Partnership for Peace

The Partnership for Peace is a programme of ‘practical bilateral cooperation’ between the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and friendly countries which wish to work with the Atlantic Alliance to ‘increase stability, diminish threats to peace and build strengthened security relationships’. Launched in January 1994, the Partnership for Peace was directed initially at those former members of the Warsaw Pact in central and eastern Europe which aspired to NATO membership, as well as former republics of the Soviet Union. An important vehicle for projecting Western influence in this region, the initiative was seen as the military complement to the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC), which was replaced in turn by the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) in 1997.

Partner states were invited to ‘develop with NATO an individual partnership programme’ and to identify ‘the steps they will take to achieve the political goals of the partnership and the military and other assets that might be used for partnership activities’. Among those ‘political goals’ is ‘ensuring democratic control [of] defence forces’ in partner states. The latter may establish liaison offices with NATO headquarters and with the ‘partnership coordination cell’ at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), participate (at their own expense) in planning and military exercises and in NATO peace-keeping, humanitarian, and search and rescue missions, and share ‘in a reciprocal exchange of information on defence planning and budgeting’. The NATO countries undertake to ‘consult with any active participant in the partnership if that partner perceives a direct threat to its territorial integrity, political independence or security’. This last undertaking falls some way short of the security guarantees enjoyed by full NATO members, but was strongly welcomed by the countries of central and eastern Europe when it was extended to them.

Twelve former Partnership for Peace members have subsequently become full members of NATO: the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland in March 1999; Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and the three Baltic states in March 2004; and Albania and Croatia in April 2009. Currently the Partnership for Peace encompasses 22 countries (as well as the 28 members of NATO): 12 former Soviet republics (including Russia, which has been a member from the start), four former Yugoslav states (Bosnia and Herzegovina, FYR Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia), and five of the six European Union states outside NATO (Austria, Finland, Ireland, Malta and Sweden, but not Cyprus, which is in effect excluded by Turkey), together with Switzerland.

To deepen the Partnership for Peace, NATO has developed two types of ‘Partnership Action Plans’ (PAPs): horizontal plans on defence institution-building and counter-terrorism, and national plans to encourage domestic military reform. Reflecting the membership of the Partnership for Peace, NATO has also assigned special representatives for the Caucasus and Central Asia, with a view to promoting the active participation of the countries in these areas in PAPs.

September 2012

Copyright: Anthony Teasdale, 2012

Citation: The Penguin Companion to European Union (2012), additional website entry

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