Nato-Russia Council

NATO-Russia Council Chairman's Press Conference

NATO-Russia Council Chairman's Statement

Informal meeting of the NATO-Russia Council at the level of Foreign Ministers

JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER (Secretary General of NATO):

Hello again, good evening.

Again, a bit late, but the reason was that I think I can say that the NATO-Russia Council certainly lived up to its potential the past two hours as a forum for open and frank dialogue. So that's a big plus.

Let me start by saying that all NRC Ministers welcomed the NATO-Russia cooperation until now on Afghanistan, which might be increased in the future, on the Operation Active Endeavour, on theatre missile defence, on air pictures, and on all the elements which have been part of a steadily progressing NATO-Russia relationship over the past years.

We look forward to the anniversaries. I mentioned them to you, the ten years NATO Founding Act and the five years NATO-Russia Council, which we'll celebrate in Russia with a seminar in St. Petersburg and a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council in Moscow.

But if I say that the NRC lived up to its potential that was not specifically on issues and items where we could see agreement, because there were two, as you might expect, which were discussed over the past two hours and that was, first of all, the whole discussion surrounding missile defence, and secondly the consequences of President Putin's speech of this morning concerning the Russian position on the Adapted CFE Treaty.

On missile defence, we do not look eye-to-eye in the sense that, as we already found out in the expert meeting on the 19th of April, there is not unanimity, there's not one opinion on the question, is this directed against Russia? It is not, the allies clearly stated. Russia has another position there, as it has on the perception of the threat.

You remember that we discussed already the very forward-leaning open offer which was made by our American friends and allies to the Russians. And there was a strong wish from the side of the allies that that would lead to a serious discussion and that our Russian friends would be able, not to accept that offer from A till Z, but at least open a discussion on it.

That was, of course, not only the wish of Secretary Rice, but I think a wish shared by all allies, and the NRC, the NATO-Russia Council was mentioned, as far as the NATO-Russia relationships is concerned, as the forum where this should be discussed.

That's a plus, by the way, because this meeting had a lot of substance. We did not agree on the substance, but it had a lot of substance, and that's what the NRC is for.

And I summed up the meeting, although it was an informal one, with the words, to be continued, to be continued. Although I do not expect that on the issues we will agree. Because the second issue was on CFE where Sergey Lavrov confirmed President Putin's statement made this morning, that Russia is suspending-he used the word moratorium-its adherence to the Adapted CFE Treaty.

I can tell you that that message was met by concern, grave concern, disappointment and regret, because the allies are of the opinion that the CFE Treaty is one of the cornerstones of European security, as it has grown from the CFE Treaty into the Adapted CFE Treaty and you know that despite the fact that the Adapted CFE Treaty could not yet been ratified, all the allies have always, to the letter and to the spirit, adhered to what is in the Adapted CFE Treaty. It has never been violated.

In other words, there is this discussion we know very well on the Istanbul Commitments. The allies are of the opinion that the Istanbul Commitment should be fulfilled and in full, before there can be any ratification of the Adapted CFE Treaty. There were Ministers who said if the Russians fulfil their Istanbul Commitments it will be a matter of days rather than weeks before the Adapted CFE Treaty can be ratified.

But we find ourselves confronted, unfortunately, and again, that leads to... not only to regret, but to concern, and strongly disappointment, that there is now a de facto a moratorium from the Russian side on the CFE Treaty.

On the other hand, I should say, that this concern, this disappointment, these worries, have not led to the conclusion, and will not lead to the conclusion that we will not continue this discussion in the NATO-Russia Council.

So also on CFE we continue our discussions in the hope that a meeting of minds is possible and the same, let me stress it once again, is relevant for the subject, missile defence. Not a meeting of minds, but we'll go on.

And we have, I think, a way forward to discuss these two issues.

So this is what I have to tell you. An excellent opportunity to share views, although the views are divergent. And the NATO allies and the Russians do not agree on CFE. Discussion to be continued. Discussion on missile defence at the expert level, at the ambassadorial level, at the political level, to be continued, that is what the NATO-Russia Council is for.

NATO-Russia Council Chairman Q&A

Informal meeting of the NATO-Russia Council at the level of Foreign Ministers

JAMES APPATHURAI (NATO Spokesman):

The first two questions are here and there.

Q: (inaudible)... Russia Today Television, from Russia, obviously. My question to you concerns the Russian... Russia's retreat from the CFE Treaty. Did Sergey Lavrov present his arguments to you? Did he understand them? Did he accept them? So according to you, what are the reasons behind Russia's retreat from the CFE Treaty, and what can be the consequences for the global forces and threats balance in Europe? Thank you.

JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER (Secretary General of NATO): Thank you so much. I see the arguments Sergey Lavrov has used, but you can ask himself in a few minutes, of course. 
Are the arguments we've always exchanged, he adds then Bulgaria and Romania, which in the opinion of the allies are definitely not, I repeat not, in violation of the Adapted CFE Treaty. But the arguments are... let me then phrase it in my own words, as I perceive them. We want the Adapted CFE Treaty, we Russians want the Adapted CFE Treaty to be ratified. You don't do that. The argument you use by not doing that we do not share, and one of the arguments, as you know, there is no legal relationship between the Istanbul Commitments and ratification of the Adapted CFE Treaty. We disagree, there is a clear legal relationship. It's on paper. It's written down. You can read it. 
So the arguments Sergey Lavrov used, as far as I perceive them, were not new. So I see it as a way of reaching a conclusion in Moscow, which I leave, of course, for our Russian partners, that this should be the way forward. Well it's a bit difficult to qualify this as a way forward, because it is not, of course. 
But on the allies I'm quite sure and certain that despite what is now the Russian position, seemingly, the allies will completely adhere to the rules and regulations and the content of the Adapted CFE Treaty. I don't doubt that, because that has always been the allied position.

APPATHURAI: Financial Times.

Q: Dan Dombey, Financial Times. Secretary General, may I ask, in what way is the Russians' unilateral decision to suspend de facto its adhesion to the CFE Treaty different from the U.S.'s decision to abrogate the ABM Treaty several years ago.

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Well, this is a step taken by the Russians. That was a step taken by the Americans. But I'm not going to compare the AMB Treaty and the CFE Treaty where the whole of NATO is involved. So you can't compare the two. That is not the right... that's a false comparison.

Q: Stana Popovic, journalist from daily newspaper Dan, Montenegro. My question is regarding Montenegro. What would be, in your opinion, the hardest challenges for Montenegro on its way to Euro-Atlantic Integration, when it might become part... a member of NATO? And what do you think about current political situation in Montenegro?

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: And now for something completely different. 
(LAUGHTER) 
DE HOOP SCHEFFER: I was... as you know, I was in Podgorica not that long ago and I talked to all the relevant Montenegrin interlocutors, and we discussed what is needed and what it necessary to follow the path of Euro-Atlantic... I speak for Atlantic integration, which is clearly a path, if I understood my Montenegrin interlocutors correctly, Montenegro wants to go. 
And you know, the different stages and the different phases. What is now important, and that was the key decision, is that Montenegro is now in the Partnership for Peace and then you know how things go; an individual Partnership Action Plan, and the rest of the road. 
NATO and NATO allies will assist Montenegro, wherever that assistance is necessary, and on the process itself, as you know, I cannot give you a date and timelines, because it is Montenegro in this regard which will have to perform.

 

APPATHURAI: Last question is here.

 

Q: Oystein Bogen from Norwegian TV 2. Mr. Secretary, in which way do you feel that today's Russian announcement about the CFE is linked to the disagreements about the missile shield?

 

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: I say once again that I do see these subjects in their own right. I don't believe in packaging, in a long career in foreign policy, and I don't see packaging. So we, and I, look at the subjects we are discussing, be it CFE, be it missile defence, be it the discussion in the Security Council on Kosovo, as subjects and items and elements in their own...

Transcript of Remarks and Replies to Media Questions by Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov Following Ministerial Meeting of Russia-NATO Council, Oslo, April 26, 2007.

Foreign Minister Lavrov: Dear colleagues,

Over the five years the Russia-NATO Council (RNC) has been in existence, this mechanism has completely proven itself as a forum where any problem concerning European security, primarily in the military-political sphere, can be frankly discussed, as indeed was the case in the previous years. Today, we also spoke frankly with each other about the prospects for joint work to buttress security and prevent dividing lines in Europe. I think you understand it is a discussion long overdue. It was for such discussion that Russian President Putin extended an invitation as he spoke at the conference in Munich and suggested doing some collective work to create a global security architecture acceptable to all. In the framework of our RNC interaction, we have done quite a lot. The spectrum of cooperation is wide. It encompasses political dialogue and practical aspects of collaboration in response to the threats common to our countries - international terrorism, drug trafficking, conflicts and crises. On all these issues, we have a concrete, well-honed program of action.

At the same time, we and our partners in this entity are clear that its potential is not being fully used so far. Our relations sometimes lack the necessary level of trust. You will agree, this needs to be worked on.

The parameters of our interaction largely depend on how the alliance's transformation will proceed. There are a number of aspects in this regard that evoke our concern. For example, it was agreed at the NATO Riga Summit in what cases military force could be used. The number of such hypothetical scenarios is increasing. But there is no clarity as to how this is going to correlate with the rules of international law, in particular, whether NATO will ask for permission from the United Nations, as it should be done under the Charter of the Organization.

We cannot, of course, watch impartially the military structure of the alliance moving ever closer to our borders. It is worrying that since 1999 nothing has been done to advance arms control and military restraint. These tasks have a fundamental significance for our relations with the alliance.

Today in his address to the Russian Federal Assembly President Putin thoroughly reviewed the situation with the CFE Treaty, which, as a matter of fact, Russia alone has been complying with all these years, and raised the necessity of having a serious discussion on what to do further with this Treaty and that Russia has to declare a moratorium on the implementation of this Treaty. And if the discussion fails to lead to radical changes, and our partners still refuse to ratify it, then withdrawal from CFE will become imminent. We today told our RNC partners most thoroughly about this, although this did not come as news for them. On this theme we have been talking in detail, with arguments, for several years now. So that the situation must be changed in this regard, breaking the deadlock and returning to arms control on a nondiscriminatory, equal basis.

We are on the threshold of the tenth anniversary of the Russia-NATO Founding Act and the fifth anniversary of the establishment of the RNC. In the context of all these historic dates we remember the assurances that were given to us in their time after the dissolution of the Warsaw Treaty Organization, that plans for NATO enlargement did not exist. Today there's no attempt to recall this, and the "open door policy" has on the contrary been proclaimed a policy postulate of the alliance. Our position is well known. We believe that in the absence of a real enemy, and we are being told that there is no real enemy or, at least, we are not the enemy, the enlargement reduces the level of mutual trust and, essentially, turns into a factor which regenerates the search for an enemy. What is this needed for, no one understands. All of this leads to new dividing lines on the European continent and not only between states, but also within them.

Look how public opinion perceives certain recent developments, in particular the plan to deploy a third position area (TPA) of US missile defenses in Europe. This brings a basically new context in our relations, as a strategic component of the US armed forces may appear in Europe for the first time since the Cold War. The debate taking place around these plans vividly confirms that this issue concerns all European countries, because it will impact the architecture of all European security. Of course, we must take into account the fact that, as they tell us, the previous NATO MD plans will now depend on how the United States' unilateral scheme for national MD develops. We today spoke a great deal, and at considerable length, with our colleagues on this theme, citing concrete facts showing the invalidity of the calculations that the TPA, as conceived, could be of any use, for example, against an Iranian nuclear threat. That threat simply does not exist, nor can it arise in the foreseeable future, since this implies entirely different technologies, and a different production base than what Iran has. We once again explained it in detail, in addition to the briefings held here on April 19 as well as the big press conference given in Moscow by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Kislyak and by Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Yuri Baluyevsky. Naturally, we reaffirmed our readiness to continue discussion, both with the US and in the RNC framework, on the understanding that this debate would proceed on the basis of due consideration for everybody's interests, and most importantly, that it would be equal in all stages, from the very first stage of threat assessment and then the elaboration of the measures necessary for neutralizing them. If this kind of assessment is made, it will then turn out that the radar facility should be placed not there, but more to the south, and that the interceptors should also be deployed not where they are planned, but more southwards. Our NATO partners have heard all this. Experts have long since known about it. Hopefully in reply we will receive something greater than mere assurances that this is not against us. That's really the only thing we hear in response to the most detailed calculations, charts and diagrams that we have presented to the partners. I think that the time is ripe for understanding the need for serious discussion. At least, we will seek to promote work in just this vein, showing the extent to which this may create risks for European and global security. 
We approved a 2007 RNC work program today. It represents a fairly large document, and contains a number of specific areas for us to advance this year. We will be developing a joint capability to counter the new threats and challenges. I shall note that one such area is the situation in Afghanistan. Both Russia and NATO objectively have a great interest in rehabilitating Afghanistan, and preventing the terrorist and drug threats emanating from that country. We are already cooperating with NATO in this direction. There is a joint project for the training of personnel for the antidrug entities of Afghanistan and the countries of Central Asia. I think that this will be a long-term project. Russia makes its contribution in the framework of the MVD training center in Moscow. We are ready to study other possibilities to counter the threats emanating from Afghanistan, bilaterally and by forging cooperation through NATO and the CSTO. It would be very appropriate, and most importantly, useful for these two structures to act on the different sides of the Afghan border, certainly in coordination with the Afghan authorities, and raise the effectiveness of their efforts in combating the drug traffic. So far our NATO partners have not agreed to this cooperation, actually for more than two years now, citing the absence of consensus in the alliance. But we are patient people, especially as some NATO nations have already taken part as observers in the antidrug Operation Kanal, which the CSTO periodically conducts to stop the flow of narcotic drugs from Afghanistan.

 

We intend to mark the tenth anniversary of the Russia-NATO Founding Act and the fifth anniversary of the establishment and activities of the RNC in a business-like way. Russia will make its contribution by holding a Russia-NATO Council session at the end of June. Simultaneously a seminar will take place in St. Petersburg involving political scientists from the NATO countries and Russia, and ambassadors ensuring the RNC's work, to discuss prospects for further joint, equal work to counter the new threats and challenges.

 

This entity (RNC) is, of course, not simple and not easy. But there are no easy ways to buttress security in the contemporary world. We are disposed to consistently increase and expand the degree of joint actions, and try with maximum openness to discuss and consider the concerns that we or our partners might have with respect to matters affecting global and European security.

 

Question: During the debate, did it seem to you that the decision on US missile defense deployment in Poland and the Czech Republic was final or is this a question that is going to be discussed, with its possible adjustment? Were all the alliance's members unanimous on this issue within the RNC, in your opinion?

Foreign Minister Lavrov: It was a closed meeting. I don't consider myself entitled to describe who said what in detail.

Regarding the first part of the question, I can only say that we proceed from the necessity first to jointly analyze from whom we together want to defend ourselves, compare the assessments we, the US and other NATO countries have of the threats which are real, and after this, having elaborated their common understanding, decide where it is necessary to locate radar facilities or other MD components. But the starting point is to understand whether any threats exist at all, and if they do, then from where they emanate.

That's our position. We shall be guided by it in further discussions. We do not see any real threats that would require creating a base of interceptors in Poland and setting up a radar facility in the Czech Republic at present.

Question: A radar facility will be located in the Czech Republic. To what extent will this question of Russian-American relations affect relations with the Czech Republic?

Foreign Minister Lavrov: You know we do not interfere in bilateral relations of other countries. This is our principle. In this case we simply want to emphasize the thing which no one can deny - the creation of a TPA cannot be a private business of some or other country. This question radically changes the security situation in Europe, deploying a strategic component of the US armed forces on the continent. Any action will have counteraction. With the appearance of defensive arms new offensive arms always appear. The press conference of the Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Defense Ministry in Moscow, after the visit of US Defense Secretary Gates, was all about it. We do not intend to have a grudge against anyone. We want to be understood. Our experts on the eve of Czech President Klaus's visit went to Prague, spoke to their Czech colleagues, and explained our approaches. We proposed a similar meeting with our Polish colleagues and now wait for their answer. Hopefully it will also take place. There is no question of drawing any particular conclusions for bilateral relations or dissolving any agreements. Not at all. It is important that everybody should realize the globality of what is actually happening. A material reality is being created for decades ahead. It will influence the security of each of us.

Question: Please comment on today's events in Tallinn. There are reports that clashes with police by those defending the monument are taking place there?

Foreign Minister Lavrov: I believe that all this is disgusting. Although I have not seen any footage yet, I have heard what is happening there. There can be no justification for this blasphemy. It will have serious consequences for our relations with Estonia. It cannot but affect relations with the EU and NATO eventually - organizations which have admitted into their fold a country grossly violating the values on which the European Union and indeed European culture and democracy rest.

Question: Did you discuss Kosovo and the Ahtisaari plan with Jaap de Hoop Scheffer?

Foreign Minister Lavrov: Jaap de Hoop Scheffer is a good friend of mine, but so far he is not a UN Secretary General or President of the UNSC. Kosovo was not discussed today. Our position is well known. The decision can only be of the kind that will suit both sides. Any other solution, unilaterally imposed, is bound to destabilize the situation and create a precedent. Say whatever one might, that precedent will arise.

Question: To what practical steps will the moratorium declared by Russian President Puin on the CFE Treaty lead? How will this affect the strategic balance in Europe?

Foreign Minister Lavrov: I don't think it will in any way, because the balance has long since been upset radically in favor of the NATO countries. The very logic of CFE was devalued, and the treaty actually became pointless. Russia is practically the only one who abides by this treaty in the hope that it will be adapted by all the countries. But today I heard no wish to appreciate this necessity. The treaty contains a procedure which can be activated. But we first want, as the Russian President said, to discuss the situation in the RNC. We proposed to do this. We will now look how constructively our partners behave. Should they again sing the old song about the need to link the treaty's ratification to the situation in Georgia or Moldova, then, as our President said, juridically these matters are in no way connected and attempts to advance them will therefore bring into play the mechanism of which he spoke in his address to the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation.

Question: Does the moratorium mean that facility inspections will not be carried out anymore?

Foreign Minister Lavrov: We suspend our obligations under the treaty. We have currently not only been fulfilling our obligations but also doing something over and above our obligations. So that all this will now be under moratorium. 
Question: The NATO Secretary General spoke just before you. He thinks that comparing the United States' withdrawal from the ABM Treaty and Russia's moratorium on the CFE is incorrect. Do you agree with this?

Foreign Minister Lavrov: These are completely different things. In the first case a treaty that worked and concerned a hugely important area of strategic stability was ruined because a party to the treaty, the US, had decided to create a missile defense system, that is do what was bluntly prohibited under the ABM Treaty. It was a conscious decision which continues the logic of the "star wars" of the end of the last century and aims to set up a nuclear shield, this subsequently creating a sense of vulnerability even with the availability of a potential for a first devastating strike. You understand yourself what temptations this can lead to.

As to the CFE Treaty, it is multilateral. Here it is Russia, being in fact the only country abiding by it, because no one except us does so, that finds itself in a situation where it simply does not want to participate in a "theater of the absurd." Everything has changed in a cardinal way, and we pretend that by limiting ourselves within our territories, of which the Russian President spoke today in detail, we strengthen our security in the face of the growth and enhancement of the military presence of the NATO countries around our borders. So I think that in this case, the comparisons are hardly 100 percent appropriate. But in both cases the talk is about the necessity to strengthen global security. In the process, of course, we cannot fail to think about the security of Russia either. The US withdrawal from the ABM Treaty harmed an important legal document which had been ensuring our security. We were compelled to draw conclusions from this. Now that a MD system is really being moved into Europe, we will draw additional conclusions. Preserving the CFE runs counter to our security interests.