''Russia and NATO: so much to gain''

Speech by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the Kuznetsov Naval Academy in St. Petersburg

  • 05 Jul. 2011 -
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  • Last updated: 05 Jul. 2011 10:06

Admiral Rimashevskiy,
Ambassador Rogozin,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

This is my first visit to St Petersburg as NATO Secretary General. Actually I’ve been here before in my previous capacity as Prime Minister of Denmark. But this is my first visit as Secretary General of NATO. And I am very delighted to be here.

St Petersburg is well-known for its magnificent architecture. For having provided a home and inspiration to some of the worlds greatest authors – Pushkin, Dostoevski, and Nabokov. And, of course, for the excellence of the graduates from its Naval Academy, and from its Academy of Military Engineering.

It is also known for being Russia’s trade gateway to Europe, and to the rest of the world. And this economic interdependence with other nations underlines the importance of what I want to talk about this morning. Cooperation. Economic cooperation. And also security cooperation.

I want to focus my remarks today on three issues. I discussed these issues yesterday, in Sochi, with your president, President Medvedev.

First – Why Russia and NATO need to cooperate.

Second – What foundations we already have for our partnership.

And third – How we can move our partnership forward.

So first, why do we need to work together?

My answer is simple. Because we have not only a clear economic interest, but also a strong security interest. And because our economic well-being and our security and stability are increasingly interlinked.

If we trade with each other, and invest in each other’s economies, then we create jobs, we create prosperity, and a better livelihood. And furthermore, we strengthen personal and professional bonds. We develop trust. And we build confidence.

But for investors to invest, for businesses to do business, and for knowledge and technology to transfer, there must also be a climate of security. Of stability. And of safety. Trade and security are interlinked. They go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other.

Over the past two decades, Russia and NATO’s economies have become increasingly interdependent. Today, almost half of Russia’s total exports go to NATO’s 28 member countries. And again almost half of Russia’s imports come from NATO member countries.

At the same time, NATO countries now make more than 30 per cent of all Foreign Direct Investments in Russia. And almost 40 per cent of Russia’s Foreign Direct Investments are made in NATO member countries.

Russia’s economic interdependence with the rest of Europe is particularly striking. Russia has rapidly become the European Unions’s third largest trade partner, after the United States and China. Your country is the European Union’s biggest supplier of natural gas. And it is the second largest supplier of crude oil and oil products.

Looking ahead, we need to increase trade. And we must increase investment. Because this will help to keep our economies competitive. It will help to modernise our economies. And it will help to tackle a range of complex challenges that all our nations face.

Just like in many European countries, Russia’s population is not only aging, but also declining. Health care and pension costs are rising in all our countries. And we all need to invest in education, in infrastructure, and in research and development.

Whether we are producers of oil and gas, or consumers, we all have a stake in stable supply and demand. And we owe it to future generations to demonstrate that higher economic growth can go together with lower carbon emissions.

And taken together, all these challenges represent a complex economic agenda, for all our nations. By building closer trade links, and enhancing investment, we can create greater trust and transparency between us. And we can give ourselves a much better chance of facing the future with confidence.

And that clear logic also applies to our security. Terrorism, for example, is a continuing, common threat that concerns all our nations. Terrorists continue to recruit and spread their poisonous propaganda. They are becoming more sophisticated. They are adapting their tactics. They continue to pose a threat to our critical infrastructure, and to our transport systems.

Like several NATO nations, Russia has suffered terrible terrorist attacks at the very heart of its cities. Many were callously killed as they were going about their everyday business. At Domodedovo airport a few months ago. In the Moscow metro last year.

I extend my sympathy to all those who have suffered at the hands of extremists. Here in Russia. And elsewhere. We need to do everything we can to make sure that more of our families don’t suffer. That’s why we must remain vigilant. And it’s why NATO and Russia must continue to fight this evil together.

But the list of common threats does not end with terrorism. Many nations across the world are determined to acquire or to spread weapons of mass destruction. Fragile states breed extremism and trans-national crime, such as trafficking in arms, narcotics and people. Pirates are able to capture super tankers with not much more than a fast rubber boat and a gun.

Not one of our nations is exempted from those menaces. Not one of our nations can escape from these threats. And not one of our nations can tackle them alone.

The best way to meet these challenges is through the broadest possible international cooperation. In fact, that’s the only way. And as two of the world’s most influential security actors, Russia and NATO have a vital stake in that cooperation. We also have a major responsibility for driving it forward. And we have a solid record on which to build.

And this brings me to the second issue that I wish to highlight. Our firm foundation for cooperation. A foundation that is both political, and practical.

Politically, we have a strong and binding set of principles which underpin our relationship.

When NATO and Russia signed the Founding Act in Paris, in 1997, we all agreed to build together a lasting and inclusive peace in the Euro-Atlantic area, based on the principles of democracy and cooperative security.

We agreed that we do not consider each other as adversaries.

We agreed that we will refrain from the threat or use of force against each other, as well as against any other state.

We agreed that we will respect the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all states.

And we agreed that the security of all states in the Euro-Atlantic community is indivisible.

These political principles were taken a significant step further when we created the NATO-Russia Council in 2002. This Council has proved a very valuable forum for political dialogue.

In 2009, we agreed a joint assessment of threats to our security, called the “Joint Review of Twenty-first Century Common Security Challenges”. This common project has also enhanced our ability to work together on very practical issues.

And let me give you some examples.

Take Afghanistan. Russia has its own, difficult history with that country. But just like the NATO Allies, Russia understands that it has an enormous interest in a stable Afghanistan. And it has been increasingly prepared to work with NATO and its other partners to help create a country that is no longer a sanctuary for terrorists.

Take counter-narcotics. Russia and NATO want to stop heroin from flooding into our countries. And so we have been working together to provide counter-narcotics training in Afghanistan and Central Asia.

Then there’s counter-terrorism. Together we are implementing a wide range of measures to fight this menace. And to manage the consequences of terrorist attacks. At sea, in the air, and on land.

NATO and Russian ships have conducted anti-terrorist maritime patrols in the Mediterranean.

Just last month, NATO and Russian fighter aircraft held their first ever joint exercise over Poland and the Black Sea. To counter terrorist threats to civilian aviation.

And next year, in Paris, and then here in Saint Petersburg, we will test a system that we have developed together to protect stations and airports from explosive devices and suicide bombers. To stop the type of attack that struck Domodedovo airport earlier this year.

Many graduates from this academy have been conducting counter-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia and the Horn of Africa. And they have been doing this in close cooperation with NATO ships.

And finally, there’s something in which I am sure many of you will have a strong personal interest. Search and rescue at sea. Last month NATO and Russian ships and submarines practised underwater rescue techniques off the coast of Spain.

And all these examples are major achievements. They have brought all our nations clear security benefits. And they provide a firm political and practical foundation for us to do more.

So that leads me to the third part of my remarks. How do we move our partnership forward?

And I can answer that in two words. Missile defence. By cooperating on missile defence, NATO and Russia can move forward their partnership faster, and further, than ever before.

Today, over 30 states already have, or are developing, missile technology. These missiles can be fitted with conventional warheads, or with weapons of mass destruction. Accuracy is increasing. Payload is increasing. And range is increasing.

Some of these missiles can already reach parts of NATO territory. The threat is real. And our defence must be real. We need to protect our populations. Our territory. And our forces. That is why we have taken a decision to build an Allied system. Work has already started. And our goal is to have an interim capability by the middle of next year.

But Russia, too, faces a missile threat. Russian citizens, Russian territory, Russian forces, and Russian interests are also at risk. And as we share the same threat, it makes sense for us to cooperate in defending against it. It makes sense politically. It makes sense practically. And it makes sense militarily.

Politically, it registers re-assurance.

Practically, it creates confidence.

And militarily, it enhances effectiveness.

But what does cooperation on missile defence mean in practice? It means synergy between two systems. A NATO one and a Russian one. And Russia has put forward some stimulating ideas for how we could achieve this.

For example, we could consider a joint centre where we look at the missile threat together. Where we share early warning data. And where we exchange information and share assessments.

We could also consider a joint centre where we coordinate our responses. This would ensure we could each select the best and most appropriate response.

I believe these suggestions are promising. And I believe now is the time to take the next steps. We must start building the cooperation we need.

Russia has said it needs guarantees that the NATO missile defence is not threatening Russia. Let me assure you. We are not threatening Russia. Our missile defence is defensive in nature. It is to protect against attacks on our populations and territories. And we do not expect Russia to attack NATO Allies.

In fact, we have already agreed in the NATO-Russia Founding Act that we will refrain from the threat or use of force against each other.

So, we have already issued a mutual guarantee. But the very best guarantee for Russia comes from being part of the process. From being fully involved. And from being connected to the system.

A cooperative approach is the only reasonable way forward. It will enhance transparency. It will create greater trust and confidence. It will improve security.

Unfortunately, I have seen public pronouncements that Russia might consider spending billions of roubles on a new offensive system to target the West. Let me put it bluntly:

This type of statement is unnecessary. Because Russia is not threatened from the West.

This type of investment is a waste of money. Because the money is better spent on economic development, on modernisation, and on job creation.

And this type of thinking needs to be consigned to the past. Because today, we stand at the dawn of a new era.

Through missile defence cooperation, we have a unique opportunity to really move our partnership forward. It can create a virtuous cycle. It can radically change the way we look at each other. And it can help us build enduring stability and security between our own nations. And across the whole Euro-Atlantic area.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

At this time of the year, St Petersburg is a city that hardly sleeps. It’s a city that takes every opportunity to enjoy the long bright days.

By working together, NATO and Russia have the opportunity to build a future of bright days too.

A future built on cooperation, and a true strategic partnership.

A future where we build security not against each other – but with each other.

A future where together, we protect our freedom, our democracy, and human rights.

A future of peace, security, and stability in the whole Euro-Atlantic area.

That is the opportunity on offer. Let us grasp it. Together.

Thank you very much.