Statement by Chairman of the NATO-Russia Council Anders Fogh Rasmussen, after the morning session of the NATO-Russia Council in Sochi, Russian Federation
I have just chaired a very constructive meeting of the NATO-Russia Council, held at the invitation of President Medvedev, and with the participation of Minister Lavrov and deputy Defence Minister Antonov. And this shows our continued commitment to cooperation, as we agreed in Lisbon last November
The spirit of Lisbon lives on. And it continues to guide us. Cooperation is the best choice. Partnership is the only path forward
Today, we agreed to continue our cooperation and to consolidate it. All twenty-nine members of this Council face the same threats and challenges. So we must combine our political will and our resources to tackle them effectively. Because NATO and Russia have a shared responsibility in strengthening the security and stability of the Euro-Atlantic Area.
And since the Lisbon summit, our cooperation has gained new momentum. Take terrorism. Just last month, NATO and Russian fighter jets held their first ever joint exercise over Poland and the Black Sea. They joined forces to intercept civilian planes that simulated a terrorist hijack, like the 9/11 attacks. And soon, in Paris and Saint Petersburg, we will test a joint system to detect explosives on suicide bombers in our subways, train stations, and airports. To stop an attack like the one that struck the Domodedovo airport in Moscow earlier this year. Both these exercises would have been hard to imagine not so long ago. Both are excellent examples of how much we stand to gain by working together.
We are also jointly investing in efforts to stabilise Afghanistan - supporting the Afghan air force and training officers to fight the drugs trade across the region. Officers trained by NATO and Russian specialists have participated in some of the largest heroin seizure operations in the region. This is an investment today that will strengthen our security tomorrow.
Practical defense cooperation provides a firm basis for our partnership - and we intend to develop a defense transparency dialogue to make it even stronger. We saw that cooperation in action last month. NATO and Russian naval forces combined to rescue personnel from a submarine. This was a high-level event, involving the head of the Russian General Staff, General Makarov, and the head of NATO's military committee, Admiral di Paola. And the good news is that they were both rescued!
Today, we restated our commitment to pursue missile defense cooperation in the NATO-Russia Council. We heard briefings from both NATO and Russia which clarified some important points about our plans and capabilities. We did this in the spirit of transparency and reciprocity. In the spirit of frank, open and frequent dialogue. In the spirit of Lisbon.
Many key issues still need to be addressed. We never said we would agree on missile defence overnight, or even in a few months. This is too important for all of us. But because it is so important, and because we all stand to gain by working together, we are determined to keep up the dialogue and to keep up the work. And we are making progress in matching our visions of the missile defence project.
We also exchanged views on Libya. In Lisbon, we agreed the NATO-Russia Council should be a forum for discussions on all issues and at all times. We take this very seriously. NATO regularly briefs Russian representatives on Operation Unified Protector for Libya.
Our mandate is clear: United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which authorizes all necessary means to prevent threats and attacks against civilians. Everything NATO does, together with our partners, many from the region, is in full compliance with that mandate.
So this has been a very constructive meeting. And I look forward to the meeting with President Medvedev later today. I am confident this will provide additional momentum to our joint endeavor.
We have come a long way from Lisbon to Sochi. And from Sochi, we can be confident about the way ahead. We have done a lot to translate words into deeds. And we still have a lot to accomplish together.
My hope is that we can all meet again in less than a year at the NATO summit in Chicago. And that we will be able to agree on a solution on missile defense that can make the security of NATO territory and of Russian territory more effective. Let's build the path of partnership together, from Sochi to Chicago.
Sochi has provided a beautiful and inspiring venue for this landmark meeting - so I would like to thank our Russian hosts for their warm hospitality.