13 May 200313:44



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Unofficial translation from Russian

Esteemed Mr. Chairman,

Esteemed colleagues,

I am pleased to greet the participants in the session of the Russia-NATO Council. We attach to this meeting special importance. For the first time Council at 20 has convened in Moscow. We regard this as one more confirmation of our common readiness to jointly work on the solution of security problems in the Euro-Atlantic region. This task is particularly relevant in the conditions when the coordinated efforts of all states are necessary in the formation of a security architecture which would safeguard peace and stability in the face of new threats and challenges.

Of central importance is the question of just what kind of Euro-Atlantic and international security architecture we are going to set up and on which principles it will be founded. It is obvious that the very nature of present-day conflicts and crises demands that they should be settled on the basis of multilateral efforts. This presupposes the need to strengthen and improve the appropriate mechanisms for international cooperation. An undoubted priority here belongs to the United Nations, playing a central role in ensuring world law and order and possessing by virtue of its Charter universally recognized international legitimacy.

Relations between Russia and NATO blend naturally into the emerging European security architecture and are becoming one of the load-bearing pillars of the system of international relations. With the signing of the Rome Declaration not only did a new chapter open in the Russia-NATO political dialogue, but its content and orientation became qualitatively different as well. In essence, a multilateral mechanism was created and launched, jointly earning our capital of trust, which really helps to meet the security requirements of the countries which form our Council.

Although movement towards a new quality of the Russia-NATO relationship was not easy, I think that we generally managed to overcome distrust and start building partner relations based on equality with due regard for the lawful interests of each other.

Naturally, while looking into the prospect of our relations, we should take care of the strength of their foundation. In this case it is important to retain the positive accretions made over the last few years in terms of doing away with the consequences of the Cold War and creating a genuinely Europe-wide system of security.

The adaptation of the previous structures to the new realities is a completely natural process. But it is important that it should meet the lawful security interests of all members of the international community and should not weaken the arms control instruments which have well acquitted themselves. However, things are not running smooth here. In the first place, we are worried by the stalling in bringing the adapted CEF Treaty into force and the absence of any restrictions on military deployments in the territories of the states joining NATO which are not parties to this Treaty. If we fail to bring the Agreement on the Adaptation of the CEF Treaty into force by May 2004, there may arise a dangerous gap between the new geopolitical and military realities, on one hand, and the existing system of arms control measures, on the other.

Over the long run we aim to turn Council at 20 into a supporting mechanism for cooperation on the full range of security issues, including those of crisis settlement. We are convinced that the Russia-NATO Council must efficiently function in any political situation. The usefulness of the RNC instruments would then increase many times over. Why not, for example, convene additional meetings of ministers, as provided by RNC procedures, to discuss the conflicts of the day - such as the Iraq crisis, and perhaps other conflicts too?

I am confident that the time has come for a keen dialogue within the Council on Afghan problems, including in the context of the plans to enhance NATO's role in the peacekeeping operation in Afghanistan.

I would like today to reaffirm our readiness to continue to work in the interest of improving the quality of relations between Russia and NATO, as well as to bring our approaches closer in conformity with the Rome Declaration. If we accomplish this task, the Russia-NATO Council will become a truly integral part of the global system for combating the present-day threats and challenges, the strength of which lies in reliance upon international law and the provisions of the UN Charter.

Allow me to wish all the participants in the present session constructive work in the interests of the security of our countries and peoples and in the interests of international security as a whole.

May 13, 2003

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