NATO’s partnerships

NATO’s partnership policy, launched at the end of the Cold War, has been one of the Alliance’s three main tasks since the Lisbon Summit and the adoption of the new Strategic Concept in November 2010. NATO maintains a political dialogue with some 40 partner nations and several international organizations, engaging in practical cooperation with them in the area of security and defence.


NATO’s policy of partnerships with the countries of the former Eastern bloc and neutral European countries was launched in 1991 at the end of the Cold War to fill the strategic void left in the East by the disbanding of the Warsaw Pact. Its purpose is to encourage dialogue with non-NATO members with a view to reinforcing security in the Euro-Atlantic area.

Over the last two decades, this policy has gradually developed both geographically (NATO now has some 40 partner countries) and in terms of content (in addition to political dialogue, NATO now engages in practical cooperation with many partner nations, who are also involved in its military operations).

The new Strategic Concept adopted at the Lisbon Summit of November 2010 defines "cooperative security", i.e. partnerships, as one of NATO’s three fundamental and essential tasks.

The two pillars of the partnership policy: political dialogue and practical cooperation

NATO’s partnership policy is based on two pillars: political dialogue concerning the security challenges faced by both Allies and partners and practical cooperation between them. Cooperation between NATO and its partners focuses essentially on defence sector reform, defence policy and planning, the training and education of the armed forces, crisis management and civil emergency planning. Finally, it aims at strengthening interoperability between some partners’ armed forces and those of the Allies, a number of partner countries play an active part in NATO’s military operations alongside its forces.

Partnership frameworks

The Alliance has a network of partner countries within three different partnership frameworks:

  • the Partnership for Peace (PfP) is historically NATO’s oldest partnership framework. Founded in 1994, it brings together most of the countries of Europe and Central Asia, including many former members of the Warsaw Pact (several of which have since become full members of the Alliance) and various neutral countries (Switzerland, Austria, Finland, Ireland, Sweden and Malta). In 1997 the PfP acquired a political organ - the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council;
  • launched in 1994, the Mediterranean Dialogue (MD) includes six Arab countries (Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia) and Israel. It aims to reinforce dialogue between NATO and the countries of the Mediterranean and to promote confidence and cooperation among the countries along its southern shores;
  • launched at the Istanbul Summit of 2004, the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) brings together four Gulf countries: Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.

NATO also maintains relations with several partners which do not belong to any formal partnership framework but are of particular importance owing to their role in Alliance operations. Among these "partners around the globe" are Japan, New Zealand, Australia, the Republic of Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Mongolia.
In addition, NATO has specific partnership frameworks with Russia in the NATO-Russia Council, with Ukraine in the NATO-Ukraine Commission (created in 1997) and with Georgia in the NATO-Georgia Commission (created in 2008).

Finally, NATO has developed partnerships with several international organizations, first and foremost the European Union, which is described in the Strategic Concept as a "unique and essential partner" of NATO, but also with the United Nations and the OSCE in particular.

More information on NATO website page on partnerships:

Dernière modification : 02/07/2013

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