Vladimir Putin: Russia And NATO Are At The Stage Of Working Out New Forms And Content Of Their Cooperation

Russia and NATO are at a stage of working out new forms and content of their cooperation, said Vladimir Putin in an interview he gave to the Greek newspapers Eleftherotypia and To Vima in the run-up to his visit to Greece. The text of the interview was received by the press service of the Russian President. According to the head of the Russia state, after September 11 "it has become absolutely clear that the present content and the structure of the Russia-NATO relations no longer correspond to the real requirements of security in the face of new threats and challenges." Vladimir Putin believes that "Russia and the NATO countries are equally interested in these relations entering the level of strategic ensuring a single Euroatlantic security space." "It seems to us that there is a definite range of issues which underlies security in discussing and working out decisions in which Russia could also take a full part. And its voice should be the same as the voice of any other participant in these events, in this process. If this happens, the problem of NATO's expansion will lose its urgency and acuteness which in itself has no sense from the point of view of ensuring security. It has a sense only for some potential member-countries for resolving their own inner political problems." s! ! aid Vladimir Putin. The President also observed that "the thesis of the necessity of forming a Group of 20 Countries is no longer disputed by anybody. "We want that in the final analysis in the competence of this Group there will be a maximum broad range of problems of Euroatlantic security which we are ready to discuss jointly. Naturally, we exclude from this the defensive component (including Article 5 of the Washington Treaty) and internal problems," said the Russian President. Speaking about the entry into NATO of the countries of Baltia, Vladimir Putin remarked that the desire of every country to strengthen its security "is explainable and understandable." "However, we believe that with a greater success this could be done by forming in the Baltic region a system of multilateral security in a broad sense of this word," he emphasised. Touching upon the possibility of cooperation between Russia and NATO in the Balkans, Vladimir Putin said that "it would be better for all if the Balkans turns from the conflict-creating region into the pole of cooperation." "We have always been striving for this and would hail NATO's readiness to carry out such cooperation. But the foundation itself on which it will be built is very important for us. As we understand it, this is the necessity to normalise the situation in the region as a whole and to ensure a lasting peace and stability," stated Vladimir Putin.