|Updated: 19-May-2003||May 2003|
Historic meetings in Moscow
On 13 May, for the first time ever, all nineteen NATO Ambassadors joined their Russian counterpart for a meeting in Moscow of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC), chaired by NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson. The meeting took place almost a year after the NRC was established at the summit meeting in Rome on 28 May 2002, opening a new page in NATO-Russia relations.
Discussing preparations for the upcoming June meetings of NRC Foreign and Defence Ministers, Ambassadors noted the substantial progress that has been made in the past year across a wide spectrum of areas in the framework of the NRC.
They welcomed the fact that the new Council is "evolving into a productive mechanism for consultation, consensus building, cooperation, joint decision and joint action". They also exchanged views on the situation in Afghanistan as part of their continuous political dialogue on security issues.
“Substantial progress has been made in moving towards practical cooperation in most areas of cooperation which were identified in the joint declaration in Rome,” said NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson at a press conference, “Those include agreed threat assessments on aspects of the terrorist threat to the Euro-Atlantic area, agreement on political modalities for future NATO-Russia peace-keeping operations and a planned procedural exercise to address these modalities.”
Following the meeting, ambassadors attended an informal lunch hosted by Deputy Minister Vladimir Chizhov before meeting with Defence Minister Sergey Ivanov to discuss defence reform and military-to-military cooperation. Later, they participated in a roundtable discussion at the State Duma with Lyubov Sliska, First Deputy Speaker, and members of the Committees on Security and Foreign Relations.
Lord Robertson then had a meeting with President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin, having held separate bilateral meetings with Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and Defence Minister Sergey Ivanov earlier in the day.
The NRC was established on 28 May 2002 by the Rome Declaration, which builds on the goals an principles of the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act. The individual Allies and Russia work "at twenty", as equal partners, on a wide range of Euro-Atlantic security issues of common interest through the NRC, which serves as a mechanism for consultation, consensus-building, cooperation, joint decision and joint action.
Since its establishment, cooperation has been intensified in key areas, such as the fight against terrorism, theatre missile defence, crisis management, submarine search and rescue, defence reform and military-to-military cooperation. Meetings are held at least monthly at the level of ambassadors and military representatives; twice yearly at the level of foreign and defence ministers and chiefs of staff; and occasionally at summit level.