Russia-NATO summit to open in Rome on Tuesday

The Russia-NATO summit is opening in Rome on Tuesday. President of Russia Vladimir Putin and the heads of state and government of the 19 states of the North-Atlantic alliance will sign the Rome Declaration - the document on the establishment of the Russia-NATO Council. The first session of this council at the summit level will take place on the same day.

The questions which to be discussed by the Russia-NATO Council and on which decisions will be taken range from struggle against terrorism and from arms control to the settlement of regional conflicts and emergency situations.

The list of questions under discussion may be extended in the future. The new Russia-NATO Council which will replace the existing Permanent Joint Council established in 1997 will be a body of equal cooperation of 20 states acting in their national capacity. It will operate on the consensus principles and on the basis of equality. But Russia and NATO members reserve the right to act on their own if no consensus is reached on the questions at issue.

The Rome Declaration which is to be signed on Tuesday does not signify Russia's entry into NATO, but sanctions creation of a new mechanism of Russia's cooperation with the North-Atlantic Alliance.

The summit will be held at the Pratica-di-Mare Air-Force base 30 kilometres away from Rome, for security reasons. The Air-Force base is closed from land, the air and the sea. Berlusconi even joked on this score saying that on May 28 Pratica-di-Mare would be the most secure place in the world. For the purpose of security, Ciampino airport is also closed and Fiumicino airport will be open for fewer hours than usual. There is a plan of action in case of a terrorist attack and a plan of evacuation of the summiteers.

An aircraft equipped with the AWACS system and four Tornado fighter-bombers will be constantly in the air over Rome during the summit. Furthermore, several batteries of ground-to-air missiles will protect the sky over the capital of Italy.

As many as 15,000 military, policemen and carabineers have been drawn in ensuring law-and-order and security.

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