The North Atlantic Alliance (NATO)

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Federal Foreign Office (9 November 2023)

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Federal Foreign Office (9 November 2023), © Janine Schmitz/photothek.de

14.03.2024 - Article

The NATO is a central pillar of Germany’s security and defence policy. With 32 members at present, NATO guarantees security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area. The Alliance’s newest member is Sweden, which joined on 7 March 2024. 2024 marks the 75th anniversary of NATO.

Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine has fundamentally changed the security environment in Europe. National and collective defence have become significantly more important once again. Germany’s security is indivisible from that of its allies. The North Atlantic Alliance (NATO) is the key pillar for Euro-Atlantic security. NATO, the acronym for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, is the most important security alliance in the world.

Collective defence, crisis prevention and management, and cooperative security

NATO’s three core tasks are collective defence, crisis prevention and management, and cooperative security. These tasks are anchored in the Alliance’s Strategic Concept 2022, which, after the North Atlantic Treaty, is the core document the Alliance uses to define its policies, capabilities and operational action.

Collective defence lies at the heart of the Alliance and means that NATO members protect each other in the case of an external attack. It is also vital to deter potential attackers so that an attack is not carried out in the first place. To this end, NATO has the appropriate nuclear, conventional and missile defence capabilities, which are backed up by space and cyber capabilities. These capabilities are defensive in nature, proportionate, and in line with NATO member countries’ international obligations.

Under NATO’s crisis prevention and management, Allies strive to foster stability and conflict management. The aim is to prevent crises that could adversely affect Allies’ security and to respond to such crises. One example is the NATO Mission Iraq (NMI), in which the Alliance supports the Iraqi Government in furthering stability and improving security in the country.

The third task, cooperative security, describes NATO’s cooperation with non-NATO countries. This cooperation also strengthens international security and stability. It is conducted in the form of both political dialogue and practical cooperation. A particular emphasis here is on the European Union (EU), as it is a unique and indispensable partner.


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