Russia's ties with NATO may be complicated by entry of Estonia and Latvia

The entry of Latvia and Estonia into NATO may significantly complicate Russia's relations with the alliance, which is not in the interests of either side. This announcement was made today by Liubov Sliska, deputy speaker of the Russian State Duma, at an assembly in Moscow of the NATO parliamentary committee on economics and security.

'I am very concerned about the Russian minorities living in Estonia and Latvia and believe their human rights are being infringed upon. There are unsolved problems in these countries regarding the legal rights of Russian nationals in terms of education and social integration,' Ms Sliska said. As a result, she said, the human rights of about one third of the population of Estonia are being violated and Russian-NATO relations are based on our bilateral relations with each of the member-states.

Mrs Sliska also stressed that the alliance must analyse its legal basis for deploying armed forces outside the parameters of defence strategy.

In general, Mrs Sliska said, Russia and NATO have made progress in achieving closer cooperation. Joint working groups have been formed on non-strategic anti-missile defence and there is closer collaboration on peacekeeping missions.

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