News

10 November 1997

TEXT: NATO SECRETARY GENERAL'S SPEECH ON NATO-RUSSIAN RELATIONS

(Solana calls new NATO-Russia relationship "extraordinary") (2650)



Washington -- "Of all these breathtaking changes [since the end of the
Cold War], the evolution of a fundamentally new relationship between
the adversaries of the Cold War, NATO and Russia, remains, to my mind,
the most extraordinary." NATO Secretary General Javier Solana told the
Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Berlin November 7.


"I cannot conceive of any viable European security structure that does
not include an important role and a place for Russia," he said.


"What kind of Russia? We have in mind a Russia whose people are
prosperous and frequent visitors to our countries; a partner who
shares our interest in trade and stability; and a neighbour who
pursues its policies in a confident but transparent and peaceful
manner. In a word: We want Russia at ease with itself and the world
around it."


Solana stressed that "opening NATO to new members and opening our
minds to a new Russia followed the same path of reason and pointed
towards the same goal: an undivided Europe."


He talked about increased cooperation between NATO and Russia through
such programs as the Partnership for Peace and through joint efforts
in Bosnia, and Solana noted that the presence of a Russian delegation
at NATO headquarters has created an environment where "everyday
encounters challenge many a Cold War stereotype as they give NATO and
the Russian military a human face." The experiences of working
together and sharing information are an important element in the new
security environment in Europe, he said.


Solana expressed concern over the many political and economic
difficulties Russia faces. "But amidst all this, I believe there is a
growing realization among the Russian leadership, especially the
younger generation, that cooperation with the West -- not
confrontation -- is the best means to achieve security and
prosperity."


Today, he said, "we are extending the area of cooperative security and
prosperity further east. In the next century Russia may, for the first
time in its history, have a chance to become anchored in Europe in
ways which transcend geographic and political boundaries."


Following is the text from the NATO Home Page of Secretary General
Solana's speech to the Konrad Adenauer Foundation:


(Begin text)



At the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, 

Berlin 7 November 1997 



"NATO-RUSSIA RELATIONS AT THE TURN OF THE CENTURY"

Speech by the Secretary General



Ladies and Gentlemen, 



It is a pleasure to be here with you today in the capital of united
Germany. No other European city bears better testimony to the historic
changes which have taken place on the European continent over the last
decade. Where a few years ago walls, minefields, and guard towers
separated families and friends, we can now see Europe's biggest
construction site. Berlin, the former symbol of a divided continent,
is now a symbol of Europe uniting.


Just as your city has changed dramatically, so too has NATO. Who would
have predicted only a few years ago that we would one day invite
former members of the Warsaw Pact to join the Alliance? And who could
have imagined that NATO and Russia would come to a historic
understanding and embark on a promising partnership?


In the Europe we live in today, conditions defining our security have
changed irrevocably. The Chernobyl catastrophe brought this home
physically to areas as far apart as the Black Forest and Lappland.
Security encompasses much more than the absence of military threats.
With the Iron Curtain gone forever, our stability is even more
directly affected by the broader security situation in Central and
Eastern Europe, including Russia. As Volker Ruehe put it: We have to
export stability lest we risk importing instability.


Before this century draws to a close, the Alliance will have three new
members and enlargement of the European Union will also be well
underway. These parallel developments are tangible evidence of a
Europe becoming more and more closely intertwined.


In this new Europe the very concept of opposing sides or ideological
confrontation has lost any precise meaning. The real challenges our
countries face have become very similar. The countries of Central and
Eastern Europe compete for trade, not territory; for more wealth, not
more weapons. They have left the muddy trenches of past confrontation
and set out to conquer a secure and peaceful future.


NATO was quick to grasp the new situation. At the London Summit in
1990, NATO launched a broad outreach programme with the goal of tying
together all democracies on the European continent, including Russia,
through ever-closer ties of cooperation and partnership. The London
Summit also initiated a wide-ranging transformation of the Alliance
itself.


The Madrid Summit took our ambitious approach one step further. NATO
is taking an active part in shaping a Europe that is undivided and at
peace with itself. This includes enlargement of Alliance membership,
an enhanced Partnership for Peace, NATO's Mediterranean Dialogue, and
our new, distinct relationships with Russia and Ukraine.


Ladies and gentlemen, 



Of all these breathtaking changes, the evolution of a fundamentally
new relationship between the adversaries of the Cold War, NATO and
Russia, remains, to my mind, the most extraordinary.


For me personally, this process is inextricably linked to the memories
of negotiating the Founding Act with Yevgeniy Primakov, the Russian
Foreign Minister. It took us five months, a time of utmost intensity,
from the first round in a snow-covered dacha on the outskirts of
Moscow to the warm spring day in May when, having worked through the
night, we finally emerged from the negotiating table to tell the
waiting journalists of our success.


Berlin is an appropriate place to reflect upon the reality and the
potential of this new relationship. I am not thinking so much in
geographical terms, although it is true that Berlin lies closer to
Moscow than Brussels. Rather, I have in mind the centuries of history
which have alternately opposed and united Germany and Russia in a
changing, sometimes fateful relationship of crucial importance to the
whole of Europe.


Russia is a country with vast natural resources. It is the main
supplier of natural gas to Western Europe. Its economy offers huge
possibilities to foreign investors. 160 million people represent an
intellectual and scientific potential second to none. And Russia
remains the strongest single military power in Europe.


These features add up to one overriding conclusion: I cannot conceive
of any viable European security structure that does not include an
important role and a place for Russia.


What kind of Russia? We have in mind a Russia whose people are
prosperous and frequent visitors to our countries; a partner who
shares our interest in trade and stability; and a neighbour who
pursues its policies in a confident but transparent and peaceful
manner. In a word: We want Russia at ease with itself and the world
around it.


NATO's cooperation with Russia reflects this inclusive approach. Let
me recall some of the earlier milestones: Russia became a member of
the North-Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC) in 1991 and, after
signing the Partnership for Peace Framework Document in 1994, accepted
an Individual Partnership Programme, in 1995. A team of Russian
officers has been working at NATO's Supreme Command in Belgium over
the last two years. And, most importantly, Russia joined NATO Allies
and partner countries in our common peacekeeping effort in Bosnia in
early 1996.


As important as these milestones were, the NATO-Russia partnership
nonetheless lacked an overarching framework and a basic understanding
of where we were heading. Misconceptions lingered in the Russian
leadership over the continuing purpose of NATO and over the Alliance's
historic declaration at the Brussels Summit in early 1994 that new
members would be welcome. Some even argued that enlargement and
improved relations with Russia could never go hand in hand.


But Russia and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe are all
caught in the whirlwind of globalization and growing interdependence.
To us, therefore, opening NATO to new members and opening our minds to
a new Russia followed the same path of reason and pointed towards the
same goal: an undivided Europe.


NATO stood firm on its decision to welcome new members, in conformity
with the requirements and obligations set out in the Washington
Treaty. And we stood just as firmly by our conviction that Russia
could become a valuable strategic partner in helping to build the
stable Europe we seek. The result was the Founding Act on Mutual
Relations, Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russian
Federation, signed in Paris last May.


Chancellor Kohl spoke of the Founding Act as "visible proof that the
division of Europe has now been overcome." It is indeed a document of
undoubted political and historic significance, a door into the next
century pushed wide open.


I believe that today NATO and Russia have not only an option to
cooperate and confront common security challenges such as ethnic
conflicts or nuclear proliferation but a responsibility to do so. We
must therefore learn more about each other, we must speak to each
other more regularly, we must continue to develop trust, unity of
purpose and habits of consultation and cooperation between NATO and
Russia.


The Founding Act has created a mechanism to do just that -- consult,
coordinate, and act jointly. Through the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint
Council, it gives Russia a voice, not a veto on Alliance activities.
Allied Foreign Ministers and Russian Foreign Minister Primakov already
met for the first time in September and endorsed a vigorous
NATO-Russia work programme.


In New York, matters of topical concern were discussed such as the
present situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the more general issue
of peacekeeping operations. Building on this basis, we have now formed
a working group on peacekeeping; experts will be discussing questions
of nuclear doctrine and weapons, armaments-related cooperation, and
projects in the realm of civil emergency and science; Russia's
Individual Partnership Programme is being updated after a long period
of inactivity; and in a few days NATO and Russia will be holding a
workshop on retraining retired military personnel in Moscow.


Military-to-military cooperation will be a very important part of our
future partnership. In October the new Russian Defense Minister
Sergeyev met his NATO counterparts in Maastricht. Two weeks ago, the
Russian Chief of Defence Staff, General Kvashnin, visited NATO and
SHAPE and, on this occasion, introduced the new Russian Military
Representative in Brussels. Enabling the military to get to know each
other in practical day-to-day dealings -- what better way could there
be to build the confidence and trust we so urgently need?


Think of Bosnia, where 1500 Russian soldiers have been patrolling a
particularly sensitive part of the Inter Ethnic Boundary Line shoulder
to shoulder with their NATO comrades since 1996. On my visits to
Bosnia I was struck time and again by the fact that it was hard to
distinguish a military briefing by a Russian Colonel from that of his
U.S. or Swedish counterpart. I believe it fair to say that this new
form of cooperation in the field has opened the eyes of many of our
military and politicians, in NATO countries as well as in Russia. It
proves that we can work successfully together.


A final remark on mutual confidence: Information is the best cure for
lingering misconception. The Founding Act contains a provision for a
NATO Documentation Centre or Information Office in Moscow. As a first
step we hope to see a small Documentation Centre up and running by
January of next year. Similarly, I am heartened by the steady stream
of Russian visitors -- journalists, military representatives, and
public officials -- to NATO Headquarters and our Supreme Headquarters
in Mons. It took us, at NATO, some time to get used to meeting Russian
colleagues in the corridors or queuing in the canteen. These everyday
encounters challenge many a Cold War stereotype as they give NATO and
the Russian military a human face.


Taking a step back I am, of course, ready to concede that my case for
a new NATO-Russia realtionship is not without loose ends and a number
of significant question marks. I would like to offer some personal
reflections on these too.


During the final round of our talks in Moscow on the Founding Act, we
stayed at the old Central Committee Hotel President. From my window I
could see the new statue of Peter the Great, founder of St.
Petersburg, Russia's window to the West. Is he the protagonist of the
new Russia? Or will Russia remain, as Churchill once said, a riddle
wrapped up in a mystery inside an enigma? Have we made too big a
gamble in embracing a Russia which may still show signs of
unpredictability?


This summer, I found myself in Russia again, this time accompanied by
my wife and two grown children. For two weeks we enjoyed the serene
beauty of this immense country, its rich cultural heritage, and --
most memorable of all -- the warmth and hospitality of its people.


But at the back of one's mind, one can't help asking: will Russia go
down the path of cooperation, intensified economic exchange, and
inclusion that we are encouraging it to take? And will its domestic
fabric stand up to the enormous strains that accompany the
reorientation of society towards democracy, the market, and
internationalism?


These questions defy an easy answer. The Russian leadership is facing
difficulties which are, unfortunately, of nearly the same magnitude as
the positive changes -- and there have been many in recent years.
Russians are experiencing the pains of the end of an era as well as of
profound political and economic transformation. But amidst all this, I
believe there is a growing realization among the Russian leadership,
especially the younger generation, that cooperation with the West --
not confrontation -- is the best means to achieve security and
prosperity. And while the success or failure of these reforms is not
in our hands, neither should we remain indifferent. We should
encourage this approach by giving its proponents a fair possibility to
demonstrate that it can work.


Consider the hopeful signs of recent months. The economic free fall
has ended and has ushered in incremental growth for the first time in
years. Russia's involvement with the outside world in terms of trade
and investments is increasing, if slowly. At the same time, Russia has
joined nearly every economic club there is: the World Bank, the
European Development Bank, a Cooperation treaty with the EU which
should enter into force very soon, the Paris and the London Clubs, as
well as a liaison agreement with the OECD. Politically, Russia has de
facto joined the G-7. All this I take as further evidence of a serious
Russian engagement in Europe.


Russia is also engaged in a determined attempt to reform its armed
forces. Operating under severe financial constraints, grappling with
the problems of huge overstaffing and aging equipment, while
attempting to adapt to a changed strategic environment -- such is the
daunting list of tasks facing the reformers.


Ladies and gentlemen, 



One can spend a long time weighing the evidence. 



Today, we are extending the area of cooperative security and
prosperity further east. In the next century Russia may, for the first
time in its history, have a chance to become anchored in Europe in
ways which transcend geographic and political boundaries.


It is for Russia to decide whether it will walk down this avenue. NATO
has shown its readiness to extend a hand of friendship. In this sense,
the signing of the Founding Act was indeed a courageous step for both
sides to take, a "victory for reason," as Foreign Minister Primakov
aptly called it.


We cannot force the pace of history. But we should keep an open mind
to the potential the present holds.


(End text)




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