NATO Istanbul Summit &; What it means for UK Defenc

NATO Istanbul Summit – What it means for UK Defence

On 28 and 29 June, leaders of the now 26 NATO countries met in Istanbul. The high-level meetings brought together Heads of State and Government, Defence and Foreign Ministers from NATO and partner countries.
Nato Summit - Istanbul 2004
Below, the MOD’s Directorate of Policy on International Organisations (DPIO) explains what decisions were made at the summit and what they mean for UK defence, examining in detail:

- Capabilities
- Operations
- Partnerships

What the Summit means for UK defence.

Alliance Heads of State and Government of the 26 member countries of NATO at Istanbul reaffirmed the value of the transatlantic link and of NATO as the basis for our collective defence and the essential forum for security consultation between Europe and North America.

At the last Summit, in Prague in 2002, NATO agreed to transform the Alliance with new members, new capabilities, and new relationships with partners. Istanbul gave further direction to this transformation in order to adapt NATO’s structures, procedures and capabilities to 21st century challenges.

Specific decisions taken at Istanbul included:


- Agreement to further the transformation of NATO’s capabilities, set in train at Prague, to make them more modern, more usable and more deployable to carry out the full range of Alliance missions. NATO has realised many of the Prague goals and continues to take forward transformation and work to improve the usability of NATO forces. This work includes:

- NATO’s Multinational CBRN Defence Battalion, now fully operational.
The high-readiness NATO Response Force (NRF) will reach initial operational capability later this year as expected.
- Implementation of NATO’s streamlined command structure is on track. The UK is keen to see further progress on streamlining.
- Multinational activities in strategic sea and air lift (UK participates in both), air-to-air refuelling, and the Alliance Ground Surveillance system (UK participates) continue to progress.
- Heads of State welcomed a report from Defence Ministers on steps to increase the usability of forces through the adoption of high-level political targets and individual national usability targets, both UK policy objectives.
- The Secretary General was invited to take the steps necessary to ensure that the transformation process, including on questions of management and funding, is fully implemented. UK is keen to see this work robustly taken forward in order that NATO’s internal functions and institutions are modernised in parallel with military capabilities and structures.


- Expansion of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, including through several more Provincial Reconstruction Teams and support for the upcoming elections is NATO’s key priority. The UK-led PRT will be transferred to NATO. Allies pledged to contribute to ISAF the forces necessary for successful completion of our mission in Afghanistan. In response to President Karzai’s request, ISAF is currently supporting the voter registration process and will provide enhanced support to the Afghan authorities in providing security during the election period, within means and capabilities. UK has offered HQARRC to lead ISAF, probably in 2006.

- Offer of assistance to the Government of Iraq with the training of its security forces - a decision welcomed by the UK.
In the Balkans NATO agreed to conclude the successful SFOR operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and welcomed the EU’s readiness to deploy a new and distinct mission in the country. The establishment of a NATO headquarters will constitute NATO’s residual military presence in the country.

- NATO welcomed some improved co-operation from Balkan countries with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), but stressed that all countries involved must co-operate fully. In particular bringing to justice those indicted by the Tribunal, notably Karadzic and Mladic, and Gotovina.

- Agreed an enhanced set of measures to strengthen NATO’s contribution to the international community’s fight against terrorism, including:
Improved intelligence sharing between Allies.
- Enhanced rapid response to national requests for assistance protecting against and dealing with the consequences of terrorist attacks, including CBRN weapons.
- Assistance to protect selected major events, including with NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Aircraft.
Enhanced contribution to the fight against terrorism by Operation Active Endeavour; NATO’s maritime surveillance and escort operation. OAE was extended in March 2004 to the whole of the Mediterranean. Work is underway to further improve OAE including through the support of partner countries and offers of contributory support by Russia and Ukraine.
- Enhanced capabilities to defend against terrorist attacks, including through: development of new, advanced technologies; increased partner co-operation; and work with other international and regional organisations.


- The “Open Door” policy to new members was reaffirmed. Albania, Croatia and FYROM were encouraged to continue the reforms necessary to progress towards NATO membership;
Steps were taken to further strengthen the Euro-Atlantic Partnership, in particular through liaison arrangements with countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia. The Alliance also looked forward to welcoming Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia and Montenegro into the Partnership for Peace once they have met their international obligations, in particular co-operation with ICTY on war crimes indictees.

- A decision was taken to initiate an enhanced Mediterranean partnership, aimed at practical co-operation, including on interoperability, developing defence reform and contributing to the fight against terrorism.

- NATO also offered co-operation to the broader Middle East region through the “Istanbul Co-operation Initiative”, a joint UK-US initiative. Interested countries in the region will undertake practical co-operation where NATO can add value, notably in the defence and security fields.
NATO intends to provide Partners with increased opportunities to enhance their contributions to NATO-led operations, and to help transform their defences in keeping with NATO's own evolving operational roles and capabilities.

- Co-operation with Russia in the NATO-Russia Council was welcomed and Ukraine was encouraged to continue the reforms necessary for full Euro-Atlantic integration.

Anyone think we can support this as well as the rest of our commitments and with the firfighters waiting in the wings for strike action

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