NATO Partner Countries:


Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Finland, Georgia, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Malta, The Republic of Moldova, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan


Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, EAPC


After the end of the Cold War, NATO set its sights on closer co-operation and dialogue with the Balkan, Eastern European, Southern Caucasus and Central Asian countries that lay outside the alliance. In 1991 the North Atlantic Cooperation Council was created, which was further developed at the 1997 NATO summit in Madrid to become the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC), making the security forum more expansive and profound for the states involved. Today 50 states sit at the table of the EAPC, of which 28 are NATO member states and 22 are partner states.


Partnership for Peace, PfP


Partnership for Peace is a partnership programme created in 1994 to facilitate practical NATO co-operation for helping the Central and Eastern European nations participating in the programme develop democracy, restructure and build up their military structures, and participate in NATO-led peace support operations. PfP gives partner states an opportunity to develop co-operation with NATO in accordance with their own priority co-operation sectors.


Estonia participated in both the EAPC and PfP programmes starting in 1994, which provided us with a good framework for preparing Estonia’s state defence structures for NATO membership. A significant contribution came from the PfP’s training programme for officials dealing with the Defence Forces and security policy, but the experience of co-operating with members of the alliance in peace support operations was also invaluable.


Co-operation with Mediterranean Dialogue (MD) states


The founding idea of the Mediterranean Dialogue comes from the declaration of the Brussels summit of 1994, in which the NATO heads of state and government referred to the positive results of the Middle East peace process. In February 1995, Egypt, Israel, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia were invited to take part in a dialogue with NATO. In November 1995 the invitation was extended to Jordan and in February 2000 to Algeria. Now Libya is also expected to join the Mediterranean Dialogue. The goal of the dialogue is to support stability and security in the Mediterranean region, to achieve better understanding, and to correct the notions that states participating in the Mediterranean Dialogue may have about NATO. Based on a decision from the 1997 Madrid summit, the Mediterranean Co-operation Group was created to formalise co-operation. In April 1999 at the Washington summit, the leaders of the alliance decided to expand the political and practical dimensions of the dialogue. NATO’s co-operation with Mediterranean Dialogue countries gained importance following the terror attacks on the USA.


Co-operation within the MD takes place based on Individual Co-operation Programmes and annual Work Programmes with the goal of advancing political dialogue and creating practical co-operation based on the interest and needs of the partners. The Mediterranean Dialogue focuses on practical co-operation in the security and defence, information, civil emergency aid planning and science sectors. Also essential are the fight against terrorism and matters related to maritime security (primarily the fight against piracy) and co-operation in energy security and public diplomacy.


Istanbul Co-operation Initiative


During the NATO summit in Istanbul in 2004, it was decided to offer the opportunity to co-operate through the Istanbul Co-operation Initiative (ICI) to the greater Middle Eastern region. By June 2005, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates had joined the initiative, and the door is open to other nations of the Persian Gulf Co-operation Council—Oman and Saudi Arabia. The ICI is based on joint ownership, which means that the mutual needs of NATO and the participating nations are emphasised while taking into account the countries’ diversity and specific needs. The goal of the ICI is to promote multilateral co-operation as well as mutually beneficial bilateral relations with nations in the region, primarily in the areas of defence and security. Co-operation between NATO and ICI partners takes place in the following areas: the fight against terrorism, preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction, ensuring energy security, and the fight against piracy.


NATO-Ukraine Commission, NUC


As a partner country Ukraine has made a significant contribution to creating and supporting peace, having participated in all NATO peace support operations to date.  NATO and Ukraine’s close co-operation and partnership is based on the Charter for a Distinctive Partnership from the 1997 Madrid summit, according to which the permanent NATO-Ukraine Commission was created. The commission gives evaluations on the implementation of the charter and makes proposals as to how to improve and develop co-operation. Although the current government of Ukraine does not consider accession to NATO one of its goals, this has not reduced the practical co-operation between Ukraine and NATO.


At the Lisbon summit in 2010, the leaders of the member states expressed their respect for Ukraine’s non-bloc status and welcomed the Ukrainian government’s commitment to continue Ukraine’s comprehensive partnership with NATO. The open-door policy will also continue, which means that in accordance with the decision made at the 2008 Bucharest summit, Ukraine could become a NATO member in the future. 


Estonia has shared its experiences with compiling an Annual National Plan (ANP) with Ukraine, as well as other reform experiences gained during the accession process. In May 1997 a NATO Information and Document Centre was opened in Kiev, which was the first centre of its kind to be established by a NATO partner country. Currently there is also a NATO Liaison Office functioning in Kiev.

In November of 2008 Estonia organised a meeting of the NATO and Ukrainian ministers of defence (NUC) in Tallinn.


NATO-Georgia Commission, NGC


Georgia has been an active co-operation partner of NATO since 1992 (EAPC, PfP). In 2002 Georgia officially expressed its desire to become a full NATO member state and in 2004 it began fulfilling an Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP), which provides practical aid to a nation in carrying out democratic, institutional and defence reforms.


Georgia participates in peacekeeping operations in Afghanistan, where its contribution per capita is the highest among ISAF nations.

At the beginning of 2008, Georgia announced its desire to begin a NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP). At the Bucharest summit it was decided not to give Georgia a MAP yet, but that Georgia would certainly become a NATO member. Following that, an Intensified Dialogue began with Georgia. In September 2008, largely as a result of the Russia-Georgia conflict in August, the permanent NATO-Georgia Commission was formed to maximise NATO’s aid to Georgia and make structural co-operation and dialogue with the aspiring member state more effective.


In accordance with the new Strategic Concept, NATO’s partnership relations with Georgia (and Ukraine) will continue and undergo further development through the respective commissions, based on the NATO decision approved at the Bucharest summit in 2008 and taking into consideration the Euro-Atlantic tendencies and efforts of both countries.


Supporting and helping Georgia by sharing its reform experiences has been one of Estonia’s foreign policy priorities, and it has been done regularly on the bilateral and multilateral levels in NATO and other international organisations.


NATO-Russia Council (NRC)


NATO-Russia relations go back to 1991, when Russia became a member of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (now the EAPC). The goal was to develop open dialogue and create trustworthy relations with Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In 1997 the NATO-Russia Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security was signed. By the end of the 90s NATO-Russia relations had greatly improved and practical co-operation gained momentum. In 2002 the NATO-Russia Council was formed, a permanent co-operation forum in which to hold dialogue on relevant security policy topics and develop practical co-operation in sectors that are of mutual interest.


NATO-Russia relations cooled off considerably due to the conflict between Russia and Georgia in August 2008—political dialogue and military co-operation were brought to a complete halt. Starting in 2009, co-operation has been gradually restored in various sectors based on mutual interests (Afghanistan, terrorism, preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction, piracy, etc.). However, there are also still items on the NATO-Russia Council’s agenda over which there are differing opinions (the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE), NATO enlargement, and Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity).


All practical civilian and military cooperation under the NRC was suspended in April 2014 in response to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. At the Wales Summit in September 2014, NATO leaders condemned Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine and demanded that Russia comply with international law and its international obligations and responsibilities; end its illegitimate occupation of Crimea; refrain from aggressive actions against Ukraine; withdraw its troops; halt the flow of weapons, equipment, people and money across the border to the separatists; and stop fomenting tension along and across the Ukrainian border.