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NATO: Defence Minister's Meeting: Final Communique, 97-12-02

Miscellaneous Directory - Previous Article

PRESS COMMUNIQUE M-NAC-D-2(97)149
For immediate release
2nd December 1997

MEETING OF THE NORTH ATLANTIC COUNCIL
IN DEFENCE MINISTERS SESSION HELD IN BRUSSELS
ON 2ND DECEMBER 1997

FINAL COMMUNIQUE

  1. The North Atlantic Council met in Defence Ministers Session in Brussels on 2nd December 1997.

  2. At their Summit Meeting in Madrid on 8th-9th July, our Heads of State and Government took key steps to shape the new NATO to meet the challenges of the 21st century. They brought the different strands of NATO's ongoing adaptation together, responding to the profound changes in the evolving security environment, and gave far-reaching directions for future work. They reaffirmed the Alliance's commitment to the core function of collective defence, to strengthening the indispensable transatlantic link, to developing the European Security and Defence Identity within the Alliance and, in light of the new security challenges facing the Alliance, underlined the importance of ensuring the Alliance's military effectiveness for the full range of its missions. They gave their full endorsement to the decisions taken at this Spring's Ministerial meetings designed to reflect the movement towards greater integration and cooperation in Europe, including in the security and defence fields.

  3. We reviewed today the implementation of the Summit decisions in the defence field and noted with satisfaction the progress achieved since the Summit. Substantial progress has been achieved on the Long Term Study and an agreement has been reached on a new command structure as a whole, and in particular on the type, number and location of Headquarters. The accession negotiations with the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland have been successfully concluded. The first steps in implementing the NATO-Russia Founding Act as well as the NATO-Ukraine Charter have been taken. Progress in implementing the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council has been achieved. As Defence Ministers we will continue to play our full part in shaping the new European security structure to which the Madrid Summit made such a fundamental contribution.

  4. We reviewed the ongoing operations by the NATO-led Stabilization Force (SFOR) in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We welcomed the active approach being taken by SFOR to help accelerate the implementation of the Peace Agreement in accordance with the Sintra Declaration and Council decisions. This has included operations to bring the Republika Srpska Specialist Police into compliance with Annex 1A of the Peace Agreement, and to support the High Representative's decision to suspend the broadcasting of programmes that were in persistent and blatant contravention of the Peace Agreement. SFOR also played an essential role in facilitating the peaceful conduct of the municipal elections in September and the Republika Srpska assembly elections in November which were both carried out under the OSCE's supervision. SFOR also continued support for IPTF, for the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia, and for a safe and secure environment that facilitates a return of refugees. We expressed our warmest thanks to the men and women of SFOR for their outstanding performance.

  5. Despite the progress already achieved, much remains to be done to consolidate the peace before we can be confident that it is irreversible. Our countries are committed to supporting the maintenance and further strengthening of peace, stability and democracy in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We remain determined to support those who are committed to the Peace Agreement and to oppose those who seek to obstruct the peace process. We call on the parties to the Peace Agreement to live up fully to their obligations, including full cooperation in the transfer of persons indicted for war crimes to the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague. We welcome progress with regard to confidence building measures and arms control as covered in articles 2 and 4 of Annex 1B of the Peace Agreement. We also attach great importance to further progress in this field. We look forward to next week's Ministerial meeting of the Peace Implementation Council in Bonn, which should give further impetus to the peace process.

  6. Our Heads of State and Government have declared that the Alliance has a commitment to promoting stability in the region. NATO is now in the process of conducting the twelve-month review of SFOR operations, on the basis of advice from the NATO Military Authorities and in consultation with the non-NATO contributing countries. With regard to the final six months of SFOR's mission, we confirmed that the force would continue its firm and even-handed approach to implementing its mandate and supporting civil implementation. With this in mind, we consider that SFOR should continue at its present force levels, subject to prudent adjustments, until otherwise directed. On this basis, we invited the Council in Permanent Session to consult the non-NATO contributors before the meeting of Foreign Ministers on 16th December. Looking ahead, we confirmed the Alliance's long-term interest in stability and a secure environment in Bosnia and Herzegovina to allow the Peace Agreement to be further implemented. We asked the Council in Permanent Session to provide politico-military guidance to the NATO Military Authorities to develop without commitment a full range of distinct options identifying potential tasks and necessary associated forces for a future NATO-led military presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina following the end of SFOR's mandate. This should be taken forward in the light of the Peace Implementation Conference in Bonn on 9th and 10th December and the decisions of Foreign Ministers in the North Atlantic Council on 16th December. We have also endorsed an initial set of security cooperation activities with Bosnia and Herzegovina, including both entities and all three parties. These activities are to be coordinated through the Bosnian Presidency's Standing Committee on Military Matters (SCMM) with the aim of promoting confidence and cooperation among the Bosnian armed forces and encouraging the development of democratic practices and central defence mechanisms such as the SCMM.

  7. We welcomed the successful conclusion of accession talks with the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland and look forward to the signing of the Protocols of Accession at the forthcoming meeting of Foreign Ministers. We reviewed the significant steps that have already been taken to assist the invited nations to prepare for their future military roles and obligations as Alliance members. In particular the defence planning work done within the Alliance, building on the full information provided by the three invited countries through their replies to NATO's Defence Planning Questionnaire, has created a solid foundation for the development of Target Force Goals which will constitute a major step towards defining in detail the military contributions which the future members will make to the Alliance on accession. We stressed the importance of effectively assisting invited countries in preparing for membership and welcomed the proposal to develop, using PfP tools and mechanisms, a cooperation programme with the invited countries, which is comprehensive in nature and ensures transparency between multilateral and bilateral assistance programmes.

  8. At their meeting in Madrid, Allied Heads of State and Government noted that admitting new members will have resource implications for the Alliance. They directed the Council in Permanent Session to bring to an early conclusion the concrete analysis of the resource implications of the forthcoming enlargement, drawing on the continuing work on military implications. We took note of a report on the resource implications of the accession of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland to the Alliance, which has been prepared by the competent bodies of the Alliance on the basis of a substantial analysis by the NATO Military Authorities. We noted that the invitees plan to increase significantly their defence spending and to contribute appropriately to the Alliance's commonly-funded budgets. The report concludes that the available and planned military forces and their capabilities of the current Allies and the three invitees are sufficient to ensure fully the collective defence of all members of the enlarged Alliance in the present and foreseeable security environment and that the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland will also make valuable contributions to the Alliance's ability to perform the full range of its missions. It provides an initial assessment of those costs which would be eligible for common funding, amounting to the equivalent of about 1.5 billion US dollars over a period of 10 years, of which 1.3 billion US dollars would be for the Security Investment Programme. The impact of these costs on the commonly funded budgets of the Alliance will be assessed in a further report on the Alliance's medium-term resource plan which will be presented to us at our Spring meeting. We recognise in this context the important role which the military common-funded programmes will play in integrating the new members. Overall, the analysis of the resource implications of the accession of the three new members has justified the confidence of Heads of State and Government that in the present and foreseeable security environment in Europe, Alliance costs associated with the accession of the three invitees will be manageable, and that the resources necessary to meet these costs will be provided in accordance with our agreed procedures under which each Ally bears its fair share.

  9. NATO enlargement is linked to and part of a comprehensive process which comprises the following elements: broad cooperation with Partners within the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and the enhanced Partnership for Peace Programme; a strong, stable and enduring partnership with Russia based on the Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation, signed in Paris on 27th May 1997; a distinctive Partnership with Ukraine, which was founded by means of the Charter, signed in Madrid on 9th July 1997; and an enhanced Mediterranean Dialogue. All these elements contribute to establishing the foundation of a Euro-Atlantic area characterised by cooperative security and reliable stability, and are supplemented by the work of the OSCE, in particular on a "Common and Comprehensive Security Model for the 21st Century" in accordance with the decision of the OSCE Lisbon Summit in 1996.

  10. We, as Defence Ministers, remain fully committed to the implementation of the process of enlargement in the terms set up by paragraph 8 of the Madrid Declaration on Euro-Atlantic Security and Cooperation, in which the Heads of State and Government of the member countries of the North Atlantic Alliance clearly reaffirmed that NATO remains open to new members under Article 10 of the North Atlantic Treaty. We look forward to the continuation with interested Partners of the Alliance's intensified dialogues, for which modalities have been agreed and which will cover the full range of political, military, financial and security issues related to membership.

  11. We noted with appreciation the report by the Senior Political Committee (Reinforced) on the implementation of the enhanced Partnership for Peace. We welcomed the progress achieved so far, in particular decisions to establish PfP Staff Elements at the strategic and regional levels of NATO's military command structure, and have mandated a report for May 1998 on the possibility of establishing them also at the sub-regional level. We also welcomed proposals for the further development of the Planning and Review Process (PARP) to introduce Ministerial Guidance and to develop as a matter of priority Partnership Goals for interested Partner nations, establishing international military posts for Partners at the Partnership Coordination Cell, and the identification of the first PfP projects to be supported under the NATO Security Investment Programme. We also welcome the Alliance work now begun with Partners to develop a political-military framework for NATO-led PfP operations. We fully support the consultations in the framework of the EAPC on issues of regional cooperation. These initiatives are cornerstones of the new Partnership and the keys to developing a more operational Partnership in which Partners play a greater role in planning and executing PfP activities, exercises and operations and participate in the Alliance's new missions. We also reviewed with satisfaction the efforts under PfP to assist Albania in restructuring its armed forces.

  12. Partnership for Peace has become a focal point for our efforts to enhance practical cooperation between Alliance and Partner nations in the security field. We look forward to our second meeting of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council in Defence Minister session tomorrow in which we will begin to fulfil our commitment to make the EAPC a substantial body that engages Partners and enhances security consultations and practical cooperation.

  13. We will play our full part as Defence Ministers in giving substance to NATO's new partnership with the Russian Federation. We look forward to the first meeting of the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council at the level of Defence Ministers tomorrow. We noted with satisfaction that the work programmes of the Council for this year and next year include a growing number of political-military projects. In this respect we confirm our strong wish to contribute to the work of the Council and to the implementation of the political-military provisions of the Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation. We attach particular importance to the development of an Individual Partnership Programme with Russia in the framework of the Partnership for Peace. We welcomed the appointment by the Russian Federation of a military representative to NATO. The first meeting of the Permanent Joint Military Committee in Chiefs of Defence Session on 4th December will further enhance mutual understanding between NATO and the Russian Federation on military issues. All of these valuable developments will contribute to the spirit of shared purposes that has marked NATO-Russian cooperation in IFOR and SFOR.

  14. We fully support the development of the political-military aspects of the Charter on a Distinctive Partnership between NATO and Ukraine. This process will be built on an intensified practical military cooperation between NATO and Ukraine within the framework of the Partnership for Peace and on participation within IFOR and SFOR. We support the establishment of a Joint Working Group on Defence Reform which is expected to start its work shortly.

  15. Security in the whole of Europe is closely linked with stability and security in the Mediterranean. We therefore confirm our support for the enhanced dialogue between NATO and six countries in the Mediterranean region: Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia. We welcome the first meetings of these countries with the Mediterranean Cooperation Group, which was established at the Madrid Summit to have overall responsibility for the Mediterranean Dialogue. We look forward to a progress report next year on the implementation of the first work programme of the enhanced Mediterranean dialogue, as a basis on which to build in order to strengthen further confidence-building and cooperation in the region.

  16. We welcomed further progress on NATO's internal adaptation. Work undertaken since the Summit has continued to focus on three main and linked areas: the development of the Alliance's future command structure; the implementation of the Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) concept; and the building of the European Security and Defence Identity (ESDI) within the Alliance. We endorsed a comprehensive report on the various aspects of this work.

  17. Substantial progress has been achieved on the Long Term Study and an agreement has been reached on a new command structure as a whole, and in particular on the type, number and location of Headquarters. The structure will comprise two Strategic Commands (SC), one for the Atlantic and one for Europe. SC Atlantic will comprise three Regional Commands (RC), RC West (Norfolk), RC East (Northwood) and RC Southeast (Lisbon) as well as STRIKFLTLANT and SUBACLANT, both based at Norfolk. In SC Europe, two RCs are foreseen - RC North (Brunssum) and RC South (Naples). Two component commands (CC) - CC Air (Ramstein) and CC Nav (Northwood) - will report to RC North together with three Joint Sub-Regional Commands (JSRC) - JSRC Centre (Heidelberg), JSRC Northeast (Karup) and JSRC North (Stavanger). RC South will command two CCs - CC Air and CC Nav (both at Naples) - and four JSRCs - JSRC Southeast (Izmir), JSRC SouthCentre (Larissa), JSRC South (Verona) and JSRC SouthWest (Madrid). Taken together, this will represent a reduction from 65 headquarters at present to 20 in the proposed new command structure. We tasked the NATO Military Authorities to develop a detailed plan, as proposed by the MC, for the transition to the new command structure, for consideration and endorsement by Ministers next year.

  18. Once in place, the new command structure will enable the Alliance to perform the whole range of its roles and missions more effectively and flexibly while providing appropriate roles for all Allies participating and strengthening the transatlantic link. In implementing it, we will ensure that it is fully functional, militarily efficient and cost effective, and will also take account of ESDI and CJTF requirements and, by this, enable the Alliance, based on the concept of separable but not separate capabilities, to provide European command arrangements able to prepare, support, command and conduct operations under the political control and strategic direction of the WEU. The new command structure will also provide for participation of Partner countries and will facilitate the integration of the future new members into the Alliance's military structures.

  19. Allies welcomed the intention of Spain to join the new military structure as soon as possible. Spain's full participation will enhance its overall contribution to the security of the Alliance, help develop the European Security and Defence Identity within NATO and strengthen the transatlantic link.

  20. The implementation of the Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) concept will enhance the Alliance's ability to plan and conduct quickly and efficiently a wide range of military operations. It will thus represent an important source of flexibility in the capabilities available to NATO. In addition, CJTFs will greatly contribute to building ESDI within the Alliance by responding to the requirement to provide deployable headquarters for WEU-led operations using NATO assets and capabilities. They will also provide enhanced opportunities for the participation of non-NATO nations in NATO-led operations. For these reasons we noted with satisfaction the continuing successful implementation of the CJTF concept. We welcome the holding of the first CJTF trial last month. The lessons learned from this and subsequent trials, including in due course trials and exercises for WEU-led CJTF operations, will be taken into account in the further implementation of the concept.

  21. At their meetings in Berlin and Brussels in June 1996 NATO Foreign and Defence Ministers resolved to build ESDI within the Alliance, based on the concept of separable but not separate capabilities. We noted with satisfaction the further progress achieved towards defining practical arrangements for WEU-led operations making use of Alliance assets and capabilities. This has included the detailed development of mechanisms for the identification, release, monitoring and return or recall of NATO assets and capabilities; arrangements designed to ensure close consultation between NATO and WEU on, inter alia, the planning and conduct of WEU-led operations involving the use of such assets and capabilities, including measures for intensified sharing of information and intelligence in the context of such operations; the provision from NATO's command structure of headquarters elements and command positions to command and conduct WEU-led operations; the development of an exercise programme designed to test procedures for NATO support of a WEU-led operation, leading to a joint NATO-WEU crisis management exercise planned for 2000, to be followed by a CJTF exercise based on a WEU-led operation, taking into account decisions on European command arrangements and the provision of NATO assets and capabilities to the WEU; and the incorporation of requirements for WEU-led operations into NATO's defence planning based, inter alia, on the WEU's illustrative mission profiles.

  22. We reviewed ongoing work on modalities for the WEU's further involvement in the Alliance's defence planning process on the basis of the Alliance's revised defence planning procedures. This work is being carried out in cooperation with the WEU. As ESDI within the Alliance is taking shape, cooperation with the WEU is becoming increasingly close. We therefore welcomed the steady strengthening of NATO-WEU working relations as illustrated by regular joint Council meetings and also joint meetings of subordinate bodies. We also welcomed the results of the WEU Ministerial Council in Erfurt that aim at enhanced forms of cooperation between WEU and NATO, supporting the process of translating the political directives formulated by the respective Ministerial Councils into practical links between both organisations leading in particular to arrangements for WEU-led operations making use of Alliance assets and capabilities.

  23. We directed the Council in Permanent Session to pursue further work, as required, on internal adaptation and to report to us at our next meeting.

  24. We reiterate the key importance of the principle of multinationality throughout Alliance structures for Alliance solidarity and cohesion, the conduct of Alliance missions and as a guard against renationalisation. In this context, we welcomed the most recent agreements between Germany and the Netherlands signed in October relating to the development and deeper integration of the German-Netherlands Corps and the establishment by Italy and Spain of the Spanish-Italian Amphibious Force (SIAF), both of which are available to NATO and the WEU (SIAF is also available in the framework of EUROMARFOR) to carry out both collective defence missions and peace support operations.

  25. At their Summit in Madrid in July 1997, our Heads of State and Government mandated an examination, and an update as necessary, of the Alliance's Strategic Concept. Recognising that the security environment has changed since 1991, this work will ensure that the Strategic Concept is fully consistent with Europe's new security situation and challenges, and will confirm our commitment to the core function of Alliance collective defence and the indispensable transatlantic link. Today, we have endorsed terms of reference for the examination, and updating as necessary, of the Alliance Strategic Concept. We directed the Council in Permanent Session to initiate work early in 1998 for presentation to Heads of State and Government at their next Summit meeting in April 1999. We attach great importance to this task and look forward to receiving a progress report at our next meeting.

  26. NATO's continual effort to address the risks posed by the proliferation of nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) weapons and their means of delivery demonstrate the continuing adaptation of the Alliance to the new security environment. In this context, the principal goal of the Alliance and its members is to prevent proliferation from occurring, or, should it occur, to reverse it through diplomatic means. We welcome progress achieved with international disarmament and non-proliferation instruments and attach utmost importance to their full implementation and rigorous verification. We nevertheless recognize that proliferation, which at present poses risks to the Alliance, can continue to occur despite our preventive efforts and can pose a direct military threat to Allies' populations, territory, and forces. We remain committed to continue improving the Alliance defence posture against NBC weapons to which the Senior Defence Group on Proliferation (DGP) is making an important contribution within the framework of its mandate.

  27. The risks associated with proliferation are a key component of the changed security environment since 1991 and we will ensure they are fully reflected in our strategy and plans. We noted with concern recent and ongoing proliferation developments that underline the necessity of dealing with the evolving proliferation threat.

  28. We welcome the progress being made by the NATO Military Authorities to implement the Alliance Policy Guidelines for Military Operations in an NBC Weapons Environment, which will facilitate the adaptation of NATO's operational doctrine, concepts, and plans and focus training and exercises on the risks posed by NBC weapons and their means of delivery. The DGP will undertake further consultations and cooperation with Partner nations to address defence efforts against the risks posed by NBC weapons and their means of delivery, and to examine probable areas for future cooperation.

  29. We also note the DGP's ongoing effort to undertake a comprehensive analysis of progress the Alliance has made towards intensifying and expanding NATO's defence efforts against proliferation risks since the 1994 Brussels Summit and look forward to receiving a report at our Spring meeting.

  30. European security requires the widest cooperation and coordination among participating States and European and transatlantic organisations. Reiterating that the OSCE is particularly well suited as a forum to enhance cooperation and interaction among such mutually reinforcing organisations and institutions, we welcome the OSCE initiative on developing the Platform for Cooperative Security within the framework of the Security Model for the 21st Century to strengthen non-hierarchical cooperation between security institutions. NATO supports and has already contributed to this initiative in cooperation with other security organisations.

  31. We welcomed progress achieved in the Joint Consultative Group (JCG) towards adapting the CFE Treaty to the changing European security environment so as to ensure continued stability throughout the Treaty's Area of Application. As part of these negotiations, members of the Alliance have provided information on intended overall reductions in entitlements of Treaty Limited Equipment which they would be prepared to take in the context of an adapted Treaty based on national and territorial ceilings. We call on other States Parties to do likewise. The Alliance remains committed to preserving the viability of the CFE Treaty as a cornerstone of European security, and to ensuring that this adaptation enhances the security of all States Parties. We encourage all States Parties to work constructively towards the objective of an early conclusion of the adaptation negotiations. Until the adapted Treaty enters into force, implementation of the current CFE Treaty and continued respect of its provisions must be ensured.

  32. In addition, we encourage ratification of the Open Skies Treaty by those parties who have not done so to permit entry into force of the Treaty at the earliest moment.

  33. We acknowledge the significance of the opening of the Convention on the prohibition of the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of anti-personnel mines and on their destruction for signature on 3rd December 1997 in Ottawa, Canada. The impact of this agreement on NATO will be fully assessed in the months ahead. We will take the necessary action to ensure that national obligations under the Convention are compatible with our obligations under the North Atlantic Treaty. We welcome the efforts pursued at the Conference on Disarmament to deal with the issue of anti-personnel land mines and urge the Conference on Disarmament to intensify its effort to bring about an international instrument adhered to universally.

  34. We welcome the ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention by the Russian Federation which represents a major step in strengthening the comprehensive, global, and verifiable ban on chemical weapons. We congratulate the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons on the successful commencement of its work. In order to promote the non-proliferation of chemical weapons on a global basis, we call on all states which have not yet acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention to do so at the earliest possible date.

  35. We welcome the outcome of the recent US-Russia consultations aimed at furthering the disarmament process and look forward to the prompt ratification of the START II Treaty by the Russian Federation. START II will provide a major contribution to international security through reducing deployed U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear warheads by 40 percent and eliminating multiple-warhead ICBMs. Entry-into-force of START II will also allow the beginning of negotiations on START III, which will further reduce strategic nuclear forces, and for the first time address strategic nuclear warhead stockpile measures. We urge Russia to honour its commitments as stated by President Yeltsin in 1992 to substantially reduce its tactical nuclear weapons stockpile.

  36. We recalled that our Heads of State and Government reaffirmed the importance they attach to the arrangements in the Alliance for consultation on threats of a wider nature, including those linked to illegal arms trade and acts of terrorism, which affect Alliance security interests, and stressed the need for the most effective cooperation possible, in accordance with their respective national legislation, to prevent and suppress this scourge.

  37. We approved a report concluding the first phase of a major study by our Conference of National Armaments Directors (CNAD) on the future role of NATO in the armaments field, which is intended to focus armaments activities more sharply on key NATO military requirements and improved interoperability. We look forward to the completion of the study in November next year. We continue to attach great importance to CNAD work aimed at fulfilling the very important requirement for a minimum essential NATO-owned and operated core capability supplemented by interoperable national assets. Noting the options considered to date, we welcome the determination of our Armaments Directors to search intensively for fresh concepts and acquisition options to meet the requirements for the complete Alliance Ground Surveillance capability, giving due consideration to an air segment made up of both a NATO-owned and operated capability and interoperable national assets, and a NATO-owned open architecture ground segment. We look forward to the results of their work being highlighted in their annual report to our Spring 1998 meeting.

  38. We look forward to the revision by the NATO Air Defence Committee of the Alliance Air Defence Programme. We also attach importance to the work undertaken by the Committee for European Airspace Coordination, in particular with respect to the interoperability of the Air Command and Control System (ACCS) and the European civil aviation harmonisation programme, with the ultimate goal of improving air safety throughout the whole European airspace. We note that the CNAD recently contributed to proposals for adapting the Alliance's future ACCS to perform, as required, tactical missile defence roles, and we look forward to receiving the recommendations of the NATO Air Command and Control Management Organisation on this issue. We also look forward to receiving this Spring a detailed plan identifying the steps, decision documents and resources necessary to establish, within NATO, programmes for layered tactical ballistic missile defences.

  39. We welcome the practical measures of defence cooperation with Partners already taken by NATO's armaments community, including the gradual and progressive opening up of armaments groups to Partner participation and efforts to establish a defence industrial dialogue between the defence industries of NATO member countries and those of our Partners.

  40. NATO's comprehensive adaptation will continue. The intensifying preparations for the integration of the three invitees; the steady progress achieved in adapting NATO's internal structures to ensure the Alliance's military effectiveness, to preserve the transatlantic link and to build the European Security and Defence Identity within the Alliance; the successful outreach to Partners; the development of a strong, stable and enduring partnership with Russia and a distinctive partnership with Ukraine; our enhanced Mediterranean dialogue; our engagement in Bosnia and Herzegovina -- all of these far-reaching endeavours testify to the undiminished vitality of the Alliance as the linchpin of security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area.
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