Press Release
12 December 1997

Ministers to Issue Guidance for New NATO Strategy

NATO’s Foreign Ministers meeting in Brussels on December 16-17,1997 will take important decisions and provide basic guidance for developing a new NATO strategy. "NATO member States have decided to examine NATO's Strategic Concept to ensure that it is fully consistent with Europe's new security situation and challenges." Highlighting the crucial importance for NATO-Russia relations, this Alliance Statement first appeared in the "Founding Act on Mutual Relations cooperation and security between NATO and the Russian Federation" signed in Paris on May 27, 1997. NATO’s Madrid Summit in July 1997 reiterated the decision and directed NATO’s Foreign Ministers to issue political guidance for the strategy review during their December meeting.

A revision of NATO's strategy is long overdue. The current "Alliance's New Strategic Concept" was adopted in November 1991. When it was formulated, the Soviet Union still existed.

"Today NATO-Russia relations are the crucial and core element of any future European Security Architecture for the 21st century", says Otfried Nassauer, Director of the Berlin Information-centre for Transatlantic Security (BITS). "When examining NATO’s strategy the Alliance is facing a litmus test. The Alliance should consult each step of reviewing its strategy with national parliaments, the new member states, Partners for Peace and most importantly with Russia."

NATO's two main strategy documents are to be re-examined, says a new research note published by BITS. The Alliance New Strategic Concept, adopted during the November 1991 NATO Summit in Rome will have to be replaced by a new politico-military strategy providing the Alliance with a rationale in the absence of a Soviet-Russian threat. NATO's military strategy document, MC 400/1, last updated in June 1996 during the Alliance's Berlin NAC-meeting will have to be revised again, to implement political guidance contained in the new politico-military strategy document. NATO will also have to reconsider documents implementing Alliance strategy such as the "Political Principles for Nuclear Planning and Consultation", adopted during the Alliance's 1992 Nuclear Planning Group Meeting in Gleneagles, Scotland. The Alliance will have to re-examine its nuclear doctrine and posture. "If Russia is no longer NATO's credible raison d'Ítre for maintaining nuclear weapons in Europe and the nuclear sharing arrangements in place, then the Alliance will have to come up with a fresh and convincing justification for its nuclear posture - or abolish it", says Otfried Nassauer.

For further information or a copy of the research note, please contact Otfried Nassauer or Oliver Meier at +49-30-441 0220 or +49-30-442 6042 (ph); fax +49-30-441 0221