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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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?
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.