Updated: 26-Nov-2001 NATO Speeches

23 Nov. 2001

Press Conference

with NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson and Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Igor Ivanov


Ladies and Gentlemen, at the meeting between the President of the Russian Federation and NATO Secretary General, a preliminary summing of results took place in our joint work to add a new dimension, a new quality, a new momentum to the development of our relations. The very constructive and frank discussion that has taken place enabled the parties to arrive at a common view that the Russia and NATO political dialogue could contribute to the further development of our relations and we could take a joint effort and make a major contribution to the resolution of the most urgent, the most pressing tasks of ensuring security and for the world at large in a new situation.

And we believe that a new quality of relations that is a new dimension that has been added to our relations, enable us to set up a mechanism that will ensure that our country takes part at all stages of the discussion, decision-making process, and later on implementation process.

At the same time the establishment of a new format of 20, does not mean that the old mechanism 19+1 will be dismantled. The Founding Act and the PJC that has been established on the basis of the Act, continue to be an important instrument for expanding common ground and bringing our positions closer together.

During our discussions today we prepared our positions of our most topical issues of cooperation and interaction. Questions were discussed related to the further deepening of Russia-NATO cooperation in the military area, that includes the development of a European anti-ballistic missile defence, questions like non-proliferation or rather consolidation and strenghtening of the non-proliferation regime.

We of course had a detailed discussion on joint effort to combat international terrorism; we also discussed some regional situations like the Balkans and the Caucasus. In a word, we are now at a very important, a crucial stage in the further development of our partnership, we agreed to continue this important painstaking work. On Dec 7 we will have a PJC ministerial meeting and then we will have a good opportunity to renew our discussions of these important topical issues.

Secretary General:

There are moments in history where it is right to be bold. And this is a unique moment of history when boldness could pay rich dividends for future generations. We have had a fascinating discussion with the President of Russia, and discussions with the Foreign and Defence Ministers, Chairman of the Security Council, as well as with some school children, the next generation of people as well.

So over these two days I have been engaged in exploratory discussions about how we can take the NATO-Russia relationship forward and deepen it, given the current level of cooperation against the terrorist common menace.

I emphasize that these discussions have been exploratory in character and it is premature to say or to speculate on the shape or the format of any eventual new mechanism for cooperation.

But there are some clear attractions in moving our discussion on some selected issues from the format of 19+1 to a format of 20. And in the next few weeks and with the sense of some urgency, we will be looking at the options that have been put forward and seeing how they could be made work in practice and with success. Some NATO proposals have been put forward by some NATO nations, and which have received publicity. Yesterday I received another detailed proposal from Prime Minister Berlusconi of Italy, strongly supporting the initiatives of President Bush and PM Blair.

And of course others such as Canada, have put their proposals forward and all of these options will be discussed with the other ones that are coming forward. But the key thing is the substance of our discussions is more important than the precise format or structure that we set up.

And that is why we will seek to identify areas where it would make sense to operate as 20 rather than 19 + 1. The NATO-Russia Founding Act remains the cornerstone of NATO-Russia relations but both sides strongly agree that within the spirit of the Founding Act the current circumstances offer a unique opportunity for closer cooperation and to deepen it. And Minister Ivanov has identified the other area we discussed in some detail so I won't say anymore.

Question: inaudible

Secretary General:

A: As we said, we are looking at ways in which Russia might be able to engage in certain areas at the level of 20 rather than 19+1. But if we were to make that move it would be a momentous change and therefore we have to prepare with some care but with some speed. These discussions have been purely exploratory but the result of these discussions will lead to a further debate and hopefully to action that will take place as quickly as possible.


The contacts that the President of Russia has had during the recent time with leaders of major Western nations, NATO countries and the discussions that have taken place today, convincingly bear out the fact that there is political will - both here in Russia and in NATO countries - to add a new dimension and to give a new quality to our partnership between Russia and NATO. There is a number of various specific concrete initiatives to that effect to which Secretary General has just referred. What is at issue here, what is being discussed, is not a full fledged participation or membership of NATO for Russia; rather what we are discussing is giving a new dimension, a new quality to our partnership relationship. And the discussions that Secretary General has had in Moscow were aiming at taking stock and identifying the areas for co-operation, areas that would be in our mutual interest and efforts and those talks were aimed at arriving at a new format of our relations that would be more effective and would be more in line with the demands of our time.

It is quite obvious, that our countries, Russia and NATO countries face a common threat, a common challenge and it is equally obvious that it is only through joint concerted efforts that we would be able to successfully meet those challenges and threats. And our task today is to establish proper mechanisms, proper structures that would enable us to act effectively to that end. I think, we will continue this work and Secretary General stressed we need to act effectively and speedily.

Question: (inaudible)


I think that the question should be put differently: We should not ask "What is it that Russia wants to get from NATO, what is it that NATO wants to get from Russia", rather we should ask ourselves "What is it that we want to do together, what is in our common interest and how should we co-operate most effectively in order to accomplish our objectives". And I think that the specific nature, the unique nature of the present stage in international relations leaves us to ask the question of what should we do together as partners, what tasks should we seek to accomplish and it is quite obvious that only through joint efforts that we will be able to achieve successful results and it is only through joint efforts that we will be able to strengthen a European and global security and stability.

And I think that the awareness of the historic importance of the current stage in international relations was demonstrated during recent summit meeting between the Presidents of Russia and the United States. That meeting clearly proves the importance and the crucial nature of the present stage in our countries. And our task now is to translate the awareness of the importance of this historic stage, to translate in into practical action.

Question: inaudible

Secretary General

Well, did I hear anything new from the President? Well, I heard from him a renewed commitment to act boldly and to seize the moment for maximum co-operation.

I heard President Putin saying that if this new dimension was to work, then there had to be a new attitude on both sides. He said that this was not some new backdoor method of Russia getting membership of NATO. And he had already ruled out coming through the front door anyway. But he also clearly said that this was not a method by which Russia would seek to slowdown or to, in some way, to neutralise the work that NATO does. Nor was it a way in which Russia would seek to have a veto over what NATO was doing. So President Putin sees this as an opportunity where we can move to a shared agenda and find shared ways of tackling the challenges that will face all of us. President Putin sees some attraction in the proposals put forward by Prime Minister Blair. Prime Minister Blair was once my boss, but now I have 19 bosses. These 19 bosses will want to know what I heard during these last three days and then NATO will be in a position to give a clear position at 19.

Question: The discussion is going on about NATO and Russia at 20. After your talks with Russian leadership, what is your impression, how much influence is Russia seeking over the decision-making process? How much influence is NATO prepared to give?

Secretary General:

We are exploring at the moment whether there are areas where we have common interest and where it would make sense for us therefore to act at a level of 20 rather than at a level of 19+1. That were areas were we might collectively discuss and collectively decide on some outcomes, but we have not yet reached a conclusion on that. So we are looking at where we might change existing institutions in terms of the logic of co-operation and the logic of taking joint action, involved in doing anything at the moment in Afghanistan. All that NATO is doing, is to explore ways in which the military might be able to make an offer to the United Nations, if it is so required to help with any humanitarian challenge that it might face in the future, would clearly involve Russia and the states in the neighbourhood, if it was ever to be called upon by the UN. Individual NATO countries in the US-led coalition are of course engaged in Afghanistan and dealing with the terrorist threat, which has been given support and shelter by the Taleban regime.

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