NATO-Russia Council foreign ministers meet in Corfu
The first meeting of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) at ministerial level for over a year took place on the Greek island of Corfu on 27 June 2009. NRC foreign ministers were joined by the Greek Prime Minister Konstantínos Karamanlís and by the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
Ministers reviewed the current state of relations and discussed the way forward for the NRC. They agreed that the Corfu meeting marks the beginning of the return to high-level political consultations suspended after the dramatic events of August 2008. Ministers also decided to give a green light for restarting military cooperation in the framework of the NRC.
As NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said after the meeting:”The NRC which has been in the neutral stand for almost a year, is now back in gear.”
Describing the spirit of the meeting as open and constructive, he added that: “No one tried to paper over our differences in the meeting, on Georgia, for example. But we agreed […] not to let those disagreements bring the whole NRC train to a halt.”
It was the last ministerial meeting of the NRC to be chaired by Mr de Hoop Scheffer, before he leaves office at the end of July. He took the opportunity to emphasize the need for “stronger political commitment from the foreign ministers for the functioning of the NATO-Russia Council.”
Taking the NRC forward
Over the past few months, NRC members have been looking closely at the state of their relations and at future perspectives.
They agree on the strategic importance of the NRC for promoting security in the Euro-Atlantic area.
They have also identified common security interests, such as the stabilization of Afghanistan, arms control, the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, crisis management, counter-terrorism, counter-narcotics, and counter-piracy.
NRC members are in the process of examining the current institutional structure of the Council with a view to making it a more efficient and valuable instrument for political dialogue and practical cooperation.