The author provides an analytical overview of NATO's relations with, and policies towards, its Central Asian Partners. Since 11 September 2001, pursuing deeper engagement with Central Asian governments responds to the — at times conflicting — requirements of realpolitik and of advancing core values upon which the Alliance was founded sixty years ago, and which are also enshrined in its Partnership for Peace (PfP). In analysing this tension between pragmatism and idealism, the article focuses on five main aspects. The author concludes that NATO's approach towards Central Asia reflects an ever-present/inherent tension between pursuing security imperatives, underlying interests and core values. The result is a complex and somewhat uneasy policy, which seeks to reconcile these at times contradictory elements. Hence the Alliance has pursued enhanced engagement with Central Asian Partners in the belief that through daily cooperation in key areas of NATO and/or common interest, some core democratic values would eventually be incorporated into Partners' approach towards security, the role of the military, and international co-operation, thus benefiting the long term process of democratisation.