State Duma against NATO expansion

Russian MPs are still against NATO expansion, announced the State Duma's first deputy speaker, head of the Russian delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly Lyubov Sliska.

"We believe that this step contradicts the spirit and nature of the new relations between Russia and NATO and is inadequate to the current need in ensuring security," Sliska said, when speaking at the session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly's economic and security issues committee, held in the State Duma on Monday.

"Many candidates strive to join NATO not so much to cooperate in fight against new challenges, as to ensure their security in case of some 'outside threat'," the Duma's first deputy speaker emphasized.

In the context of the forthcoming admission of the Baltic States to NATO, Sliska expressed "deep anxiety about the situation with the protection of rights of ethnic minorities, especially in Latvia and Estonia." "So far they have not solved serious tasks of ensuring the legitimate rights of Russian-speaking population in the sphere of education, language policy, its social integration. Hundreds of thousands of residents do hot have citizenship, rates of naturalization have slowed down, voting, social, cultural and educational rights of almost one third of residents in Latvia and Estonia are constantly and openly abused," she announced.

"We proceed from the fact that relations between Russia and NATO are forming on the basis of our bilateral relations with each member state of the North Atlantic Alliance. Consequently, the burden of bilateral problems can significantly complicate relations between Russia and the NATO. This would be undesirable both for the North Atlantic Alliance and for Russia," she concluded.

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