NATO: Partnership for Peace

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg at a press conference in 2015 © NATO

The North Atlantic Treaty organization is a military and political alliance between 29 European and North American states. The North Atlantic Treaty organization works together with partner countries in order to collectively promote security. Switzerland cooperates with the organization as part of the Partnership for Peace and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. In so doing, Switzerland is also able to bring its security and foreign policy concerns to the table.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) is one of the fundamental organizations for security policy issues in Europe. Its strategic concept encompasses collective defence (as part of the obligation to assist enshrined in the treaty), crisis management and cooperative security. In addition, NATO is a central instrument for the transformation of armed forces and their adaptation to the challenges of the 21st century.

After the end of the Cold War, NATO suggested to its former enemies in the Warsaw Pact that they create a framework for cooperation to build confidence. This gave rise to the Partnership for Peace (PfP) which was created as an instrument for cooperation between NATO and its partner countries in 1994. PfP is a key instrument for collective security.

Partnership for Peace (PfP)

PfP is a flexible instrument for cooperation between NATO and its partner countries. 21 states from Eastern and Southern Europe, the South Caucasus, Central Asia and Western Europe (including the six Western European countries Switzerland, Austria, Finland, Ireland, Sweden and Malta) take part in the PfP. Each country establishes those areas for which cooperation with other PfP participants is regulated with NATO.

Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC)

Founded in 1997, the EAPC is a forum for political consultation in which the 29 NATO members and 21 partner states exchange both information and their views on current security policy issues.

NATO’s partnership policy

The policy of collective security developed in the 1990s. Cooperation in the field of security policy takes place bilaterally with NATO as an organization as well as within thematically defined forums. An example here is the exchange between NATO and the six Western European partners listed above.

PfP and its significance for Swiss foreign policy

The PfP provides Switzerland with an institutional framework for dialogue on security policy issues with other countries within its strategic sphere. This is important given that Switzerland is one of the few countries between the Atlantic and Ukraine that belongs neither to the European Union (EU), which has its own common security and defence policy, nor to NATO.

The PfP gives Switzerland access to other NATO partnerships with countries of the Mediterranean and the Middle East. It can therefore forge ties to important foreign and security policy regions.

The PfP helps prepare Switzerland’s armed forces for their participation in peace-keeping missions abroad under the command of NATO, the EU or the United Nations (UN).

Switzerland offers its partner countries regular training courses and seminars, and takes part in technical support projects. This enables it to intensify its bilateral relations as well.

PfP – A platform for security policy issues

The PfP provides Switzerland with a platform on which to raise important foreign and security policy issues, such as: 

  • the extension of international humanitarian law
  • the reform of the security sector
  • the democratic control of armed forces
  • long-term cooperation on security risks, counter-terrorism
  • and cooperation on civilian emergency planning.