Meeting of the NATO-Russia Council at the level of Foreign Ministers
Press Conference by NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson and Igor Ivanov, Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Russian Federation following the Meeting of the NATO-Russia Council
Lord Robertson: Ladies and Gentlemen,
In May of this year, the 20 Heads of State and Government of the NATO member states and of the Russian Federation created a forum where NATO member states and Russia will work as equal partners in areas of common interest. Today, 20 foreign ministers from the NATO countries and the Russian Federation had their first foreign ministerial level meeting of the NATO-Russia Council.
As Chairman of that Council I am pleased to report that the NATO-Russia Council is more than living up to the expectations that we declared in May of this year. All of the ministers expressed their profound satisfaction at the progress that has been made, both on individual projects, but also in the continuing dialogue on the issues of common concern and common interest.
More details of what we discussed and the conclusions are in my chairman's statement which is going to be distributed to you. It is issued on my behalf as chairman of the NATO-Russia Council and I think will give you good information about what happened.
We briefed this morning on the decisions taken by NATO to enlarge and ministers noted the assurances of NATO ministers that these decisions are not directed against the security interests of Russia or indeed of any other partner state.
Of course, we work within the context, the very firm context of the founding act and the Rome declaration and if you read them you will see the modalities in which we approach these issues. We agreed that we face common threats and common challenges and therefore our work must intensify in order to be able to take a grip of how these threats and challenges are going to be met on behalf of all of the people.
So the promise made in Rome of a qualitatively new relationship between NATO and Russia was an ambitious one and indeed there were a lot of sceptics around in the press and the outside world who cast some doubts on it. Six months on we have made tangible progress and that was recognized by all 20 ministers at this meeting today.
Finally, I just add that I will be travelling to Moscow on the 9th of December for the conference that will be held under the auspices of the NATO-Russia Council and the subject of the role of the military in combating terrorism, and I'm looking forward there to meeting Foreign Minister Ivanov, Defence Minister Ivanov, and also the president of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin.
Moderator: Questions please. The gentleman there.
Q: Secretary General, BBC Russian Service, Moscow. Did you discuss in any way the situation of the Iraqi crisis and the UN resolutions during your meeting with Mr. Ivanov and other heads of NATO states
Lord Robertson: No, we did not discuss any particular crisis. Specifically it was a brief meeting today to review the progress on the NATO-Russia Council, but if we had discussed Iraq I know that there would have been unanimous support for the U.S. Security Council Resolution 1441 and we are determined to set up channels that will allow us to talk about subjects, especially that that was important.
I can tell you that the most often quoted subject of this morning's meeting was the hostage situation in Moscow where all of the ministers around the table expressed their disgust and their horror that civilians, innocent civilians, should have been swept up in that criminal activity. And there is a great sense of solidarity with Russia over that form of terrorism because many of the other states in the room have got pretty bitter experience of domestic terrorism as well.
Moderator: A question here on my right.
Q: BBC Ukrainian Section in London. Will NATO press Russian leadership on a peaceful solution in Chechnya? Thank you.
Lord Robertson: Well, we have always said to the Russian Federation that there needs to be a political track in Chechnya. It was a subject discussed at the last meeting that we had on the military aspects of counterterrorism. And we will, in the course of our work, discuss the modalities of peacekeeping operations and hopefully the modalities of dealing with crises in general. It was not specifically referred to this morning.
Moderator: My left there.
Q: Journalist from Georgia. Did you discuss the question about the former Soviet republics as it's known, the president of Georgia, Mr. Shevardnadze will request here to join an IPAP (Individual Partnership Action Plan) program about membership. Your commentary about this.
Lord Robertson: No, we didn't discuss former Soviet republics, but most of the former Soviet republics have their heads of government, heads of state present for the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and they will be speaking for themselves.
Moderator: last question here.
Q: BBC Ukrainian Section. Yesterday you were not sure whether President Kuchma will join you today. Is he?
Lord Robertson: President Kuchma was at the dinner last night and he'll be at the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council today, yes.
Moderator: Thank you very much. That will be all.
Statement by Igor Ivanov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation followed by Q&A
(no text version- to come)