28 May 2002
Wim Kok, Prime Minister of the Netherlands
Jean Monnet, one of the founding
fathers of today's European Union, said that Europe will not be
built as a complete structure, nor will it be built overnight;
it will be built in a series of concrete achievements, creating
first of all a de facto solidarity. The same goes for our common
aim of creating a transatlantic zone of peace, security and stability
spreading from Vancouver to Vladivostok. Today's inaugural session
of the NATO Russia Council is such a concrete step forward on
the path of ever growing cooperation between NATO and Russia,
which we started some ten years ago. I want to congratulate Secretary
General Robertson and his staff and the negotiators on behalf
of president Putin for their successful conclusion of this agreement.
This success has been brought about by a fundamental change in
our strategic security environment: it is no longer each other
that we fear.
Both NATO and Russia increasingly have to cope with the same
security challenges, such as terrorism, proliferation and regional
instability, and we have the same security interests. Former
adversaries have now become partners in creating democracy and
the rule of law, peace and stability in Europe. A step rightly
qualified as historic.
The Netherlands wholeheartedly welcomes the development. Seeing
the flagpoles of the 20 countries of the NATO Russia Council
standing together is symbolic for our determination to give
new substance to our cooperation. It also reminds me of the
centruries-old relations between Russia and the Netherlands.
For the Russian word "flagshtok", which is flagpole,
is a Dutch word. It dates back to our close ties in the times
of Peter the Great.
The most important challenge now is to make the NATO Russia
Council a strong and result oriented framework for practical
So let's all commit ourselves to come up with good results soon,
even before the Prague Summit.
Success feeds on itself!
Praticia di Mare, 28 mei 2002