For the first time, Turkey requested the use of Article 4 of the North Atlantic Treaty. In the more than seventy-year history of the North Atlantic Alliance, these provisions have been invoked six times. Poland applied for the implementation of the article in March 2014 in connection with the growing tension as a result of the Russian aggression against Ukraine. Now Warsaw is considering referring to the article on the crisis on the border with Belarus.
Pursuant to Article 4 of NATO’s founding treaty, member states may draw the attention of the North Atlantic Council (NATO’s main political decision-making body) to a problematic situation and discuss it with their allies. “The parties will consult together whenever – in the opinion of either of them – the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the Parties are threatened” – reads the article.
Any Member State may formally refer to this article. The threat situation is then discussed and may (but does not have to) trigger a decision or a joint action by the North Atlantic Alliance countries in response to the problem raised. “Consultation strengthens NATO’s political dimension by giving member states the opportunity to express their views and present official positions. It also gives NATO an active role in preventive diplomacy by providing measures to help avoid armed conflict,” the North Atlantic Alliance said on its website.
Countries that cited article 4
Turkey was the most frequently cited article 4. In 2003, because of the threat to its citizens resulting from the conflict in neighboring Iraq. She got approval. The Alliance then agreed on a defense package and carried out Operation Display Deterrence between February and May 2003.
Twice in 2012, Turkey requested a Council meeting in line with the provisions of Article 4. First after the shooting down of Turkish fighters by the Syrian Air Force and the death of five Turkish citizens who died from injuries sustained by Syrian missiles. In November 2012, in the wake of these events, Turkey asked for the deployment of the Patriot missile defense system. The Council agreed on this safeguard measure to help Turkey defend its citizens and territory and to de-escalate the crisis at the Syrian border.
In February 2020, Ankara requested the consideration of the implementation of Article 4 in connection with the events in Syria that killed Turkish soldiers. Earlier, in July 2015, Turkey submitted the same request in connection with an emergency caused by terrorist attacks and to inform the Alliance of the security measures taken.
The second country to ever invoke Article 4 in NATO’s history was Poland. On March 3, 2014, Warsaw applied for the implementation of the article in connection with the growing tension as a result of the Russian aggression against Ukraine.
In connection with the crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced on Sunday in an interview with the Polish Press Agency that, together with the prime ministers of Lithuania and Latvia, they are considering launch of Article 4 of the North Atlantic Treaty.
Main photo source: Twitter / MON_GOV_PL