Originally founded in 1948 as the western defence alliance, NATO has changed its role dramatically after the end of the Cold War. Since the inception of its Strategic Concept in 2010, NATO’s three core tasks have been collective defence (only for members); international crisis management (in cooperation with partners) and cooperative security (further development of international security through cooperation).
Austria has been partner (Partnership for Peace – PfP) since 1995 and since 1997 it has been a member of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC). It contributes to NATO-led crisis management and peace operations, most notably to KFOR in Kosovo, where Austria with currently 400 troops and 520 troops as of September will be the largest non-NATO contingent and the fourth largest over all. Moreover Austria is deploying soldiers to ISAF in Afghanistan. The Austrian Federal Armed Forces take part in a large number of training exercises open to non-NATO members, which is indispensable for the transformation, interoperability and modernisation of its armed forces. Austria also contributes actively to the conceptual development of security, especially in the framework of the “5 Western European partners” (WEP-5), which consist of the two alliance free countries Finland and Sweden as well as the three neutral countries Ireland, Switzerland and Austria and which according to circumstances can be broadened to include other neutral or alliance free countries such as Malta, Serbia, or Moldova. Together with NATO, Austria furthermore implements a number of jointly defined partnership-goals in the military and in the political field.
NATO and its members „view Austria as an effective partner and contributor to international security, which shares key values such as the promotion of international security, democracy and human rights” (citation from the NATO homepage) and commend the contributions of its neutral partner Austria.