Updated: 10-Dec-2002 NATO Speeches

press agency

9 Dec 2002

Questions and Answers

with NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson

Lord Robertson (Secretary General, NATO): I'm very pleased to be here. This is almost a normal and routine visit which shows you how far NATO-Russia relations have come in such a very short time.

Three years ago when I became the Secretary General of NATO I said that one of my key priorities was to resume normal relations between NATO and Russia. And since this followed on the Kosovo conflict, many people thought that I was being too ambitious or that I was setting my stakes too high.

And three short years later, not only have we resumed relations with Russia, we have a new relationship. And I come here as the chairman of the NATO-Russia Council, one of the most important organizations in the world today. And I now chair a council where the Russian Federation sits as an equal partner around a table of 20 seated between Portugal and Spain because of the alphabet and with me as the chairman.

So I come here with a unique and special responsibility for guiding this new council into the areas of work where it is presently deeply engaged.

Q: Mr. Secretary General, what's the view of co-operation between Russia and NATO in view of combating the terrorism and beating(?) terrorism? And what new steps do you think that (inaudible) can take in that area?

Lord Robertson: The work on terrorism is at the very heart of the work that NATO and Russia are doing together. In many ways, Osama bin Laden was the midwife of an incredible new rapprochement. So I don't think that in his wildest dreams this fanatical criminal would have thought that he would have ended forever the Cold War and brought NATO and Russia so closely together.

So NATO and Russia are now sharing intelligence and intelligence assessments of areas like the Balkans. We are debating and discussing how our military capabilities can be reshaped so that we can deal better with combating terrorism. And we are seeking to discover all the time new ways in which we can co-operate to deal with this greatest menace of the 21st century.

Moderator: Thank you.

Q: Lord Robertson, (inaudible)... Moscow. I want to ask whether your remarks this morning about civil rights and the avoidance of the use of excessive military force was a reference, veiled or otherwise, to Russia's conduct in Chechnya?

And also whether the issue of Ahmed Zakaev makes it difficult to develop the sort of co-operation you talked about, bearing in mind the difference in view of his culpability between Russia and other NATO members like (inaudible)...?

Lord Robertson: My remarks about the use of force being proportionate and appropriate relate not only to Chechnya but to any area of conflict where military action is engaged. This has been a long-standing view of myself and of NATO in relation to Chechnya and other terrorist conflicts.

We also believe that where military force is used against terrorists it must be accompanied by a political strategy. Otherwise the military force can turn out to be counterproductive or a failure.

In relation to Mr. Zakaev since this is the subject of action in the British courts, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on it.

Q: But given the passion aroused in Russia by this (inaudible)... how will the (inaudible)... to the common definition affect the ability of Russia and NATO to work in this.

Lord Robertson: I don't think that there is a huge problem of recognizing terrorism when we see it. We saw it here in Moscow in the Theatre and the (inaudible)... Street. We saw it in Bali. We have seen in Mombassa. And we saw it of course on the 11th of September in New York and Washington.
And I think that the international community knows now that global terrorism is the key threat of the 21st century and that we must mobilize together to counter it.

Moderator: Thank you.

Q: (inaudible)... Don't you think that (inaudible)... new members, the more members you have the less the protection(?) you may (inaudible). And (inaudible)... the prospect of admitting Ukraine and Georgia to NATO.

Lord Robertson: Any new members of NATO have to add value, both militarily and politically to the work of the Alliance. And we will only invite countries to become members if they satisfy both of these tests.

The door still remains open to future membership but no decisions have been taken as to who might go through that open door.

Moderator: Thank you. (Russian)...

Lord Robertson: Instability, terrorism, failed states, there are plenty of enemies of NATO and of Russia, that's why we work on these enemies together.

Q: Mr. Robertson, this is a question from Diplomatic Career Magazine. Did you discuss during your visit the trend or the prospect of the military reform and what (inaudible)... in Russia?

Lord Robertson: The whole issue of security sector reform is at the heart of the work that NATO does, both for its own countries but also in association with others. And we have now established a working party inside the NATO-Russia Council to look specifically at the defence reform.

Both Russia and some NATO countries face exactly the same problem today with their armed forces. They are too big, they are too heavy, they are too slow. And that means that they are not rightfully positioned to deal with the kind of threats that we will all face in the future.

The Cold War is over. Russia and NATO are partners and Cold War forces are simply a waste of money.

Q: This is question from Military Technology Information Agency. Mr. Secretary General, Russia is one of the largest exporters of weaponry in the world. Does NATO see a prospect in the future where Russia may supply some of its weaponry or technologies to the alliance?

Lord Robertson: In the past Russia and the NATO countries were on opposite sides. They were (inaudible). Therefore, it was impossible to think that you would sell military equipment or exchange technology across the Cold War divide. But now, Russia and the NATO nations are partners in the world, a dangerous world today against common threats and common enemies. So there must be prospects for the idea of sharing technology, sharing expertise and selling across what used to be an impossible division.

Q: This is a question from (inaudible)......television channel, Moscovia, Russia. The question is this: Mr. Secretary General, you have been speaking about reduction of armed forces, could you give some figures or prospects of possible reductions in this or that branch of the armed forces.

Lord Robertson: Thank you. You were the television station that phoned at quarter to 12:00 last night in my hotel room were you?

Lord Robertson: The armed forces for the Cold War were very large and they were difficult to move very quickly. For tomorrow's threats, indeed today's threats, we have to have smaller forces that are lighter, more flexible, better trained and able to travel quickly.

In the United Kingdom where I was the Defence Minister, the armed forces were reduced by a third in seven years after the end of the Cold War. But the reduction in number has to be accompanied by an increase in professionalism and in the quality of training and equipment. The terrorists of today, don't use the military and violent methods of the Cold War and that is why our armed forces, whether in Russia or in the NATO countries, must be able to deal with tomorrow's threats and not yesterday's enemy.

Q: Mr. Secretary General, this is a question from the magazine the World of (inaudible), a Russian magazine. NATO and Russia generally have (inaudible)... (inaudible)...in the United States have towards Lukashenka. Lukashenka is one of the (inaudible) military allies of Russia. What is NATO's attitudes with Lukashenka?

Lord Robertson: We share the view of the European Union. We... the United States is not a member of the European Union. But there is a common view, the European Union and in NATO that some of the human rights aspects of Mr. Lukashenka's rule are not acceptable in the Europe of today.
But I understand from Foreign Minister Ivanov that Belarus has now agreed to the OSC... a new OSCE mission being established in Minsk and that seems like a step in the right direction.

Q: My question is... Have you discussed with....

Moderator: Introduce yourself, please. Introduce yourself, please.

Q: (inaudible)... Have you discussed with President Putin or Mr. (Inaudible) Ivanov about the report (inaudible)...UN yesterday about the threat of mass destruction and how NATO and Russia (inaudible) or co-operate in the case of different actions by United Nations.

Lord Robertson: Yes. We did discuss the issue of Iraq today because NATO supports the United Nations resolution on Iraqi compliance. And I highlighted today that the heads of state and government in NATO have tried two weeks ago... made a decision to give effective support to the United Nations in getting compliance from Iraq.

The NATO countries and Russia have acknowledged by supporting the United Nations that military action might be required if Iraq fails to comply with the United Nations resolution. This is not an argument between America and Britain and Iraq. It is between Iraq and the whole united international community.

Moderator: (Russian)... Thank you so much for coming. Thank you. (Russian)...

Go to Homepage Go to Index