The organization’s charter states that the signatories will “seek to promote stability and prosperity in the North Atlantic region” and “combine their efforts for collective defense and the preservation of peace and security.”
April 4, 1949 – Created when 12 nations signed the North Atlantic Treaty at a ceremony in Washington, DC.
30 member countries
Czech Republic (1999)
Germany (1955, as West Germany)
North Macedonia (2020)
United Kingdom (1949)
April 4, 1949 – 12 countries of Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States sign the North Atlantic Treaty in Washington, DC.
July 25, 1950 – The first meeting of the deputies of the NATO Council in London. US Ambassador Charles M. Spofford elected permanent chairman.
December 19, 1950 – General Dwight Eisenhower appointed as the first Supreme Allied Commander.
April 2, 1951 – Allied Command Europe becomes operational with the headquarters of the Allied Powers Europe at Roquencourt, near Paris.
March 12, 1952 – Lord Ismay has been appointed NATO’s first Secretary General and has been appointed Vice-Chairman of the North Atlantic Council.
April 10, 1952 – Allied Command Atlantic begins operations headquartered in Norfolk, Virginia.
April 16, 1952 – NATO establishes its temporary headquarters in Paris at the Palais de Chaillot.
April 28, 1952 – First meeting of the North Atlantic Council in permanent session in Paris.
May 6, 1952 – West Germany joins NATO.
May 14, 1955 – The Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc countries form the Warsaw Pact in response to West Germany’s entry into NATO.
October 22-23, 1963 – NATO and the United States are showing the size and speed of the emergency response force, with 14,500 US troops deployed to West Germany for maneuvers.
March 10, 1966 – France officially declares its intention to withdraw from the military structure of NATO, accusing the United States of too much influence in the organization.
March 31, 1967 – The opening ceremony of the new NATO headquarters in Casteau, near Mons, Belgium.
August 14, 1974 – Greece, outraged by NATO’s reaction to the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, withdraws from NATO’s military arm.
October 20, 1980 – Greece returns to the military structure of NATO.
May 30, 1982 – Spain joins NATO.
November 9, 1989 – The Berlin Wall is crumbling.
October 3, 1990 – The unification of Germany after 45 years. With the reunification of Germany, East Germany withdraws from the Warsaw Pact and joins NATO.
December 13, 1991 – For the first time, the Soviet Union takes part in NATO meetings as part of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council.
December 21, 1991 – Eleven republics of the former Soviet Union form the new Commonwealth of Independent States.
February 28, 1994 – NATO forces shot down four Bosnian Serb aircraft violating a UN no-fly zone. NATO used force for the first time.
November 21, 1995 – After the Dayton Peace Accords, the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina ends.
January 13, 1996 – Russian troops are deployed to support the SAF in Bosnia.
March 24, 1999 – NATO launches airstrikes on Yugoslavia to end Serbian aggression in the Kosovo region.
April 4, 1999 – 50 years since the founding of NATO.
August 22, 2001 – Operation Essential Harvest begins to disarm ethnic Albanians in Macedonia.
May 14, 2002 – Last meeting of the Russia-NATO Permanent Joint Council
May 28, 2002 – NATO and Russia form the NATO-Russia Council (NRC), which makes Russia an associate member of the organization. The NRC replaces the PCA, which was created in 1997 by the Russia-NATO Founding Act.
November 21-22, 2002 – During the Prague summit, NATO invites seven former Eastern Bloc countries, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, to discuss membership.
January 22, 2003 – France and Germany are blocking discussions on preparations for war presented by the United States. The US proposal included provisions for the defense of Turkey, the use of NATO equipment, and NATO’s post-war role in Iraq.
January 23, 2003 – General Secretary Lord Robertson announces his intention to retire in December.
February 10, 2003 – France, Germany and Belgium are blocking a US request that NATO provide Turkey with Patriot missiles, Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft and other equipment. The United States made the request, expecting Iraq to retaliate against Turkey in the event of a war. Turkey invokes Article IV of NATO’s charter, which requires the organization as a whole to discuss threats to the security of any member state.
February 11, 2003 – A meeting to discuss the confrontation over Turkey’s preparation for defense ends after 20 minutes to no avail.
– Deployment of NATO AWACS aircraft;
– NATO support for the deployment of Turkey’s missile defense;
– NATO support for the possible deployment of allied chemical and biological defenses.
February 19, 2003 – NATO provides defensive assistance to Turkey in the form of missiles, chemical and biological defense mechanisms and aircraft in case the war with Iraq continues.
January 5, 2004 – Jaap de Hoop Scheffer from the Netherlands becomes the new general secretary.
March 29, 2004 – NATO expands from 19 to 26 members as seven countries, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, join the accession ceremony in Washington DC. All of them are former communist states of Eastern Europe.
April 2, 2004 – First meeting of the NATO-Russia Council with 27 members.
August 10, 2004 – NATO AWACS begin patrolling Greek airspace ahead of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. NATO’s presence at the Olympics has been nicknamed “The Outstanding Games” and includes AWACS and the Multinational Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Task Force.
April 2-4, 2008 – NATO leaders hold a summit in Bucharest, Romania. Croatia and Albania are invited to join the alliance.
April 3-4, 2009 – The 23rd NATO Summit also marks the 60th anniversary of NATO. The events take place in Strasbourg, France and Kehl, Germany. During the summit, France joins NATO’s military command.
August 1, 2009 – Former Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen has taken over as NATO’s 12th Secretary General.
March 29, 2011 – The Council of Europe controls NATO, among other things, responsible for 63 deaths of the 72 African immigrants left to fend for themselves over the course of two weeks while trying to reach European shores from Libya in March 2011.