Updated: 01-Dec-2003 NATO Speeches


1 Dec. 2003

Meeting of the NATO-Russia Council
in Defence Ministers Session

Opening Statement by NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson

Good afternoon and welcome to this meeting of NATO-Russia Council in Defence Ministers Session.

Eighteen months after the NRC’s creation in Rome, these meetings have become routine. But they are far from ordinary. Each and every NRC meeting is a step towards a new and better Europe.

That is why, this time last year, the 20 Defence Ministers around this table decided to strengthen military-to-military cooperation, intensify efforts on organizing defences, and build a wide-ranging NATO-Russia defence partnership. Since then, our experts have worked together to implement ambitious work programmes. They have achieved significant practical results in military exercises and training; search and rescue at sea; defence modernization; theatre missile defence; and other initiatives to improve the interoperability of NATO and Russian forces.

As we review progress today, I expect Defence Ministers to be very positive about our achievements in the defence and military field. But today’s meeting is also about setting new goals for the future, and I am confident Ministers will display the same determination to drive our work forward.

There should be no doubt about the strong resolve of all 20 countries to ensure that we can act jointly and effectively in the face of shared threats. We will therefore consider practical steps to increase NRC cooperation in the twin struggles against terrorism and non-proliferation, and Ministers will have an opportunity to exchange views on the current international situation and their common security concerns.

As a demonstration of the ever deepening NATO-Russia relationship, I would finally like to welcome the establishment of a direct secure telephone communication link between the NATO Secretary General, who is also the Chairman of the NATO-Russia Council and the Minister of Defence of the Russian Federation. We will inaugurate it as soon as Minister Ivanov returns to Moscow. Thereafter it will enable Minister Ivanov to get to know my successor, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, who will soon be sitting in this chair.

For me, the NATO-Russia Council has been one of the main achievements of my time as Secretary General. We have broken down barriers, destroyed stereotypes and built a new and powerful force for good. I congratulate everyone who has played a part in doing so.


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