Introduction: new partners, new tasks
According to an oft-quoted aphorism of Lord Ismay, NATO's first Secretary-General, the purpose of the North Atlantic Alliance during the Cold War was “to keep the Americans in, the Russians out, and the Germans down.” In functional-institutionalist parlance, NATO as an international institution served to provide a high level of US and European military resources for the collective deterrence and defense of Western Europe against the Warsaw Pact, while making it hard for the US to defect in case of a Soviet attack and avoiding rivalries among the alliance members from resurfacing and escalating.
With the collapse of communism, the Soviet Union, and the Warsaw Pact, on the one hand, and the progress of European integration, on the other, the original purposes of NATO receded into the background. Instead, in a declaration agreed at NATO's London summit in July 1990, the alliance offered the Central and Eastern European transition countries to formally put an end to confrontation, establish permanent diplomatic relations with NATO, and base the future relationship on the principle of common security. In its Strategic Concept adopted in Rome in November 1991, NATO established a new, cooperative relationship with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe as an integral part of the Alliance strategy.
At the same time, NATO began to develop a set of new forums and frameworks to institutionalize this new relationship: NATO partnership.