Significant steps were taken at the 2006 Riga Summit to increase the operational relevance of NATO’s cooperation with countries that are part of its structured partnership frameworks as well as other countries around the world.
At the 2010 Lisbon Summit, Allies agreed to develop a more efficient and flexible partnership policy, in time for the meeting of Allied foreign ministers in Berlin in . To this end, they decided to:
- streamline NATO’s partnership tools in order to open all cooperative activities and exercises to partners and to harmonise partnership programmes;
- better engage with partners across the globe who contribute significantly to security and reach out to relevant partners to build trust, increase transparency and develop practical cooperation;
- develop flexible formats to discuss security challenges with partners and enhance existing fora for political dialogue; and
- build on improvements in NATO’s training mechanisms and consider methods to enhance individual partners’ ability to build capacity.
These steps, reinforced by Bucharest Summit, defined a set of objectives for these relationships and created avenues for enhanced political dialogue, including meetings of the North Atlantic Council with ministers of the countries concerned, high-level talks, and meetings with ambassadors
Following the 2010 Lisbon Summit and NATO’s subsequent revision of its partnership policy in , the global context has changed significantly. As NATO became increasingly confronted with new defence and security challenges such as cyber attacks, disinformation, disruptive technologies and the erosion of arms control regimes, NATO recognised the importance of adapting to these new security challenges, including working closer together with NATO’s partners.
This increasing engagement with NATO’s like-minded partners, regardless of geographic location, on the basis of the shared values of democratic freedoms, rule of law and human rights, allows Allies to discuss relevant developments in the regions with partners, and increase their situational awareness and understanding of strategic issues on relevant global developments.
This decision marked a policy shift for the Alliance, allowing these countries to have access, through the case-by-case approval of the North Atlantic Council, to activities offered under NATO’s structured partnerships
In , NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg launched his outline for NATO 2030. In order for NATO to keep its Allies safe in a more uncertain world, the Secretary General stated that ilove desktop NATO must “stay strong militarily, be more united politically, and take a broader approach globally.” NATO taking a more global approach means working even more closely with like-minded partners to develop coherent, strong, unified and collective responses to defend our values in a world of increased global competition.
The global pillar of NATO 2030 is particularly relevant to NATO’s engagement with its four Asia-Pacific partners – Australia, Japan, the Republic of Korea and New Zealand. As the challenges confronting the Euro-Atlantic area and the Asia-Pacific region are increasingly converging, it is vital for NATO and its four close partners in the Asia-Pacific region to enhance cooperation and dialogue to support security in both regions, but also to work together to strengthen the international rules-based order. In , for the first time, the four Asia-Pacific partners participated in a NATO Foreign Ministerial Meeting, where NATO Allies discussed the shift in the global balance of power and the rise of China with the Asia-Pacific partners, as well as with Finland, Sweden and the European Union High Representative/ Vice President of the European Commission.
At the 2021 Brussels Summit, Allies agreed to increase dialogue and practical cooperation between NATO and existing partners, including partners in the Asia-Pacific, and to strengthen NATO engagement with key global actors and other new interlocutors beyond the Euro-Atlantic area, including from Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Since 1998, NATO has invited countries across the globe to participate in its activities, workshops, exercises and conferences. These countries were known as “Contact Countries”.