|Updated: 09-Dec-2004||NATO Speeches|
9 Dec. 2004
by NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
2004 has been a productive year for the NATO-Russia Council. I am pleased to report that in the second half of the year, your representatives have made substantial progress in implementing the goals you set at our last meeting in Istanbul.
Today, we will send two tangible signals of NATO-Russia solidarity in the face of the terrorist threat. As you have just witnessed, we have welcomed Russia’s support to Operation Active Endeavour. We will also consider here today a comprehensive NATO-Russia Action Plan on Terrorism, aimed at strengthening our co-operation in preventing, combating and managing the consequences of terrorist acts.
But our relationship goes well beyond the struggle against terrorism. We have made important progress in deepening our co-operation in areas as diverse as civil emergency planning and response, theatre missile defence and airspace management. We have continued to intensify co-operation among our military forces, and tested our ability to work together in crisis management through an ambitious NATO-Russia procedural exercise.
The success of the June 2004 civil emergency response exercise "Kaliningrad 2004" has paved the way to the development of a joint exercise programme in this area. Another success was “Avariya 2004”, a field demonstration hosted by Russia on nuclear weapon accident and incident response procedures. We will follow up with a similar event hosted by the United Kingdom in September of next year.
Today, we will adopt a robust, forward-looking work programme for 2005 that seeks to build on these achievements, and our discussion today provides a good opportunity to set priorities for the year ahead. Russia’s accession to the Partnership for Peace Status of Forces Agreement, which will open up countless additional opportunities for additional joint training and practical co-operation, should be one of those priorities. So should the resolution of longstanding issues connected with the CFE Treaty – the implementation of unfulfilled “Istanbul commitments”, and the ratification and entry into force of the adapted Treaty itself.
But the NATO-Russia Council is not just about technical and military co-operation. It is also a forum for frank, constructive political dialogue. Here too, we have made important progress in 2004, deepening our consultations on Afghanistan and the Balkans, and broadening them to include situations of common interest to us all in Georgia and in Iraq.
We will continue that dialogue here today. It is no secret that this meeting takes place against the backdrop of dramatic events in Ukraine and a crisis we all hope is well on its way to resolution, following the constructive steps taken yesterday in the Verkhovna Rada, and we will exchange views on this and other current security issues. And while many in the media have attempted to portray these events as a return to Cold-War era confrontation between East and West, I am confident that we can prove them wrong and find significant common ground here today. A sovereign, peaceful, unified and stable Ukraine is vitally important to every nation represented here. Similarly, the democratic aspirations of the Ukrainian people, to choose their own leaders, free from fraud and intimidation, should also meet with our common support.