|Last update: 11-Dec-2003 18:33||NATO Update|
A “new spirit” of cooperation between NATO and Russia
Speaking to the press on 4 December after the last ministerial meeting of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) he was to chair, before being succeeded by Jaap de Hoop Scheffer as NATO Secretary General at the beginning of 2004, Lord Robertson said: “Once more the new spirit of NATO-Russia cooperation was crystal clear. This is one of the biggest changes NATO has brought about over the past four years of my term. As I prepare to step down, it is one of my biggest sources of satisfaction.”
Welcoming significant progress in all areas of practical cooperation, NRC Foreign Ministers expressed their commitment to an intensified and growing partnership between NATO member states and Russia. They agreed to strengthen further the practical capabilities that will enable the NRC to achieve its full potential and to continue and broaden its political dialogue on a range of important Euro-Atlantic security issues, with a view to developing and promoting common positions and approaches and possible joint actions. A robust and forward-looking NRC Work Programme for 2004 was approved.
NRC Defence Ministers met earlier in the week, on 1 December, to review progress in the defence and military field, and to set goals for the future. They highlighted significant achievements of cooperation, in particular in the fight against terrorism, defence reform, military-to-military cooperation, civil emergency planning, non-proliferation, theatre missile defence and airspace management. They stressed that improving interoperability was a key priority in order to increase the capability of NATO and Russian forces to act together.
Ministers also welcomed the establishment of a direct, secure telephone communication link between the NATO Secretary General, who is also Chairman of the NRC, and the Russian Minister of Defence.
Both Foreign and Defence Ministers thanked Lord Robertson for his personal contribution to the development of a new quality in NATO-Russia cooperation, and expressed confidence that the new NRC Chairman will continue to build on this record of success.