NATO Chief Says Medvedev’s Pact Unneeded

18.12.09

NATO Chief Says Medvedev’s Pact Unneeded

Источник: «The Moscow Times»

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen issued the clearest rebuff yet of President Dmitry Medvedev’s pet project for a new European security pact, saying it was not needed.

«I do not see a need for new treaties or legally binding documents because we do have a framework already», he told reporters Thursday.

As evidence, he listed the NATO-Russia Founding Act of 1997, the Rome Declaration of 2002 that set up the NATO-Russia Council, and the Charter for European Security.

Rasmussen, who was making his first visit to the country since assuming NATO’s top post over the summer, also said Ukraine and Georgia would eventually become members of the ­alliance and that Georgia’s territorial integrity needed to be fully respected.

Despite his remarks, which were unlikely to go down with the Kremlin, the outspoken former Danish prime minister was adamant that he would achieve the goal of his visit — to ­rebuild ties with Moscow that hit a post-Cold War low after the war in Georgia in August 2008.

In a trademark departure from the somewhat bureaucratic style of previous NATO leaders, Rasmussen recorded a video address from Red Square.

In the podcast, recorded late Wednesday and published on his web site, he stood in front of the Kremlin’s main gate and said there is «a new beginning in the relationship between NATO and Russia».

Wearing a black coat and gloves but no hat, the secretary-general mentioned the bitter temperature below minus 20 degrees Celsius, saying «the temperature is very low, but fortunately the temperature in the relationship is much better».

He argued that any differences should not distract from common threats faced by both sides, like terrorism and nuclear proliferation.

«My point is that these disputes should not paralyze us», he said.

In talks with Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, Rasmussen had asked for more military assistance in Afghanistan but failed to get any promises.

Medvedev, for his part, stressed that he raised his proposed European security pact during the talks.

Rasmussen on Thursday reiterated that NATO was prepared to discuss the proposal but that the right forum for that would be the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe, or the OSCE.

The Kremlin published a draft of the treaty last month, and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has presented the text to both NATO and the OSCE. But European leaders have given the plan a lukewarm reception, and analysts have warned that it would undermine NATO.

Rasmussen also denied that NATO had made any compromises in reaching rapprochement with Moscow. Asked about the status of Georgia’s separatist provinces, probably the most divisive issue, he said he had talked frankly about NATO’s position during Wednesday’s meetings.

«I made it clear that NATO insists on full respect of Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty», he said.

In an interview with Echo Moskvy late Wednesday, he also avoided any diplomatic beating around the bush when asked about Georgia’s membership chances.

«We have long ago taken the decision that Georgia and Ukraine will become NATO members», Rasmussen said, adding that the two countries had yet to carry out the reforms needed to gain membership.

The issue of NATO’s eastward expansion has irritated Moscow deeply, and Russia’s fear of losing its traditional sphere of influence was seen as one of the reasons behind the war over South Ossetia last year.

But Rasmussen dangled more candy in front of his hosts Thursday when he told students at the Moscow State International Relations Institute that he hoped to build a joint missile shield within a decade.

«By 2020, cooperation between NATO and Russia on missile defense will have advanced to the point where we are able to link our systems to create a genuine missile shield in the Euro-Atlantic area which will not only protect us all against proliferation, but bind us together politically as well», he said.

Nikolaus von Twickel


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