Ladies and gentlemen,
Good morning, and welcome to this meeting of the NATO-Russia Council.
We have much to celebrate together. Next month, it will be 15 years since we signed the NATO-Russia Founding Act, and 10 years since we signed the Rome Declaration on NATO-Russia relations that established this very Council. We only need to think back over the last fifteen years to see we have come a long way and achieved a lot.
Nous pouvons être particulièrement satisfaits de notre coopération à l’objectif d’un Afghanistan fort et stable. Les premiers techniciens afghans viennent d’entamer leur formation au centre de maintenance des hélicoptères de Novossibirsk, avec un financement du Conseil OTAN Russie. Nous renforçons actuellement nos arrangements de transit. Ce mois-ci, nous allons passer le cap des 2 000 agents originaires de la région à être formés à la lutte antidrogue.
We have also made practical progress in other areas. Recently, here in Brussels, over 70 civilian and military experts from NATO countries and Russia conducted a joint exercise on how to deal with a terrorist incident on the high seas. And at the same time, at a test centre in Germany, we conducted a successful exercise on missile defence. These computer exercises were conducted in virtual reality. But they show cooperation between NATO and Russia is real, and can have tangible results.
It is well-known that we do not agree on all issues. But it is also clear that we are committed to continue discussing all issues, at all times – because the NATO-Russia Council is an all weather-forum. And it still has untapped potential.
Cooperation on missile defence could transform our relationship. And enhance security for all of us. Because we face the same threats. And it makes sense for us to cooperate in defending effectively against them.
Within NATO, we are making good progress in developing an integrated, Alliance-wide missile defence system. This system does not threaten Russia. Nor does it alter the strategic balance. So I am confident that there too, we can find a way forward, in a spirit of dialogue, trust and transparency that we have built up around this table over the last fifteen years.
And now I thank the members of the press for joining us, and I now ask that you to kindly leave the room so that we can begin our meeting.