the Secretary General at the Joint Point de Presse
with Ministers Ivanov and Kavan
following the NATO-Russia Meeting
Real pleasure for me, the Secretary General of NATO - together
with Igor Ivanov and Jan Kavan - to face the media, following
the meeting of NATO and Russia's Foreign Ministers. We have
a good story to tell.
I am happy to announce today that the Ministers have agreed
on the principles, rules of procedure and work programme for
a ground-breaking new body: the NATO-Russia Council. This package
is now ready for adoption by Presidents and Prime Ministers
at the NATO-Russia Summit in Rome on May 28.
The project has required much hard work and I therefore extend
our deepest thanks to the NATO and Russian negotiating teams
led by Ambassador Altenburg and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs
Why is today's decision important? Quite simply, because the
creation of the NATO-Russia Council "at 20", with
Russia sitting alongside the NATO Allies as an equal partner,
demonstrates our resolve to work together more closely than
ever before and gives us a structure where we can do so in genuine
It is impossible to overstate the importance of this recognition
that NATO and Russia must stand side by side in defence of our
common values and interests in the face of the challenges of
a new century. For a decade, we have been assembling a jigsaw
of cooperation, breaking down years of hostility and mistrust.
At Rome, we will complete that jigsaw, demonstrating the will
and putting in place the mechanisms needed to build a cooperative,
lasting and inclusive peace throughout Europe.
We expect to work together on a wide range of issues in the
following areas: the fight against terrorism, crisis management,
non-proliferation, arms control and confidence-building measures,
theatre missile defence, search and rescue at sea, military-to-military
cooperation and defence reform, civil emergencies, as well as
new threats and challenges. And this is just an initial list.
In all these areas, we want to put the stress on the search
for common approaches, common solutions and, where appropriate,
joint actions. How then will the NATO-Russia Council differ
from our existing arrangements? The most striking contrast is
the political will, on both sides, needed to work together as
equal partners "at 20". But there is also a fundamental
structural difference in the substantially improved opportunities
for joint decision-making.
This was to some extent theoretically possible under the Permanent
Joint Council. But in practice the body was essentially consultative,
a forum for prescripted exchanges of views. NATO nations were
required to co-ordinate all their positions before meeting the
By working "at 20", the NATO-Russia Council has every
chance to become an effective practical forum for building consensus
towards joint decisions "from the ground up", with
the benefit of Russian expertise and political perspectives.
This is a mode of working that even a few months ago would have
been impossible to imagine between NATO and Russia.
At the same time, nothing in this new project will violate
the autonomy of the Alliance or of the Russian Federation. The
respective collective obligations and commitments that bind
the twenty members of the NRC, including those that bind NATO
members to each other, will remain fully in force. In other
words, we will preserve our values and strengths while building
the new bilateral relationship.
A final point to anticipate your questions: will the NRC work?
The honest answer is that this will depend on the political
will of the participants. We are moving into uncharted waters.
But I am very sure about one thing: NATO wants to do serious
business with Russia. And Russia, I think, is of the same view.
Everyone involved in this initiative is fully committed to
its success. Our work today and in Rome later this month has
dramatically increased the opportunities for achieving this
success. And we are all determined to seize them.