NATO started in 1949 with 12 allies and today stands at 29. Working together to prevent conflict and preserve peace.
NATO member states:
1949 – Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, UK, USA
1952 – Greece and Turkey
1955 – Germany
1982 – Spain
1999 – Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland
2004 – Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia
2009 – Albania and Croatia
2017 – Montenegro
NATO partner countries:
Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Finland, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Georgia, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Kyrghyz Republic, Malta, The Republic of Moldova, Russia, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan.
NATO Foreign Ministers gathered on 3rd April 2019 to celebrate 70 years of the treaty, in the same room where Foreign Ministers of the founding allies met on the 4th April 1949. The alliance that has been a stable force, protecting billions of people around the world from the threat of war and protecting those in Eastern Europe living in the new democracies emerging after the collapse of the Soviet Union from the threat of Russian intimidation. However, this milestone birthday comes at a time with the alliance is divided by conflicts and uncertainty.
Problems on the inside
Turkey, the second largest force of NATO is forming an alliance with Russia by taking significant steps in Syria. Fahrettin Altun, editor-in-chief of political magazine Kriter tweeted ‘Our mutual commitment to working together and goodwill helps our bilateral relations and our cooperation on regional issues to develop in all areas from the economy to security’.
A direct challenge of the unwritten NATO rules of allying with Russia. Understandably, Turkey has faced criticism for their position with Russia as Mike Pence, US Vice President asked “Turkey must choose: Does it want to remain a critical partner in the most successful military alliance in history of the world? Or does it want to risk the security of that partnership by making reckless decisions that undermine our alliance?”
NATO Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg, talking at the White House on 2nd April 2019, faced criticism from President Trump due to the financial burden on the US for the security of Europe, with the US contributing more to the NATO defence spending than any other nation. Yet the US does not regard Russia as the enemy, but disapproves of Turkey’s relationship with them. Whilst Europe fears Russian aggression but is reluctant to increase defence spending. If NATO’s biggest military powers do not see Russia as threat whilst the rest are fearful of ‘Russian aggression’, there are significant indications of deep rooted differences simmering beneath the surface.