NATO declaration from Chicago: Press Release

Issued by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Chicago on 20 May 2012

Issued on 20 May. 2012

1. We, the Heads of State and Government of the member countries of the North Atlantic Alliance, have gathered in Chicago to renew our commitment to ourvital transatlantic bond; take stock of progress in, and reconfirm our commitment to, our operations in Afghanistan, Kosovo and elsewhere; ensure the Alliance has the capabilities it needs to deal with the full range of threats; and strengthen our wide range of partnerships.

2. Our nations are united in their commitment to the Washington Treaty and to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations. Based on solidarity, Alliance cohesion and the indivisibility of our security, NATO remains the transatlantic framework for strong collective defence and the essential forum for security consultations and decisions among Allies. Our 2010 Strategic Concept continues to guide us in fulfilling effectively, and always in accordance with international law, our three essential core tasks – collective defence, crisis management, and cooperative security – all of which contribute to safeguarding Alliance members.

3. At a time of complex security challenges and financial difficulties, it is more important than ever to make the best use of our resources and to continue to adapt our forces and structures. We remain committed to our common values, and are determined to ensure NATO’s ability to meet any challenges to our shared security.

4. We pay tribute to all the brave men and women from Allied and partner nations serving in NATO-led missions and operations. We commend them for their professionalism and dedication and acknowledge the invaluable support provided to them by their families and loved ones. We owe a special debt of gratitude to all those who have lost their lives or been injured during the course of their duties, and we extend our profound sympathy to their families and loved ones.

5. Today we have taken further important steps on the road to a stable and secure Afghanistanand to our goal of preventing Afghanistan from ever again becoming a safe haven for terrorists that threaten Afghanistan, the region, and the world. The irreversible transition of full security responsibility from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) is on track for completion by the end of 2014, as agreed at our Lisbon Summit. We also recognise in this context the importance of a comprehensive approach and continued improvements in governance and development, as well as a political process involving successful reconciliation and reintegration. We welcome the announcement by President Karzai on the third tranche of provinces that will start transition. This third tranche means that 75% of Afghanistan’s population will live in areas where the ANSF have taken the lead for security. By mid-2013, when the fifth and final tranche of provinces starts transition, we will have reachedan important milestone in our Lisbon roadmap, and the ANSF will be in the lead for security nationwide . At that milestone, as ISAF shifts from focusing primarily on combat increasingly to the provision of training, advice and assistance to the ANSF , ISAF will be able to ensure that the Afghans have the support they need as they adjust to their new increased responsibility. We are gradually and responsibly drawing down our forces to complete the ISAF mission by 31 December 2014.

6. By the end of 2014, when the Afghan Authorities will have full security responsibility, the NATO-led combat mission will end. We will, however, continue to provide strong and long-term political and practical support through our Enduring Partnership with Afghanistan. NATO is ready to work towards establishing, at the request of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, a new post-2014 mission of a different nature in Afghanistan, to train, advise and assist the ANSF, including the Afghan Special Operations Forces. This will not be a combat mission. We task the Council to begin immediately work on the military planning process for the post-ISAF mission.

7. At the International Conference on Afghanistan held in Bonn in December 2011, the international community made a commitment to support Afghanistanin its Transformation Decade beyond 2014. NATO will play its part alongside other actors in building sufficient and sustainable Afghan forces capable of providing security for their own country. In this context, Allies welcome contributions and reaffirm their strong commitment to contribute to the financial sustainment of the ANSF. We also call on the international community to commit to this long-term sustainment of the ANSF. Effective funding mechanisms and expenditure arrangements for all strands of the ANSF will build upon existing mechanisms, integrating the efforts of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and of the international community. They will be guided by the principles of flexibility, transparency, accountability, and cost effectiveness, and will include measures against corruption.

8. We reiterate the importance Allies attach to seeing tangible progress by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan regarding its commitments made at the Bonn Conference on 5 December 2011 to a democratic society, based on the rule of law and good governance, including progress in the fight against corruption, where the human rights and fundamental freedoms of its citizens, including the equality of men and women and the active participation of both in Afghan society, are respected. The forthcoming elections must be conducted with full respect for Afghan sovereignty and in accordance with the Afghan Constitution. Their transparency, inclusivity and credibility will also be of paramount importance. Continued progress towards these goals will encourage NATO nations to further provide their support up to and beyond 2014.

9. We also underscore the importance of our shared understanding with the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan regarding the full participation of all Afghan women in the reconstruction, political, peace and reconciliation processes in Afghanistan and the need to respect the institutional arrangements protecting their rights. We recognise also the need for the protection of children from the damaging effects of armed conflict.

10. We also recognise that security and stability in the “Heart of Asia” is interlinked across the region. The Istanbul Process on regional security and cooperation, which was launched in November 2011, reflects the commitment of Afghanistan and the countries in the region to jointly ensure security, stability and development in a regional context. The countries in the region, particularly Pakistan, have important roles in ensuring enduring peace, stability and security in Afghanistan and in facilitating the completion of the transition process. We stand ready to continue dialogue and practical cooperation with relevant regional actors in this regard. We welcome the progress on transit arrangements with our Central Asian partners and Russia. NATO continues to work with Pakistan to reopen the ground lines of communication as soon as possible.

11. We look forward to our expanded ISAF meeting tomorrow.

12. The Alliance continues to be fully committed to the stability and security of the strategically important Balkans region. We reiterate our full support for KFOR, which continues to act carefully, firmly and impartially in accordance with its United Nations mandate set out inUnited Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1244. KFOR will continue to support the development of a peaceful, stable, and multi-ethnic Kosovo. KFOR will also continue to contribute to the maintenance of freedom of movement and ensuringa safe and secure environment for all people in Kosovo, in cooperation with all relevant actors, including the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) and the EU Special Representative, as agreed, and the Kosovo authorities. We will maintain KFOR’s robust and credible capability to carry out its mission. We remain committed to moving towards a smaller, more flexible, deterrent presence, only oncethe security situation allows. We welcome the progress made in developing the Kosovo Security Force, under NATO’s supervision and commend it for its readiness and capability to implement its security tasks and responsibilities. We will continue to look for opportunities to develop NATO’s ongoing role with the Kosovo Security Force.

13. Last year, through the UN-mandated Operation Unified Protector (OUP), and with the support of the League of Arab States, our Alliance played a crucial role in protecting the civilian population in Libya and in helping save thousands of lives. We commend the Libyan people for the progress achieved to date on their path towards building a new, free, democratic Libya that fully respects human rights and fundamental freedoms, and encourage them to build on that progress.

14. Our successful operation in Libya showed once more that the Alliance can quickly and effectively conduct complex operations in support of the broader international community. We have also learned a number of important lessons which we are incorporating into our plans and policies. With OUP, NATO set new standards of consultation and practical cooperation with partner countries who contributed to our operation, as well as with other international and regional organisations. In this context, we recognise the value of the Libya Contact Group.

15. The Alliance is also contributing to peace and security through other operations and missions:

1. We welcome the extension of the mandate of our counter-piracy operation off the Horn of Africa, Operation Ocean Shield, for a further two years through to 2014. The decision to carry out enhanced actions at sea should allow us to be more effective in eroding the operational reach of pirates at sea. We remain committed to supporting international counter-piracy efforts, including through working together with the EU Operation Atalanta, as agreed, Combined Task Force 151 and other naval forces, and through our ongoing participation in the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia. We encourage the shipping industry to adopt Best Management Practices and othermeasures proven effective against piracy, in compliance with international law.

2. Operation Active Endeavour is our Article 5 maritime operation in the Mediterranean which contributes to the fight against terrorism. We are reviewing strategic options for the future of this operation.

3. We continue to provide the African Union (AU) with operational support, at its request. We have agreed to extend strategic air and maritime lift support for the AU’s Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and support the development of the AU’s long-term peacekeeping capabilities, including the African Stand-by Force. We stand ready to consider further AU requests for NATO training assistance.

4. We have successfully concluded the NATO Training Mission in Iraq (NTM-I) which contributed to a more stable Iraq by assisting in the capacity building of Iraq’s security institutions.

16. Widespread sexual and gender-based violence in conflict situations, the lack of effective institutional arrangements to protect women, and the continued under-representation of women in peace processes, remain serious impediments to building sustainable peace. We remain committed to the full implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on Women, Peace and Security and related Resolutions which are aimed at protecting and promoting women’s rights, role, and participation in preventing and ending conflict. In line with the NATO/Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) Policy, the Alliance, together with its partners, has made significant progress in implementing the goals articulated in these Resolutions. In this regard, we have today endorsed a Strategic Progress Report on mainstreaming UNSCR 1325 and related Resolutions into NATO-led Operations and Missions, and welcomed Norway’s generous offer to provide a NATO Special Representative for these important issues. In this context, and to further advance this work, we have tasked the Council to: continue implementing the Policy and the Action Plan; undertake a review of the practical implications of UNSCR 1325 for the conduct of NATO operations and missions; further integrate gender perspectives into Alliance activities; and submit a report for our next Summit.

17. We also remain committed to the implementation of UNSCR 1612 and related Resolutions on the protection of children affected by armed conflict. We note with concern the growing range of threats to children in armed conflict and strongly condemn that they are increasingly subject to recruitment, sexual violence and targeted attacks. NATO-led operations, such as ISAF in Afghanistan, are taking an active role in preventing, monitoring and responding to violations against children, including through pre-deployment training and a violations alert mechanism. This approach, based on practical, field-oriented measures, demonstrates NATO’s firm commitment on this issue, as does the recent appointment of a NATO Focal Point for Children and Armed Conflict in charge of maintaining a close dialogue with the UN. NATO-UN cooperation in this field is creating a set of good practices to be integrated in NATO training modules and taken into account in possible future operations.

18. Our operational experiences have shown that military means, although essential, are not enough on their own to meet the many complex challenges to our security. We reaffirm our Lisbon Summit decisions on a comprehensive approach. In order to fulfil these commitments, important work on NATO’s contribution to a comprehensive approach and on stabilisation and reconstruction is ongoing. An appropriate but modest civilian crisis management capability has been established, both at the NATO Headquarters and within Allied Command Operations, in accordance with the principles and detailed political guidance we set out at our Summit in Lisbon.

19. We will continue to enhance our political dialogue and practical cooperation with the UN in line with the UN-NATO Declaration of September 2008. We welcome the strengthened cooperation and enhanced liaison between NATO and the UN that has been achieved since our last Summit meeting in Lisbon in November 2010, and which alsocontributed to the success of OUP.

20. NATO and the EU share common values and strategic interests. The EU is a unique and essential partner for NATO. Fully strengthening this strategic partnership, as agreed by our two organisations and enshrined in the Strategic Concept, is particularly important in the current environment of austerity; NATO and the EU should continue to work to enhance practical cooperation in operations, broaden political consultations, and cooperate more fully in capability development. NATO and the EU are working side by side in crisis management operations, in a spirit of mutual reinforcement, and in particular in Afghanistan, Kosovo and fighting piracy. NATO recognises the importance of a stronger and more capable European defence. NATO also recognises non-EU Allies’ ongoing concerns and their significant contributions to strengthening the EU’s capacities to address common security challenges. For the strategic partnership between NATO and the EU, non-EU Allies’ fullest involvement in these efforts is essential. In this context, NATO will work closely with the EU, as agreed, to ensure that our Smart Defence and the EU’s Pooling and Sharing initiatives are complementary and mutually reinforcing; we welcome the efforts of the EU, in particular in the areas of air-to-air refuelling, medical support, maritime surveillance and training. We also welcome the national efforts in these and other areas by European Allies and Partners. We also encourage the Secretary General to continue his dialogue with the EU High Representative with a view to making our cooperation more effective, and to report to the Council in time for the next Summit.

21. We continue to work closely with the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), in particular in areas such as conflict prevention and resolution, post-conflict rehabilitation, and in addressing new security threats. We are committed to further enhancing our cooperation, both at the political and operational level, in all areas of common interest.

22. NATO has a wide network of partnership relations. We highly value all of NATO’s partners and the contributions they make to the work of the Alliance as illustrated through several partnership meetings we are holding here in Chicago. Partnerships play a crucial role in the promotion of international peace and security. NATO’s partnerships are a key element of Cooperative Security which is one of the core tasks of the Alliance, and the Alliance has developed effective policies in order to enhance its partnerships. Through the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and the Partnership for Peace, we have pursued cooperation with our Euro-Atlantic partners to build a Europe whole, free and at peace. For twenty years, our partnerships have facilitated, and provided frameworks for, political dialogue and practical regional cooperation in the fields of security and defence, contribute to advancing our common values, allow us to share expertise and experience, and make a significant contribution to the success of many of our operations and missions. NATO Foreign Ministers in Berlin in April 2011 approved a More Efficient and Flexible Partnership Policy to enhance the effectiveness of NATO’s partnerships. We will continue to actively pursue its further implementation with a view to strengthening NATO’s partnerships, including by: reinforcing the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, the Mediterranean Dialogue, the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, and our relationships with partners across the globe, while making full use of flexible formats; further developing our political and practical cooperation with partners, including in an operational context; and through increasing partner involvement in training, education, and exercises, including with the NATO Response Force. We will intensify our efforts to better engage with partners across the globe who can contribute significantly to security, and to reach out to partners concerned, including our newest partner Mongolia, to build trust, increase transparency, and develop political dialogue and practical cooperation. In this context, we welcome the Joint Political Declaration between Australia and NATO.

23. We appreciate our partners’ significant contributions to our practical cooperation activities and to the different Trust Funds which support our partnership goals. We welcome the Status Report on Building Integrity and the progress achieved by NATO’s Building Integrity Programme which has made important contributions to promoting transparency, accountability, and integrity in the defence sector of interested nations.

24. We welcome our meeting in Chicago withthirteen partners 1 who have recently made particular political, operational, and financial contributions to NATO-led operations. This is an example of the enhanced flexibility with which we are addressing partnership issues in a demand and substance-driven way. Our meeting in Chicago with partners providesus with a unique opportunity to discuss the lessons learned from our cooperation, and to exchange views on the common security challenges we face. Joint training and exercises will be essential in maintaining our interoperability and interconnectedness with partner forces, including when we are not engaged together in active operations. We will share ideas generated at this Chicago meeting with all our partners, within the appropriate frameworks, for additional discussion.

25. In accordance with Article 10 of the Washington Treaty, NATO’s door will remain open to all European democracies which share the values of our Alliance, which are willing and able to assume the responsibilities and obligations of membership, which are in a position to further the principles of the Treaty, and whose inclusion can contribute to security in the North Atlantic area. Based on these considerations, we will keep the progress of each of the partners that aspire to join the Alliance under active review, judging each on its own merits. We reaffirm our strong commitment to the Euro-Atlantic integration of the partners that aspire to join the Alliance in accordance with previous decisions taken at the Bucharest, Strasbourg-Kehl, and Lisbon Summits. We welcome progress made by these four partners and encourage them to continue to implement the necessary decisions and reforms to advance their Euro-Atlantic aspirations. For our part, we will continue to offer political and practical support to partners that aspire to join the Alliance. NATO’s enlargement has contributed substantially to the security of Allies; the prospect of further enlargement and the spirit of cooperative security continue to advance stability in Europe more broadly.

26. We reiterate the agreement at our 2008 Bucharest Summit, as we did at subsequent Summits, to extend an invitation to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia 2 to join the Alliance as soon as a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue has been reached within the framework of the UN, and stronglyurge intensified efforts towards that end. An early solution, and subsequent membership, will contribute to security and stability in the region. We encourage the negotiations to be pursued without further delay and expect them to be concluded as soon as possible. We welcome, and continue to support, the ongoing reform efforts in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and encourage continued implementation. We also encourage its efforts to further build a multi-ethnic society. We appreciate the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’s substantial contributions to our operations, as well as its active role in regional cooperation activities. We value the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’s long-standing commitment to the NATO accession process .

27. We welcome the significantprogress that Montenegro has made towards NATO membership and its contribution to security in the Western Balkans region and beyond, including through its active role in regional cooperation activities and its participation in ISAF. We also welcome the increasing public support for NATO membership in Montenegro, and will continue to assist this process. Montenegro’s active engagement in the MAP process demonstrates firm commitment to join the Alliance. Montenegro has successfully implemented significant political, economic and defence reforms, and we encourage it to continue on that path so it can draw even closer to the Alliance . We will keep Montenegro’s progress towards membership under active review.

28. We continue to fully support the membership aspirations of Bosnia and Herzegovina. We welcome the significant progress that has been made in recent months, including the establishment of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Council of Ministers, and the political agreement reached on 9 March 2012 on the registration of immovable defence property as state property. These developments are a sign of the political will in Bosnia and Herzegovina to move the reform process forward, and we encourage all political actors in the country to continue to work constructively to further implement the reforms necessary for its Euro-Atlantic integration. The political agreement on defence and state properties is an important step towards fulfilment of the condition set by NATO Foreign Ministers in Tallinn in April 2010 for full participation in the MAP process. We welcome the initial steps taken regarding implementation, and we urge the political leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina to further their efforts to work constructively to implement the agreement without delay in order to start its first MAP cycle as soon as possible. The Alliance will continue to follow progress in implementation and will provide assistance to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s reform efforts . We appreciate Bosnia and Herzegovina’s contribution to NATO-led operations and commend its constructive role in regional and international security.

29. At the 2008 Bucharest Summit we agreed that Georgia will become a member of NATO and we reaffirm all elements of that decision, as well as subsequent decisions. The NATO-Georgia Commission and Georgia’s Annual National Programme (ANP) have a central role in supervising the process set in hand at the Bucharest Summit. We welcome Georgia’s progress since the Bucharest Summit to meet its Euro-Atlantic aspirations through its reforms, implementation of its Annual National Programme, and active political engagement with the Alliance in the NATO-Georgia Commission. In that context, we have agreed to enhance Georgia’s connectivity with the Alliance, including by further strengthening our political dialogue, practical cooperation, and interoperability with Georgia. We continue to encourage and actively support Georgia's ongoing implementation of all necessary reforms, including democratic, electoral, and judicial reforms, as well as security and defence reforms. We stress the importance of conducting free, fair, and inclusive elections in 2012 and 2013. We appreciate Georgia’s substantialcontribution, in particular as the second largest non-NATO troop contributing nation to ISAF, to Euro-Atlantic security.

30. We reiterate our continued support to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia within its internationally recognised borders. We welcome Georgia’s full compliance with the EU-mediated cease-fire agreement and other unilateral measures to build confidence. We welcome Georgia’s commitment not to use force and call on Russia to reciprocate. We continue to call on Russia to reverse its recognition of the South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions of Georgia as independent states. We encourage all participants in the Geneva talks to play a constructive role as well as to continue working closely with the OSCE, the UN, and the EU to pursue peaceful conflict resolution in the internationally-recognised territory of Georgia.

31. Here in Chicago, our Foreign Ministers are meeting with their counterparts from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Georgia, in order to take stock of their individual progress, plan future cooperation, and exchange views with our partners, including on their participation in partnership activities and contributions to operations. We are grateful to these partners that aspire to NATO membership for the important contributions they are making to NATO-led operations, and which demonstrate their commitment to our shared security goals.

32. In the strategically important Western Balkans region, democratic values, regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations are important for lasting peace and stability. We are encouraged by the progress being made, including in regional cooperation formats, and will continue to actively support Euro-Atlantic aspirations in this region. Together, Allies and partners of the region actively contribute to the maintenance of regional and international peace, including through regional cooperation formats.

33. We continue to support Serbia’s Euro-Atlantic integration. We welcome Serbia’s progress in building a stronger partnership with NATO and encourage Belgrade to continue on this path. NATO stands ready to continue to deepen political dialogue and practical cooperation with Serbia . We will continue assisting Serbia’s reform efforts, and encourage further work.

34. We call upon Serbia to support further efforts towards the consolidation of peace and stability in Kosovo. We urge all parties concerned to cooperate fully with KFOR and EULEX in the execution of their respective mandates for which unconditional freedom of movement is necessary. We urge Belgrade and Pristina to take full advantage of the opportunities offered to promote peace, security, and stability in the region, in particular by the European Union-facilitated dialogue. We welcome progress made in the European Union-facilitated Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, including the Agreement on Regional Cooperation and the IBM technical protocol. Dialogue between them and Euro-Atlantic integration of the region are key for a sustained improvement in security and stability in the Western Balkans. We call on both parties to implement fully existing agreements, and to move forward on all outstanding issues, including on the conclusion of additional agreements on telecommunications and electricity. We welcome progress achieved and encourage further efforts aimed at consolidating the rule of law, and other reform efforts, in Kosovo.

35. An independent, sovereign and stable Ukraine, firmly committed to democracy and the rule of law, is key to Euro-Atlantic security. Marking the fifteenth anniversary of the NATO-Ukraine Charter on a Distinctive Partnership, we welcome Ukraine’s commitment to enhancing political dialogue and interoperability with NATO, as well as its contributions to NATO-led operations and new offers made. We note the recent elimination of Ukraine’s highly enriched uranium in March 2012, which demonstrates a proven commitment to non-proliferation.Recalling our decisions in relation to Ukraine and our Open Door policy stated at the Bucharest and Lisbon Summits, NATO is ready to continue to develop its cooperation with Ukraine and assist with the implementation of reforms in the framework of the NATO-Ukraine Commission and the Annual National Programme (ANP). Noting the principles and commitments enshrined in the NATO-Ukraine Charter and the ANP, we are concerned by the selective application of justice and what appear to be politically motivated prosecutions, including of leading members of the opposition, and the conditions of their detention. We encourage Ukraine to address the existing shortcomings of its judicial system to ensure full compliance with the rule of law and the international agreements to which it is a party. We also encourage Ukraine to ensure free, fair and inclusive Parliamentary elections this autumn.

36. NATO-Russia cooperation is of strategic importance as it contributes to creating a common space of peace, stability and security. We remain determined to build a lasting and inclusive peace, together with Russia, in the Euro-Atlantic area, based upon the goals, principles and commitments of the NATO-Russia Founding Act and the Rome Declaration. We want to see a true strategic partnership between NATO and Russia, and we will act accordingly with the expectation of reciprocity from Russia.

37. This year, we mark the tenth anniversary of the establishment of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) and the fifteenth anniversary of the NATO-Russia Founding Act. We welcome important progress in our cooperation with Russia over the years. At the same time, we differ on specific issues and there is a need to improve trust, reciprocal transparency, and predictability in order to realise the full potential of the NRC. In this context, we intend to raise with Russia in the NRC Allied concerns about Russia’s stated intentions regarding military deployments close to Alliance borders. Mindful of the goals, principles and commitments which underpin the NRC, and on this firm basis, we urge Russia to meet its commitments with respect to Georgia, as mediated by the EU on 12 August and 8 September 2008 3. We continue to be concerned by the build-up of Russia’s military presence on Georgia’s territory and continue t

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