The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is an intergovernmental political and military alliance based on the North Atlantic Treaty, which was signed in April 1949. It was originally formed to combat communism however it currently consists of 28 sovereign member states that are determined to pursue main security as well as defense-political goals. NATO’s essential purpose is to safeguard the freedom and security of its members through political and military means. NATO promotes democratic values and encourages consultation and cooperation on defense and security issues to build trust and, in the long run, prevent conflict. It is committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes. If diplomatic efforts fail, it has the military capacity needed to undertake crisis-management operations. These are carried out under Article 5 of the Washington Treaty – NATO’s founding treaty – or under a UN mandate, alone or in cooperation with other countries and international organizations. A “NATO decision” is the expression of the collective will of all 28 member countries since all decisions are taken by the principle of consensus.