and hope for free and fair parliamentary elections in Georgia in May. MAP status is the next step for Ukraine and Georgia on their direct path to membership. Today we make it clear that we support the MAP applications from these countries. We will therefore now enter a phase of intensive engagement at a high political level with both of them in order to resolve the outstanding questions in connection with their MAP applications. Summit Declaration in Bucharest, April 2-4, 2008 Meeting of the North Atlantic Council at the level of heads of state and government ( Memento from January 1, 2015 in the Internet Archive ); MAP means Membership Action Plan, see Hannelore Crolly, Ukraine and Georgia are not allowed in NATO for the time being, Die Welt December 1, 2008, previous note.
    113. Ukraine moves away from NATO membership , in: Rheinische Post from April 6, 2010.
    114. Selensky reaffirms Ukraine's pro-Western course in Brussels - NATO pledges further support in the Black Sea , in: Neue Zürcher Zeitung of May 4, 2019.
    115. DER SPIEGEL: NATO is entering into an even closer partnership with Ukraine - DER SPIEGEL - Politics. Retrieved June 12, 2020 .
    116. NATO - News: Brussels Summit Communiqué issued by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Brussels 14 June 2021, 14-Jun.-2021
    117. Johannes Varwick : The NATO. From defense alliance to world police? , Munich 2008, ISBN 978-3-406-56809-1 , p. 111ff.
    118. Israel in NATO! .
    119. Israel's Ambassador for NATO Membership , in: Handelsblatt, January 31, 2008.
    120. ^ Israel seeks proximity to NATO and the EU , in: Handelsblatt from January 26, 2005.
    122. Scientific services of the German Bundestag: Legal options for excluding a NATO member state from the NATO alliance . January 25, 2018. p. 7 f.
    123. ^ Criticism of NATO summits from the peace movement .
    124. The “No to War - No to NATO” initiative
    125. Jonathan Power: Trump is right: NATO is obsolete - the military alliance cannot solve Europe's current problems. . IPG journal. February 27, 2017.

    Coordinates: 50 ° 52 ′ 50 ″  N , 4 ° 25 ′ 20 ″  E