Meeting of the NATO-Russia Council at the level of Foreign Ministers
Press conference by NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
Two Russian navy vessels will join the NATO fleet in the Mediterranean as part of the so-called Operation Active Endeavour. We will take our Theatre Missile Defence Project forward and military activities will give more emphasis to key interoperability areas, including special forces, communications and military transport aviation.
So as you can see from these examples, the practical side of the NATO-Russia Council is well developed. So is the political.
Ministers discussed today the political future of Kosovo and Afghanistan. Both areas, for all 27 in the NRC have real strategic and common interests.
Will we agree on everything? Not always. Not always. Let's be open about that as well, but working together, even if we disagree on this or that, it's a sign of strong leadership. This relationship is strong and it will be stronger again next year as you will appreciate from the statements we issued today.
That is, ladies and gentlemen, to me the flavour of today's meeting. I'm open and ready for your comments and questions.
Q: As far as we know Minister Lavrov briefed you on... I don't know, the abbreviation in English.
De Hoop Scheffer: CSTO.
Q: Yes, CSTO. Yes. And possibilities of cooperation between NATO and... are you ready to cooperate with this organization as a whole entity, or you prefer to deal with each country bilaterally?
De Hoop Scheffer: Minister Lavrov briefed us, in fact, twice, because he gave a short briefing at the luncheon to the... for the EAPC--excuse the acronym--and he did it again in more extensive form a moment ago in the NRC. The Allies prefer the cooperation in the framework as we have it now, that is that the Minister Lavrov, in his capacity as president in office of the CSTO, briefs. And that's... we also have to look at existing partnerships, how we can make better use of them. To give you one example, all the relevant parties are in the EAPC. Allies prefer the cooperation, as I indicate, and that was, I think the second alternative you mentioned in your question.
Q: Leon Bruneau, Agence France-Presse. I understand, of course, that on a practical level, military to military, that cooperation seems to be quite on track. But on the political side, aside maybe from Kosovo, it seems that the dialogue needs to be enhanced. At least there are a lot of countries who think... who would like to have a more strategic dialogue with Russia, and Russia does not seem to be answering that call.
What are your thoughts on that?
De Hoop Scheffer: I think you do the Russian Federation an injustice here, because as I said, and as I've experienced as Secretary General now almost two years in office, I have seen the NATO-Russia cooperation, also the political volet, to say it in beautiful French, or not so beautiful perhaps, but the political volet, the political leg of the cooperation has been developing and we have been discussing, not always the most easy subjects, as I indicated.
If you mention Kosovo more specifically, I think, based on the discussions we had today, that I do not see a difference of approach, fundamental difference of the approach. I mean, the Russians are participating in the contact group with a number of NATO allies.
No, that is not the feeling and the indication I have from this meeting. Let's be frank, on Istanbul commitments and on CFE, we do not see eye to eye. But that is not, let's say, a problem of such magnitude that you could say that as a consequence of that there is no serious political dialogue. It is a very political dialogue, and there should be one.
Let me stress once again, I do consider this partnership as a very important one. And I think more and more we're discussing the subjects which might, from a political point of view, the bit more complicated subjects.
Q: Would you agree with Russian suggestion to organize counter-narcotics courses in Moscow region, in (inaudible)...?
De Hoop Scheffer: Yes, part of the pilot I indicated includes, indeed, this kind of course and this kind of training. So my answer is yes.
Thank you so much.