9 Facts About NATO You Should Know
NATO, which has been on the agenda frequently in recent days, is shown as one of the most powerful military alliances in the world.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a security alliance between 30 independent countries in Europe and North America. NATO members develop common defense against attack from any outside power. The headquarters of the organization is located in Brussels, the capital of Belgium. The total military expenditure of the member countries of the organization is more than 70% of the world’s defense expenditures. Article 5 of the Treaty recognizes that an attack on a NATO member is an attack on all members. This article was first implemented after the September 11 attacks in 2001. After the September 11 attacks, NATO troops were deployed to Afghanistan. After that day, the organization participated in many more operations. Let’s take a look at some facts about this organization that we’ve been hearing about a lot lately.
1. NATO was established on April 4, 1949
In 1948, after the Second World War, the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg formed an alliance called the Western European Union. However, after the start of the Cold War, the Soviet threat made itself felt more strongly. For this reason, countries began to seek a broader alliance. Thereupon, 5 members of the Western European Union, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Italy, Norway, Portugal and the USA signed the North Atlantic Treaty in Washington DC. Thus, NATO was established.
2. NATO has 30 members
When it was first established, the organization had only 12 members. Later, 18 more countries joined NATO: Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Turkey. The last country to join the alliance was North Macedonia in 2020.
3. NATO security partner with more than 40 countries
NATO has established a worldwide safety net alongside its members in North America and Europe. Among NATO’s security partners; African Union, European Union, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
4. The most effective intervention of the organization took place in the Bosnian War
Thousands of Bosnian civilians were killed and tens of thousands of people were tortured in the war that started in 1992 in Bosnia and Herzegovina and continued uninterruptedly for 3 years. NATO, led by US forces, made a military intervention to put a stop to this war. For a long time, everyone was silent about this human drama that took place before the eyes of the world. On August 30, 1995, NATO began to strike Serbian targets with “Operation Decisive Force”. A total of 750 attacks were carried out as part of the operation and the Serbs had to lift the siege of Sarajevo.
5. An attack on a NATO member is considered an attack on all members
Article 5 of the Treaty considers an attack on any NATO member as an attack on all members. This highlights NATO’s primary purpose: to protect member states and their citizens.
6. Article 5 came to the fore after 9/11
NATO’s Article 5 was used only once after the September 11 attacks. Attacks by al-Qaeda-linked militants led to the implementation of Article 5 the next day. At that time, NATO stepped up its investigations into terrorist activities around the world, launching military operations outside the Auro-Atlantic region for the first time. The organization also launched a counter-terrorism operation for possible terrorist activities in the United States.
7. France left the military wing of NATO in 1966
After 1958, French President Charles de Gaulle began to question the US dominance over the NATO administration. When relations between the organization and France became strained, France decided to leave the organization. Thereupon, NATO soldiers and headquarters were expelled from France. However, in the following periods, France joined the military structure of NATO again.
8. NATO members need to spend 2% of their Gross Domestic Product on defense
In 2014, NATO asked all member states to spend at least 2% of their GDP on defense. Currently, only a small minority of member states, such as the USA and the UK, can meet this demand. However, by 2024, 15 member countries are expected to reach the 2% target.
9. Article 10 of the Treaty summarizes NATO’s ‘open door policy’
Article 10 of NATO states that any European country can become a member of the organization as long as it abides by the alliance’s membership rules. The North Atlantic Council determines whether a country can join the organization or not. A number of countries, particularly Eastern Europe, are currently seeking to join the alliance. These countries include Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia and Ukraine.