The Concert of Nations sanctioned the creation of Belgium in 1830 on the condition that the country remain strictly neutral.
During the two World Wars Belgium tried, but was unable, to follow a policy of neutrality. In 1948, Belgium signed the Treaty of Brussels with Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg, and one year later became one of the founding members of the Atlantic Alliance.
Belgium remains a strong proponent of NATO. It cooperates closely with the United States within the alliance framework, in addition to supporting European defense efforts through the Western European Union (WEU).
At the same time the Belgians, perceiving their diminutive role on the international scene, are strong advocates of strengthening economic and political integration within the EU. Recently, having federalized their own country, many Belgians view themselves as the ultimate "European federalists."
Both NATO (since 1966) and the EU have their headquarters in Brussels; SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe) is in the south of the country, near Mons. Since January 1993, the WEU has been headquartered in Brussels.
Because of its location at the crossroads of Western Europe, Belgium has historically been the route of invading armies from its larger neighbors. With virtually defenseless borders, Belgium has traditionally sought to avoid domination by the more powerful nations which surround it through a policy of mediation.
Belgium actively seeks improved relations with the new democracies of central and eastern Europe through such fora as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, EU association agreements, and NATO's Partnership for Peace with the former Warsaw Pact countries and several others.