[EXCERPTS] Final Communiqué

Press Communiqué M-NAC(DM)-3(96)172
Meeting of the
North Atlantic Council In Defence Ministers Session
held in Brussels 18 December 1996
  1. The North Atlantic Council met in Defence Ministers Session in Brussels on 17th and 18th December.

  2. The Alliance's fundamental objective remains the creation of a Europe whole and free, through the promotion of peace, democracy, security, stability and cooperation. NATO has done much to adapt itself to meet the new security challenges which it faces in the fundamentally changed strategic environment in Europe. At the Summits in 1990, 1991, and 1994, the leaders of the Alliance set out the broad vision of a new NATO and its role in the development of a new European security architecture. This vision was further defined at the meetings of Foreign and Defence Ministers in Berlin and Brussels earlier this year.

  3. We are committed to ensuring the Alliance's military effectiveness; to strengthening the transatlantic link; to developing the European Security and Defence Identity within the Alliance; to expanding our efforts beyond the core function of collective defence to crisis management; and to fostering Partnership and cooperation throughout the Euro-Atlantic area. On this basis, the Alliance will continue to maintain its effectiveness as a highly capable political and military organisation of sovereign member nations committed to common values and objectives.

  4. We warmly welcome the decision of the Government of Spain, endorsed by the Spanish Parliament on 14th November 1996, to take the necessary steps to participate in the Alliance's new structure. Spain's participation will further strengthen the cohesion and military effectiveness of the Alliance, as it takes on new roles and missions, reinforce the transatlantic link and help develop ESDI within the Alliance.

  5. The Alliance is now preparing for an historic summit in Madrid on 8th-9th July, 1997, in order to take further, far-reaching decisions on its internal and external adaptation, thereby consolidating Euro-Atlantic security. As Defence Ministers, we are determined to provide our full support and contribution to shaping an active and visible role for the Alliance guided by the clear aims of cooperation and stability. In addition to the importance that we continue to attach to an effective NATO, to the development of ESDI within the Alliance, to the process of its opening to further members as well as to the enhancement of the Partnership for Peace, we underline our sincere readiness to develop a strong and cooperative security partnership with Russia and to strengthen our distinctive relationship with Ukraine.

External Adaptation

  1. We attach great importance to the various aspects of the Alliance's external adaptation, including the preparations for opening the Alliance to new members, the enhancement of the Partnership for Peace, and the quest for close and cooperative relations with all our Partners, and in particular Russia and Ukraine.

  2. We look forward to the prospect of one or more countries being invited by our Heads of State and Government to begin accession negotiations, while recalling that the Alliance will remain open to the accession of further members as stated by Foreign Ministers last week. The Council in Permanent Session has been tasked to prepare comprehensive recommendations for decisions to be taken by the Summit on which country or countries to invite to begin accession negotiations. The accession of new members will, like other aspects of the Alliance's adaptation, help to consolidate the security and stability of the entire Euro-Atlantic area. Against this background we reviewed the results of the intensified dialogue on enlargement conducted with interested Partners during the past year. In the course of these frank and detailed discussions, we have learned much about the contribution that individual Partners could make to the Alliance, and in turn have given a fuller understanding of the rights and obligations of membership to all those countries who have expressed an interest in NATO membership. We welcomed the decision to continue such a dialogue as agreed by Foreign Ministers last week. As part of a comprehensive process to prepare for the political decisions to be taken at the Summit, we direct the Council in Permanent Session, within the overall mandate from Foreign Ministers to elaborate political guidance, to task the NATO Military Authorities to carry out for those countries, on the basis of the general considerations set out in the Enlargement Study, analyses of the military factors associated with the accession of potential new members. At the same time, we direct the Council in Permanent Session to task the committees responsible for financial matters to assess the resource implications. This work should be completed as soon as possible.

  3. We reaffirm that the nuclear forces of the Allies continue to play a unique and essential role in the Alliance's strategy of war prevention. New members, who will be full members of the Alliance in all respects, will be expected to support the concept of deterrence and the essential role nuclear weapons play in the Alliance's strategy. Enlarging the Alliance will not require a change in NATO's current nuclear posture, and therefore, NATO countries have no intention, no plan, and no reason to deploy nuclear weapons on the territory of new members nor any need to change any aspect of NATO's nuclear posture or nuclear policy -- and we do not foresee any future need to do so.

  4. The Partnership for Peace continues to play a dynamic and important role in the development of a new European security architecture. We accordingly attach great importance to the enhancement of the Partnership and endorse the recommendations made in this regard by the Council in Permanent Session.

  5. As an important part of this enhancement, the agreed fields of military missions within PfP will be expanded to the full range of the Alliance's new missions as appropriate, to include the more demanding category of peace support operations, with a resulting expansion in the range of PfP exercises. Partners will have greater opportunities to participate in the planning and execution of PfP activities. Building on the experience of Operation JOINT ENDEAVOUR, Partners who join future NATO-led PfP operations should also have greater opportunities to contribute to the development of political guidance for, and to the oversight of, such operations.

  6. Partners will be involved more substantively and actively in PfP-related parts of the regular peacetime work of the NATO Military Authorities, and will also be offered an enhanced role in shaping the overall PfP programme. The Planning and Review Process will be expanded and made more like the NATO force planning system in order to increase its overall effectiveness and also to provide a better basis for planning Partners participation in PfP operations. We further welcome the agreement in principle, without compromising the primacy of Alliance requirements and respecting the existing procedures, to extend the scope and orientation of the NATO Security Investment Programme to include Partnership projects.

  7. We also endorse recommendations to enhance the political dimension of the Partnership through increasing opportunities for political consultations, taking full account of the respective activities of the OSCE and the relevant European institutions such as the WEU and the EU, to increase the regional cooperation aspects of PfP, and to examine with Partners possible modalities for elaborating a political-military framework for PfP operations, building on the current work of the PMSC. Our military forces will have important roles to play in many of these initiatives.

  8. The enhancement of PfP will deepen our relations with all our Partners and will enable the Alliance, by the time of the Summit, to be in a position to offer a clearly strengthened and thus more attractive Partnership. To that end, we endorse the rapid implementation of the PfP enhancements now approved and urge the Council to take timely action on those enhancement options that have been approved in principle but which require additional study and advice, so that Ministers can take decisions on further enhancements at their Spring meetings. In particular, we note the agreement to work with Partners on the initiative to establish an Atlantic Partnership Council (APC) as a single new cooperative mechanism, building on the elements of NACC and PfP deemed most valuable, which would form a framework for enhanced efforts in both practical cooperation under PfP and an expanded political dimension of Partnership.

  9. We expressed our satisfaction with the continuing growth of the Partnership for Peace, in both quantitative and qualitative terms. A number of significant developments in the Partnership have occurred over the past year, further consolidating its role as a permanent element of the European security architecture. We noted in particular the discussions of civil-military relations held under its auspices, the establishment of a dialogue on defence planning and policy, and an increase in Partnership activities in civil emergency planning and armaments cooperation, all of which have underscored the political-military character of PfP. We welcomed the decision of Switzerland to join the Partnership.

  10. The experience of day-to-day cooperation, the mutual understanding, and the interoperability of units and equipment that the Partnership promotes have also been important to the success of Operation JOINT ENDEAVOUR. We are determined in turn to draw the appropriate lessons from the shared experience of Allies and Partners in IFOR and UNTAES for the future development of PfP in general and particularly in practical cooperation.

  11. We look forward to our meeting with Minister of Defence Rodionov and remain committed to the development of a strong, stable and enduring security partnership with the Russian Federation, one that is consistent with that country's importance and with the far-reaching changes in the Alliance since the end of the Cold War. We view such a relationship as a key element in the European security architecture and as an essential source of stability for the entire Euro-Atlantic area. Our collaboration has already demonstrated its value in Operation JOINT ENDEAVOUR, as well as in a series of special consultations on such common security problems such as non-proliferation, nuclear safety, disaster preparedness, and arms control.

  12. We welcome the aim to conclude a document which could take the form of a Charter between NATO and Russia. We believe that our relations with Russia can and should be made broader, more intensive, and more substantive and that they can and should be placed on a more permanent institutional basis. In the context of the development of such a document, we invite the Council in Permanent Session to task the NATO Military Authorities to make proposals for the development of closer military relationships with Russia and to identify concrete areas for military cooperation. In this regard, we confirm our willingness to work with Russia to establish permanent Russian military liaison missions to NATO HQ (Brussels), SHAPE (Mons), and SACLANT (Norfolk), building on the highly successful experience of the Russian liaison mission created for IFOR, and, based on the principle of reciprocity, to establish NATO Missions at corresponding Russian institutions and headquarters. We therefore task the Council in Permanent Session, once an agreement in principle is reached, to work out an agreement with Russia on the modalities for implementing these missions as soon as possible. There are, furthermore, important opportunities for deepening our mutual understanding that have not yet been fully exploited under the Partnership for Peace. It is through measures of this kind, and through further direct and practical cooperation, that we can construct with the Russian Federation the security partnership that European security and stability require.

  13. We reaffirm our commitment to a strong, stable, and enhanced partnership with Ukraine, whose independence and territorial integrity are important factors for overall European stability. Ukraine is making an important contribution to the consolidation of peace in Bosnia, and is an active participant in the Partnership for Peace. We welcome the recent meeting of NATO and Ukrainian experts on issues related to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery. We look forward to still closer practical cooperation, under both PfP and the agreement on enhanced NATO-Ukraine relations concluded in 1995, which we could perhaps build on to formalise our relationship. We welcome the progress made towards establishing a NATO information office in Kyiv.


  1. We attach great importance to the role of the OSCE in enhancing European security and stability as a primary instrument in preventive diplomacy, conflict prevention, post-conflict rehabilitation and regional security cooperation. It is making a significant contribution to the resolution of a number of regional conflicts as well as to the implementation of civil aspects of the Peace agreement for Bosnia and Herzegovina. The OSCE has a fundamental part to play in the cooperative security structure we seek, in which all European states can participate on an equal basis. We reaffirm that European security requires the widest cooperation and coordination among European and transatlantic organisations. The OSCE, as an inclusive and comprehensive organisation for consultation, decision-making and cooperation in its region and as a regional arrangement under Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter, is particularly well suited as a forum to enhance cooperation and complementarity among such organisations and institutions. We welcome the results of the OSCE Summit in Lisbon and especially the progress made there towards developing a Security Model for the 21st Century.


  1. We fully subscribe to the position taken by Foreign Ministers last week that the CFE Treaty is a fundamental cornerstone of security and stability for all in the Euro-Atlantic area. We are committed to maintain and strengthen it. Consistent with out broader goal of enhancing political cooperation and military stability in a Europe without dividing lines, we welcome the decision of the 30 States Parties to the CFE Treaty on 1 December 1996 in Lisbon to launch negotiations to adapt the Treaty to the changing security environment in Europe. We look forward to beginning negotiations in the Joint Consultative Group in Vienna in January 1997 on the basis of the scope and parameters (Terms of Reference) document agreed in Lisbon.

  2. Our common goal is to enhance security for all States Parties, irrespective of whether they belong to an alliance, and preserve their right to choose and change their security arrangements. Within the broader political context of enhanced security for all, this process should strengthen the cooperative pattern of relationships between States Parties, based on mutual confidence, transparency, stability and predictability. Committed, like the other States Parties, to adapting the Treaty by developing mechanisms which will enhance the Treaty's viability and effectiveness, we will pursue steps to review the Treaty's group structure, to adapt the Treaty system of limitations and to enhance its verification and information provisions. To that end, the members of the Alliance will develop and table proposals for the negotiations in Vienna.

  3. We reaffirm our support for the CFE Flank Agreement, reached at this year's Review Conference in Vienna. We urge all States Parties who have not yet done so to approve this Agreement before the end of the extended provisional application period.

  4. We will play our full part in the intensive continuing efforts directed at resolving outstanding implementation issues.

  5. The members of the Alliance reaffirm the commitment made at Lisbon to exercise restraint during the period of negotiations as foreseen in the document in relation to the current postures and capabilities of their conventional armed forces - in particular, with respect to their levels of forces and deployments - in the Treaty's area of application. As decided in Lisbon, this commitment is without prejudice to the outcome of the negotiations, or to voluntary decisions by the individual States Parties to reduce their force levels or deployments, or to their legitimate security interests. We believe that the CFE Treaty must continue to play a key role in ensuring military stability into the 21st century, and are committed to adapting it expeditiously in order to take account of new security challenges.


  1. The decision to hold a Summit meeting next year marks the threshold of a new era, one that will bring both challenges and opportunities. The internal and external adaptation of the Alliance and the establishment of strong and stable relationships with Russia and Ukraine will continue to demand the foresight and the capacity to adapt that the Alliance has demonstrated in the past. We are confident in the ability of the Alliance to meet these demands, and believe the era will also be one of exceptional opportunity -- the opportunity to reinforce security and stability for the Alliance, for its Partners, and for the entire Euro-Atlantic region.