Russian-NATO relations in new format developing positively

The relations between Russia and NATO in the new format are developing positively, said Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov at a joint press conference with NATO Secretary General George Robertson.

"Over the year after the signing of the Rome declaration, we have managed to fulfil its provisions in practice, in concrete joint projects and practical measures," the minister emphasised. The seriousness of the parties' intentions is first of all reflected in the "scale and efficiency of the Plan of Russia-NATO military co-operation for the current year, and in the positive dynamism of its realisation," he believes.

Ivanov said interaction for the fight against international terrorism was among the main directions of Russian-NATO co-operation. According to him, practical activities in this area, based on the mutual understanding of the priority of preventing terrorist attacks, are aimed at implementation of the decisions adopted at the Russia-NATO Council's 2nd conference held in Moscow last December.

Contacts between Russia and NATO in non-strategic anti-missile defence are expanding, the minister informed. "We have set up a special working group for theatre missile defences, have endorsed its mandate and agenda till 2005, and defined the main directions of joint activities," he explained.

At the same time, the list of tasks Russia and NATO are facing "is not limited by these spheres of co-operation, but also includes such issues as concept of equal peacekeeping operations, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and means of their delivery, arms control and utilisation of ammunition ", Ivanov pointed out.

All these problems require permanent attention, as "they have direct influence on the process of shaping the architecture of Euro-Atlantic security," he believes. However, Russia "is still seriously anxious about a potential threat to the balance of force in Europe which grows as states that have not signed the CFE Treaty are joining NATO", the minister said.

Russia welcomed NATO intention to encourage ratification of the agreement on the CFE adaptation when admitting new members to the alliance, Ivanov emphasised. At the same time, this problem requires efficient practical action and should not be connected with issues not related to the CFE Treaty, he believes.

Russia proposes that all CFE member states, as well as countries ready to join it, should "take exact political commitments to be reserved about building the current potential of their conventional forces on the territory from the Atlantic till the Urals," the Russian minister said.

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