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The North Atlantic Alliance (NATO)

13.07.2021 - Article

The North Atlantic Alliance (NATO) is a central pillar of Germany’s security and defence policy. With 30 members at present, NATO guarantees security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area.

In a globally interconnected world, no country can resolve international conflicts by itself. Equally, hardly any country can protect itself sufficiently against cross-border risks and threats on its own. That is why Germany needs partners and alliances that provide mutual support and solidarity. The North Atlantic Alliance (NATO) remains a central pillar of German security and defence policy.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas issued the following statement prior to the meeting of Foreign Ministers on 1 June:

We have used this last year and a half to conduct a comprehensive reflection process within NATO. That was necessary. Because it is above all also in our own strategic interest for this Alliance to be modernised and made fit for the future. We thereby want to strike a new political bargain and ensure that NATO can tackle the great challenges of the future.

The autocratic challenge the Alliance faces will most likely increase over the next decade. We must therefore further strengthen NATO’s political muscle, reaffirm that we are an Alliance of democracies, and also enhance our strategic position.

Collective defence, crisis management and cooperative security

NATO’s three core tasks are collective defence, crisis management and cooperative security. They were laid down by the member countries in NATO’s Strategic Concept at the 2010 Lisbon Summit.

Collective defence lies at the heart of the Alliance. It means that NATO members protect each other in the case of an external attack. The priority is to deter potential attackers so that a situation requiring mutual defence does not arise in the first place.

NATO’s crisis management work focuses on creating security and stability where the security of NATO member countries is affected. This involves crisis prevention, that is, endeavours to prevent crises and escalation, as well as crisis management and post-conflict stabilisation efforts, such as in Iraq or in Kosovo.

The third task, cooperative security, describes NATO’s desire to cooperate with non-NATO countries with a view to maintaining international security and stability. This cooperation may take different forms, for example promoting dialogue in order to create transparency and build confidence.

At their summit on 14 June 2021, NATO Heads of State and Government agreed to update the Alliance’s Strategic Concept by their next Summit in 2022.

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