Cooperation with partners, that is, countries and organisations that are not members of NATO, is becoming increasingly important.
The best way for NATO to guarantee Euro-Atlantic security is to build a broad network of like-minded partners. In a constantly-changing security environment, no country or organisation can meet the complex challenges by acting alone. Coordinated, multilateral action is required. NATO’s various partnership formats are intended to serve as frameworks for political dialogue and regional cooperation in the areas of security and defence, and to promote common values.
Currently, the Alliance has partnerships with more than 40 states and international organisations, which are grouped into a variety of formats. These include:
- Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC), established in 1997: It has more than 50 members, 24 of which are partner countries – Eastern European countries, including Russia and Ukraine, countries in the Southern Caucasus, Central Asia and in the Balkans, and neutral Western European countries such as Austria, Finland, Ireland, Sweden and Switzerland – as well as the 28 NATO member countries.
- Mediterranean Dialogue (MD), established in 1994: Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia.
- Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI), established in 2004: Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.
- Partners across the globe: Comprises bilateral cooperation programmes with Australia, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Mongolia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq; these programmes have been grouped under this format since 2010.
Special forums for cooperation with Russia, Ukraine, and Georgia: NATO has created special forums for cooperation with Ukraine, i.e., the NATO-Ukraine Commission, which was established in 1997, as well as for cooperation with Georgia, the NATO-Georgia Commission, which was established in 2008. Since the beginning of the crisis in and near Ukraine in April 2014, NATO has suspended close practical cooperation with Russia in connection with the NATO-Russia Council, which was established in 1997. However, the political channels of communication remain open, and these include meetings of the NATO-Russia Council at Ambassadorial level.
Furthermore, since the Alliance’s Wales Summit in September 2014, in addition to the traditional, geographic partnership formats, there are two new, issue-related formats for cooperation. With the first format, the Interoperability Platform, the Alliance and its partners aim to improve their practical cooperation, especially in the area of crisis management. The second format is designed to assist specially-selected partner countries such as Iraq, Jordan, Moldova, and Georgia in their defence capacity-building efforts, which includes the reform of their security forces and institutions. Both initiatives help to strengthen and enhance cooperation between NATO and its partners. The summit meeting in Warsaw on 8 and 9 July 2016 underscored these efforts in the partnership domain.
In addition, NATO is committed to cooperative security and strives to promote global disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation. This includes individual measures such as Trust Funds to secure ammunition depots, destroy decommissioned military materiel, and clear mines, as well as providing political support to international efforts to promote effective non-proliferation policies and reduce nuclear weapons stockpiles.