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NATO Partnership

Since 1994, NATO has developed a network of structured military partnerships with countries from the Euro-Atlantic area, the Mediterranean and the Gulf region, as well as individual relationships with other partners across the globe mainly to enhance Euro-Atlantic and international security, peace and stability by promoting regional security and cooperation.

As outlined in the 2022 Strategic Concept adopted at the Madrid Summit in June 2022,, NATO pursues a more inclusive dialogue and cooperation with non-member countries on a wide range of political and security-related issues, and partners contribute to NATO’s goals and tasks, including to NATO-led operations and its actions against terrorism and emerging security challenges.

The new policy concerns not only partnerships with non-member countries but also NATO’s cooperation with other international actors and organizations.
In fact, the complexity of today’s peace-support and stabilization operations and the multifaceted nature of 21st century security challenges call for a comprehensive approach that effectively combines political, civilian and military instruments.

A number of partnership tools supports cooperation with partner countries through a mix of policies, programmes, action plans and other arrangements which are focused on the important priorities of building capabilities and interoperability, supporting defence and security-related reform.

At the Madrid Summit in June 2022, NATO adopted its new Strategic Concept, which continues to identify “cooperative security” as one of NATO’s three pillars. This pillar recognises that Euro-Atlantic security is best achieved through a wide network of partner relationships with countries and organisations around the world. As outlined in the 2022 Strategic Concept, “Political dialogue and practical cooperation with partners, based on mutual respect and benefit, contribute to stability beyond our borders, enhance our security at home and support NATO’s core tasks. Partnerships are crucial to protect the global commons, enhance our resilience and uphold the rules-based international order.

The Allies seek to contribute to the efforts of the international community in projecting stability and strengthening security outside NATO territory. One of the means to do so is through cooperation and partnerships. The Alliance has developed a network of partnerships with non-member countries from the Euro-Atlantic area, the Mediterranean and the Gulf region, and other partners across the globe. NATO pursues dialogue and practical cooperation with these nations on a wide range of political and security-related issues. NATO’s partnerships are beneficial to all involved and contribute to improved security for the broader international community.

Dialogue and cooperation with partners can make a concrete contribution to enhance international security, to defend the values on which the Alliance is based, to NATO’s operations, and to prepare interested nations for membership.

In both regional frameworks and on a bilateral level, NATO develops relations based on common values, reciprocity, mutual benefit and mutual respect.

In the Euro-Atlantic area, the 30 Allies engage in relations with 20 partner countries through the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and the Partnership for Peace – a major programme of bilateral cooperation with individual Euro-Atlantic partners. Among these partners, NATO has developed specific structures for its relationships with Russia1, Ukraine and Georgia.

Under NATO’s partnership policies, the strategic objectives of NATO's partner relations are to:

  • Enhance Euro-Atlantic and international security, peace and stability;
  • Promote regional security and cooperation;
  • Facilitate mutually beneficial cooperation on issues of common interest, including international efforts to meet emerging security challenges;
  • Prepare interested eligible nations for NATO membership;
  • Promote democratic values and institutional reforms, especially in the defence and security sector;
  • Enhance support for NATO-led operations and missions;
  • Enhance awareness of security developments including through early warning, with a view to preventing crises;
  • Build confidence and achieve better mutual understanding, including about NATO's role and activities, in particular through enhanced public diplomacy.

That said, each partner determines – with NATO – the pace, scope, intensity and focus of their partnership with NATO, as well as individual objectives. This is often captured in a document setting goals for the relationship, which is to be regularly reviewed. However, many of NATO’s partnership activities involve more than one partner at a time.

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