Updated: 14-May-2002 NATO Speeches

15 Dec. 2000

Opening Statement

by NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson
at the meeting of the Permanent Joint Council (PJC)

Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have the privilege to open the sixth meeting of the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council in Ministerial session, and I welcome, in particular, our Russian colleague, Minister Ivanov, who made an extra effort to be here today.

NATO and Russia have come a long, albeit not always easy way since the signing of the NATO-Russia Founding Act in Paris. The central message of this document is as relevant as ever: NATO and Russia have much to contribute to security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area by working together. The Permanent Joint Council is an expression of this fundamental truth. It is one of the most important new institutional arrangements that have emerged in the aftermath of the Cold War, and a very promising one indeed.

Twelve months ago, we were focusing on Kosovo only. Today we can look back to substantial progress in broadening the cooperation that we have jointly achieved over the past months.

Our May meeting in Florence provided a strong impetus to this process. Since then, we have been witnessing significant and encouraging progress in a number of areas:

  • The PJC dealt with topics of direct interest to NATO and Russia: strategy and doctrine, arms control, proliferation, military infrastructure, nuclear weapons issues, search and rescue at sea, and, of course, Kosovo, to name but a few examples.
  • Exchanges of military representatives under the auspices of the PJC have become more constructive and liaison at SHAPE has improved significantly.
  • The PJC Peacekeeping Working Group finally got down to business and we had a number of useful ad hoc expert meetings on a variety of topics.
  • Our respective staffs carry forward issues such as the retraining of discharged military personnel, civil emergency planning or scientific cooperation.
  • We will exchange letters today on the establishment of a NATO Information Office in Moscow. I also welcome the steps taken by PJC Defence Ministers on 5 December to resume negotiations on a NATO Military Liaison Mission in Moscow.
  • Last but not least, Russia has resumed her participation in the EAPC.

The pivotal role NATO and Russia can play in creating and sustaining European stability has become particularly evident in our cooperation with regard to the former Yugoslavia. In reviewing developments in Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina, we can build on the considerable common ground we have achieved through the excellent cooperation of the NATO and Russian contingents in theatre, substantive liaison at SHAPE, and the useful exchanges we have held at Ministerial and Ambassadorial level. Clearly, there is no room for complacency. But our constructive cooperation should provide a solid basis for further enhancing our common efforts in support of peace and stability in the region. These NATO-Russia endeavours will remain of utmost importance.

On the whole, the NATO-Russia dialogue and cooperation is heading in the right direction. Yet, there are still some situations in which we experience a lack of trust and understanding. And some areas of cooperation envisaged in the Founding Act remain untapped.

I believe we can and should do more to achieve the central objective of the Permanent Joint Council: to build increasing levels of trust. To meet this goal, both NATO and Russia will have to go the extra mile to develop a more genuine and dependable partnership. Only this will lead to a level of cooperation commensurate with the challenges ahead.

Today is a good opportunity to make another step in this direction. I am confident that we will be able to reinforce the positive momentum achieved over the past months during this meeting.

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