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Russia backs Schroder on NATO Reform Proposals

Russian MFA Information and Press Department Commentary Regarding a Media Question Concerning FRG Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's NATO Reform Proposals

Question: How is the debate caused by FRG Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's proposals on reforming NATO, which were presented at the recent international security conference in Munich, being viewed in Russia?

Commentary: We did, of course, take note of the ideas brought forward at the Munich Conference on behalf of the FRG Chancellor as to reform at NATO and have been closely watching the response to them and the comments of German officials.

As can be understood, at issue right now is not a coherent concept of reforming this military-political alliance, but just a proposal to comprehend what is happening and to bring the multinational structure responsible for defense and security into accordance with today's realities. We have to specify at once that Russia is not a member of the alliance and for understandable reasons is not going to participate in the intra-NATO debate.

At the same time we are convinced that the tasks of establishing a truly comprehensive security system are beyond any single organization, however powerful it may be. There is a need for the combining of efforts by all the main players active in the Euro-Atlantic region, including, naturally, Russia, the European Union, the OSCE, the Council of Europe, the CIS, and the Collective Security Treaty Organization, and to achieve this without a definite adaptation and the creation of new instruments of cooperation (which is, for example, the Russia-NATO Council) is impossible.

As to the transformation of NATO, we think that it has a great significance for international security and stability. According to our observations, the process is moving generally in the right direction: departure from the classical territory defense tasks of the Cold War period towards the adaptation of the structures and capabilities of the alliance for the fight against the new threats of terrorism, WMD and so on. But at the same time we have also noted quite a few inconsistent, half-hearted decisions made as though by inertia, looking back at the instructions and precepts of the distant past. On the whole the alliance is still very far from full-fledgedly tackling the security tasks of today. Consequently, the mechanical enlargement of the alliance is incapable of doing that, either. In this connection it is incomprehensible to us that the countries which have recently joined NATO should be talking about NATO as a comprehensive guarantor of security.

Two aspects in Schroeder's proposals have not escaped our attention. His idea of convening a high-level group of experts and personalities is consonant, it seems to us, with what was done in NATO at the end of the 1950s, and then at the end of the 1960s. Accordingly the report of the Committee of Three (1956) and the Harmel Report (1967) constituted turning points in NATO history. In this regard, we are for a serious new turn to be made in trans-Atlantic relations in the interest of promoting stability and security for all states.

The second proposal concerns fostering a truly strategic partnership with Russia, without which he emphasized the security of the European continent is unachievable. It seems to us that the Russia-NATO Council set up almost three years ago, which rests on a political dialogue and constructive nonpoliticized cooperation in the struggle against new threats, is an innovative scheme corresponding to the present-day realities and present-day requirements in the field of security.


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