Updated: 28-May-2002 NATO Speeches

28 May 2002


by NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson
at the NATO-Russia Summit

Good morning and welcome
Bonjour et bienvenue
Dobroy outra e dobro pashalovat

I am delighted to convene this meeting today of the Heads of State and Government of the NATO countries and Russia.

We meet here on the outskirts of Rome thanks to the generous invitation of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and the Italian people, to whom we are most grateful.

Over the centuries Rome has inspired so much in the world's culture and democracy. It is therefore fitting and appropriate that the "eternal city" hosts this most important event.

The opening of this meeting begins a completely new chapter in Euro-Atlantic relations.

Even today's table plan is a remarkable reversal of contemporary history.

The leaders of twenty of the world's most powerful nations assembled, not to carve up the world, but to unite it.

Twenty nations stretching from Vancouver to Vladivostock around one table addressing issues where common interests call for common solutions.

We, meeting here today, are a living contradiction of the forces which divided and weakened a continent for two generations. For everyone who despaired during the frozen stretches of the Cold War, this gathering represents a hope of a better, saner future.

As a result there will be high expectations of all.

Expectations that this will not be just another glitzy protocol event, but a real breakthrough.

Expectations that the new NATO-Russia Council will not just talk but will act, not just analyse but prescribe, not just deliberate but take decisive action.

We have a profound obligation to ensure that these expectations are not disappointed.

And if we need a reminder of why, then there is a simple answer. There is a common enemy out there.

The man and woman in the street, be it Petrovka Street or 66th Street, knows it, feels it and they expect us to address it.

11 September 2001 brought death to thousands of people in one act of terrible, criminal violence.

But it also brought a message to the leaders of the democratic world.

Find solutions and find them together.

Five years ago NATO and Russia signed the Founding Act and created the Permanent Joint Council.

It was enough then - it is simply not enough now.

That is why we are here as a new NATO-Russia Council. It is why we have created a new mechanism to facilitate the search for common ground and common understanding to meet common challenges and stop that common enemy.

We need a new qualitatively better relationship - and we need a new mindset to make it happen.

With that thought in mind, may I now ask you to adopt the Declaration submitted to you by your Foreign Ministers after their meeting in Reykjavik, entitled "NATO-Russia Relations: A New Quality". You also have in front of you a draft decision sheet. In approving it you are also deciding that:

  • The Declaration takes effect upon the date of its signature.
  • The members of the Council will take the proper steps to ensure its implementation in accordance with their procedures.
  • The Declaration is established in two originals in the French, English and Russian language.
  • And that in my capacity as Chairman of the NATO-Russia Council, I will provide the Secretary General of the United Nations and the Secretary General of the OSCE with the text of this Declaration with the request to circulate it to all members of their Organisations.

Is that agreed?

The Rome Declaration and the decision sheet are hereby adopted. Thank you. The Declaration will be signed at the end of the meeting and published this afternoon.

In making this decision you have formally brought into existence the NATO-Russia Council - where all members round this table will work together as equal partners.

I am very conscious of the responsibility I take on as the first Chairman of this NATO-Russia Council.

I promise to you, and to those who watch us outside, my full commitment to make this new Council work, and work well.

But the success or failure of this Council will not be determined by me, but by you - the leaders of the NATO countries and of Russia.

So, I ask you tell your people to work together in the logic of common interests and if they do, and only if they do, the NATO-Russia Council will work and fulfil the reasonable expectations of those who trust us with their security and safety.

I now have the pleasure to offer the floor to our host, Prime Minister Berlusconi of Italy.

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