King Willem-Alexander will visit NATO headquarters in Brussels and the military headquarters of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) on Monday 17th December. He will be accompanied by Secretary Koenders of Foreign Affairs and the Commander of the Armed Forces, General Middendorp.
The Dutch King will begin the visit with a wreath laying at the memorial at the NATO headquarters. Afterwards he will meet with the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg and the Permanent Representatives, who have a seat in the North-Atlantic Council. At the military headquarters of SHAPE, the King will speak with the Supreme Allies Commander Europe, General Breedlove and he will tour the facilities of the Comprehensive Crisis and Operations Management Centre (CCOMC).
NATO was founded in 1949 and constitutes a system of collective defence whereby its member states agree to mutual defense in response to an attack by any external party. With the conclusion of the Cold War NATO’s duties have expanded and have begun to include missions and operations outside of the treaty area. They also work together with a growing numbers of other countries and organisations. The NATO alliance currently has 28 members with the United Kingdom and the Netherlands being two of the founding members.
The September 11th attacks in the United States invoked Article 5 of the NATO charter for the first time. The article states that an attack on any member shall be considered an attack on all. This was confirmed the following month and led to several joined operations, including NATO taking over the command of the International Security Assistance Force (or ISAF), which was initially charged with securing Kabul and the surrounding areas from the Taliban and al Qaeda.