NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson
at the opening of the NATO Information
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me first of all thank our Ally
Belgium for the invaluable support
it has provided for this project.
Without the generosity of Belgium,
all this would not have been possible.
I also would like to acknowledge the
constructive approach by the Russian
Government in our negotiations on
the letter of exchange establishing
this office. Deputy Foreign Minister
Gusarov, who is with us tonight, had
a major part in this.
Russians are widely admired for
their ability to think dialectically.
So perhaps it is a special variant
of dialectics that we are opening
an office today that will immediately
shut down again for renovation!
In a way, however, this is fitting.
Because NATO-Russia relations, too,
resemble a construction site. The
foundations are in place -- the NATO-Russia
Founding Act, the Permanent Joint
Council, and solid cooperation in
the Balkans. But in order to turn
it into a relationship that corresponds
to the strategic importance of Russia
and NATO, much more work is still
required. In particular, we must cut
through the maze of the outdated stereotypes
-- stereotypes that refuse to wither
away, stereotypes that keep us stranded
on the shores of a distant past. These
stereotypes come to the fore whenever
our interests or perceptions diverge,
and they have prevented us from achieving
the trustful and confident relationship
that would befit NATO, Russia and
indeed European security at large.
But this is going to change. This
Information Office will play a very
meaningful role in the process of
overcoming those stereotypes that
still keep us apart. It will enable
non-governmental organisations, academic
institutions, and all interested individual
Russian citizens to obtain first-hand
information about the new NATO, and
about NATO-Russia cooperation.
Nowhere are there more misperceptions
about NATO than in Russia. But it
is equally true that nowhere are people
more literate and more hungry for
new information than here in Russia.
So I believe that the NATO Information
Office will have a major task to fulfill.
I'm sure that we will find that many
Russians are quite receptive to the
information we present.
Let me be clear: Our mission is
to ensure that people in Russia have
the facts about NATO. We want people
in Russia to know more about the way
NATO functions, and why the NATO countries
take the decisions they take. You
all know Tyutchev's famous phrase
that "Russia is not to be understood
by the mind alone ...". Well,
I guess the same could be said about
NATO: If you want to know why 19 different
nations from two continents -- nations
big and small -- work so closely and
confidently together, you must read
about it. To get an accurate picture
of the Alliance, you must have the
Ladies and Gentlemen,
More then ten years after the end
of the Cold War, at the start of the
21st century, the NATO-Russia relationship
must evolve into a true strategic
partnership. The NATO Information
Office represents one pioneering step
along this road. The Office may not
yet be fully functioning in technical
terms as of today - and this may still
take some weeks - but this does not
detract from its tremendous political
significance. It marks a fresh start
in NATO-Russia relations.
Clearly, a small Information Office
is not going to transform NATO-Russian
relations overnight. But in the broader
context of deepening NATO-Russia ties,
it will play its full part to turn
former adversaries into real partners
-- and even friends.
I wish the Office and its Staff