Withdrawal from NATO

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Withdrawal from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is the legal and political process whereby a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation withdraws from the North Atlantic Treaty, and thus the country in question ceases to be a member of NATO. The formal process of doing this process is stated in article 13 of the Treaty.[1] This says that any country that wants to leave must send the United States (as the depositary) a “notice of denunciation,” which the U.S. would then pass on to the other countries in the alliance. After a one-year waiting period, the country that wants to leave would be out.

As of 2019, no member state has rescinded their membership, although it has been mentioned by a few countries. Notwithstanding, two former dependencies of one NATO member have never applied for membership subsequent to their becoming independent states.


Article XIII of the North Atlantic Treaty, is the article that member state use on informing other members or parties that it wishes to leave the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. It states the following:

After the Treaty has been in force for twenty years, any Party may cease to be a Party one year after its notice of denunciation has been given to the Government of the United States of America, which will inform the Governments of the other Parties of the deposit of each notice of denunciation.

This means that after 20 years since the signing of the treaty which was in 1949, thus 1969, any member state that wishes to leave just has to inform United States that it wants to leave, and then after a year it formally leaves.

Contemplated withdrawals


In 1966 due to souring relations between Washington and Paris over the in the refusal to integrate France's nuclear deterrent with other North Atlantic powers, or accept any collective form of control over its armed forces let to the president Charles de Gaulle to downgrade France's membership of NATO and withdrew France from the U.S.-led military command, to pursue an independent defence system.[2] However, the twenty-year rule prevented France from completely leaving NATO altogether.[3] One action from this withdraw, was the movement of NATO's Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe being moved from Rocquencourt, to the city of Mons in Belgium. This changed in 2009 when president Nicolas Sarkozy changed course and returned France to full participation, and the French Parliament backed this decision with a vote of confidence.[4]

Currently, of the noted political parties in France; the far-right, National Rally and the Popular Republican Union,[5] together with the far-left La France Insoumise and the French Communist Party advocates French withdraw from NATO. While the right-wing Gaullist Debout la France advocates reversing the 2009 decision for France returning to NATO command.[6] In a 2017 polling about favorability of NATO, 60% of French people have a favourable viewpoint, compared to 34% who have an unfavourable viewpoint.[7]


In 1964 due to the Cyprus crisis, Greece withdraw military units from NATO forces in the Southern Mediterranean, over threats of invasion of Cyprus by fellow NATO member Turkey.[8] Later in 1974 due to invasion of Cyprus by Turkish forces, Greece withdrew from NATO military command. Notwithstanding, the country did not withdrew entirely from the organisation, but sitting out on the sides.[9]

In 1980, the Greek foreign minister Konstantinos Mitsotakis made remarks about the situation where he could see Greece fully withdrawing from the organisation. However, later together with diplomatic pressure from the United States, led to Greece fully re-integrating with the alliance.[10]


Iceland is unique among NATO members that it does not have a standing army, and its defence forces consists of a militarise coastguard and a paramilitary peacekeeping force. Together with a strong pacifist history, there has been considerable opposition to NATO membership in Iceland. Nevertheless, the country is host to a notable United States Navy base at Keflavík airport, near the country's capital Reykjavík. Plus, its location in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean makes a strategic point for intelligence and signals information.[11]

The country's main nonpartisan pressure group for Iceland leaving NATO is Samtök hernaðarandstæðinga, which is a branch of War Resisters' International.

In 2019 while during a visit by the Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg to Iceland, the prime minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir spoke that she support withdrawing Iceland from NATO. Her party, the Left-Green Movement who is the senior partner of the Icelandic government supports withdrawing, however there isn't a majority in the Icelandic parliament for withdrawing.[12]


Since the 2016 attempted coup d'état and warming relations between Turkey and Russia, there has been calls for Turkey to leave or be thrown out of NATO.[13][14][15]

United Kingdom

Membership of NATO is considered a non-debatable subject within the whole United Kingdom's defence and foreign policy framework. Membership is supported by the major parties in the UK, including the Conservatives,[16] Labour [17] and the Liberal Democrats.[18] Of the UK-wide parties in the House of Commons, only the Green Party is against NATO membership.[19] Support for NATO is high in the United Kingdom with a poll in 2017 indicating that 62% of British people have a favourable view of NATO, compared with only 16% having unfavourable view of the Alliance.[20]

The situation with whether an independent Scotland should join NATO if it ever achieves independence, has been fraught within supporters of an independent Scotland. Originally the Scottish National Party was against NATO membership, much of this was due to the party's non-nuclear stance with Scotland hosting the Trident nuclear programme at the Clyde Naval Base. This changed in 2012, when the SNP under the leadership of Alex Salmond changed its manifesto saying that it would support NATO membership and would join NATO if it ever becomes independent, provided it respect Scotland's non-nuclear stance.[21] This led to some senior members of the SNP to leave the party, including John Finnie and Jean Urquhart.[22] Other independence parties including the Scottish Socialist Party [23] and the Scottish Green Party [24] don't support Scotland's membership and would not join if Scotland becomes independent.

Among the parties in Northern Ireland, NATO policy tends to follow along the unionist-nationalist axis using the basis on the UK's membership and Ireland's neutrality. All the main parties that support Northern Ireland being part of the United Kingdom including the Ulster Unionists [25] and the Democratic Unionist [26] parties, support NATO membership. While the parties that advocate unification of Northern Ireland with the Republic of Ireland including SDLP and Sinn Féin, support Irish neutrality. Among the non-sectarian parties which are parties are neither unionist or nationalist, both the Alliance Party and the Green Party of Northern Ireland are ambiguous in it viewpoint.

United States of America

Donald Trump expressed interest in withdrawing from the organisation during his 2016 presidential campaign, however after he was elected in 2017, he later stated the United States would protect allies in the event that Article V is invoked.[27][28][29] Nevertheless, the New York Times reported in 2019 that a year earlier, he had already mentioned several times privately that he wanted the United States to leave NATO.[30] Such concerns led the House of Representatives in January 2019, to pass the NATO Support Act (H.R. 676), confirming Congress' support for NATO and prohibiting funds being used for withdrawing from NATO.[31]

Polling conducted by Pew Research Center in 2017, said that 62% of Americans are favourable to NATO. compared to 23% who are not favourable. In terms of voters, over three-quarters of Democrats are favourable with just 48% of Republicans favourable. Also they said that a plurality of those surveyed, 47% said NATO does too little globally.[7] In further polling in 2019 on the eve of NATO's 70th birthday, 77% of Americans say being a member of NATO is good for the United States.[32]

While both major parties support NATO membership,[33] all the major third parties including the Green Party,[34] the Libertarian Party,[35] and the Constitution Party[36] support withdrawing the United States from NATO.

States formerly part of NATO as dependencies


On the time of the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty in 1949, the Mediterranean island of Malta was a dependent territory in a form of a self-governing crown colony of the United Kingdom. Dependent territories like Malta had their international memberships of their mother country, so the island was part of NATO. In fact, the headquarters of the Allied Forces Mediterranean was based in the town of Floriana between 1952 and 1965.

When Malta gained independence in 1964, the country did not apply to join NATO, due to the relations between NATO and the prime minister George Borg Olivier at the time, but nevertheless supported the alliance.[37] This changed in 1971, when the Labour’s Dom Mintoff was elected as prime minister and stated that Malta is neutral in its foreign policy,[38] a position which was later enacted into the country's constitution in 1974. Later the country joined the Non-Aligned Movement in 1979, at the same time when the British Royal Navy left its base in Malta Dockyard.

In 1995, Malta joined NATO's Partnership for Peace defence program. However, it withdraw its membership a year later in 1996 by the newly elected Labour government. Maltese foreign policy changed notably in 2004, with the country joining the European Union and it re-joined the PfP program in 2008, pointing to a change in the island’s foreign relations.

Membership of NATO is not supported by any of the country’s political parties including current governing Labour and the opposition Nationalists. NATO's secretary-general Stoltenberg says the alliance fully respects Malta's position of neutrality, and put no pressure for the country to join the alliance.[39]


Like Malta, Cyprus was a crown colony at the time of the United Kingdom until it gained independence in 1960. As so, it was also a member of the NATO under the British crown. However the reason for Cyprus’ non-membership due to the Cyprus conflict and relations between Greece and Turkey. This reason even also extends to Cyprus' non-participation in the Partnership for Peace program.

See also


  1. ^ "The North Atlantic Treaty, Washington D.C. - 4 April 1949". NATO. 2019-06-14.
  2. ^ Cody, Edward (12 March 2009). "After 43 Years, France to Rejoin NATO as Full Member". The Washington Post.
  3. ^ "NATO - Declassified: France and NATO". NATO. Retrieved 2019-06-16.
  4. ^ "Sarkozy survives vote over Nato". BBC News. 17 March 2009.
  5. ^ Schrepf, Jerôme. "Villeneuve-sur-lot. L'UPR entre conquête et résistance", LaDépêche.fr, May 24, 2013. Retrieved on 1 October 2013
  6. ^ "Ses idées ..." Debout La France (in French). 2015-08-26. Retrieved 2019-06-14.
  7. ^ a b "Many members see NATO favorably, but almost half in US say it does too little". Pew Research Center. Retrieved 2019-06-15.
  8. ^ "Greece Withdrawing Units From NATO to Aid Cyprus". The New York Times. 1964-08-18. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  9. ^ "Greek-Turkish Relations: The Deadlocked Allies" (PDF). CIA - Directate of Intelligence. May 1982.
  10. ^ Hoagl, Jim (1980-10-01). "Greece Threatens to Cut Ties to NATO". Washington Post. Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  11. ^ "NATO - Declassified: Iceland and NATO". NATO. 2016-06-16.
  12. ^ "Iceland rift over NATO membership sidelined in Arctic security talks". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 2019-06-14.
  13. ^ "Turkey's NATO membership and move to cement ties with Russia". DailySabah. Retrieved 2019-06-14.
  14. ^ "In Opinion: Turkey should be thrown out of NATO". Newsweek. 2016-08-13. Retrieved 2019-06-14.
  15. ^ Weiss, Stanley A. (2016-02-23). "It's Time to Kick Erdogan's Turkey Out of NATO". HuffPost. Retrieved 2019-06-14.
  16. ^ Fox, Liam (11 February 2010). "The EU should only act when NATO cannot". Archived from the original on 1 April 2010. Retrieved 4 March 2010.
  17. ^ "A Global Britain". The Labour Party. Retrieved 2019-10-16.
  18. ^ "Champions of international liberalism". Liberal Democrats. 2019-08-21. Retrieved 2019-10-16.
  19. ^ "Peace & Defence". The Green Party. Retrieved 2019-10-16.
  20. ^ "Many members see NATO favorably, but almost half in US say it does too little". Pew Research Center. Retrieved 2019-10-17.
  21. ^ "SNP votes to end anti-Nato policy". 2012-10-19. Retrieved 2019-10-17.
  22. ^ "Two MSPs resign from SNP over party's NATO stance". The Guardian. 23 October 2012. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
  23. ^ SSP General Election Manifesto 2015. https://scottishsocialistparty.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/2015-SSP-Manifesto.pdf: Scottish Socialist Party. 2015. p. 20.
  24. ^ "Peace and Disarmament are still key for Greens". Scottish Greens. 2019-09-05. Retrieved 2019-10-17.
  25. ^ "Sustained investment needed to meet NATO commitments – Tom Elliott MP". Ulster Unionist. Retrieved 2019-10-17.
  26. ^ Moshinsky, Ben. "Everything you need to know about the DUP, the party supporting the new Tory government". Business Insider. Retrieved 2019-10-17.
  27. ^ "Trump threatens to quit NATO: White House official - France 24". France 24. 2017-05-18. Retrieved 2017-05-31.
  28. ^ Landler, Michael D. Shear, Mark; Kanter, James (2017-05-25). "In NATO Speech, Trump Is Vague About Mutual Defense Pledge". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-05-31.
  29. ^ Lauter, David (2017-05-26). "A glowing orb and a not-so-glowing review of the GOP healthcare bill: Trump's week was filled with events he didn't control". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-05-31.
  30. ^ Barnes, Julian E.; Cooper, Helene (2019-01-14). "Trump Discussed Pulling U.S. From NATO, Aides Say Amid New Concerns Over Russia". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-06-15.
  31. ^ Panetta, Jimmy (2019-01-23). "H.R.676 - 116th Congress (2019-2020): NATO Support Act". www.congress.gov. Retrieved 2019-06-15.
  32. ^ "Large Majorities in Both Parties Say NATO Is Good for the U.S. | Pew Research Center". 2019-04-02. Retrieved 2019-06-15.
  33. ^ "Democratic vs Republican on nato". iSideWith. Retrieved 2019-06-15.
  34. ^ Apr 09, 2019. "Greens Say 'No to NATO' While War Parties Give Standing Ovations to NATO". www.gp.org. Retrieved 2019-06-15.
  35. ^ Daugherty, Lauren (2017-08-22). "Afghanistan and NATO". Libertarian Party. Retrieved 2019-06-15.
  36. ^ "Withdrawal from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Resolution". Constitution Party. 2006-12-01. Retrieved 2019-06-15.
  37. ^ The Outlook for an Independent Malta (PDF). Library - Reading Room: Central Intelligence Agency. 1964.
  38. ^ "MALTA CONFIRMS BREAK WITH NATO". The New York Times. August 17, 1971. Retrieved September 19, 2019.
  39. ^ "Relations with Malta". NATO. October 12, 2018.

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