Updated: 29-May-2002 NATO Speeches

28 May 2002


by Wim Kok, Prime Minister of the Netherlands

Jean Monnet, one of the founding fathers of today's European Union, said that Europe will not be built as a complete structure, nor will it be built overnight; it will be built in a series of concrete achievements, creating first of all a de facto solidarity. The same goes for our common aim of creating a transatlantic zone of peace, security and stability spreading from Vancouver to Vladivostok. Today's inaugural session of the NATO Russia Council is such a concrete step forward on the path of ever growing cooperation between NATO and Russia, which we started some ten years ago. I want to congratulate Secretary General Robertson and his staff and the negotiators on behalf of president Putin for their successful conclusion of this agreement.
This success has been brought about by a fundamental change in our strategic security environment: it is no longer each other that we fear.

Both NATO and Russia increasingly have to cope with the same security challenges, such as terrorism, proliferation and regional instability, and we have the same security interests. Former adversaries have now become partners in creating democracy and the rule of law, peace and stability in Europe. A step rightly qualified as historic.

The Netherlands wholeheartedly welcomes the development. Seeing the flagpoles of the 20 countries of the NATO Russia Council standing together is symbolic for our determination to give new substance to our cooperation. It also reminds me of the centruries-old relations between Russia and the Netherlands. For the Russian word "flagshtok", which is flagpole, is a Dutch word. It dates back to our close ties in the times of Peter the Great.

The most important challenge now is to make the NATO Russia Council a strong and result oriented framework for practical cooperation.
So let's all commit ourselves to come up with good results soon, even before the Prague Summit.
Success feeds on itself!

Praticia di Mare, 28 mei 2002

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