HomeNEWS AND MEDIA200421 June 2004 - Press Communique: NATO AND RUSSIAN LEGISLATORS PLEDGE BUILDING OF “TRUE PARTNERSHIP”
21 June 2004 - Press Communique: NATO AND RUSSIAN LEGISLATORS PLEDGE BUILDING OF “TRUE PARTNERSHIP”
Meeting in Moscow on 17-18 June, members of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and of the Russian State Duma discussed issues of common concern such as the common fight against terrorism, weapons proliferation, and the role of the Russian media. Some 45 legislators from three Assembly Committees, led by Peter Viggers of the United Kingdom, Franco Angioni of Italy, and Pierre-Claude Nolin of Canada, held intensive discussions with their Russian counterparts, led by Lubov Sliska, First Deputy Speaker of the Duma.
Discussions among parliamentarians were generally frank and constructive, highlighting differences as well as convergence on key security issues. Duma members voiced their concerns about the consequences of the recent NATO enlargement, notably the fact that Alliance aircraft were now patrolling Baltic air space. The Russian representatives were concerned that this issue, in combination with NATO out-of-area operations, could jeopardize agreement on Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE). Russian legislators also expressed criticisms at NATO policies in Kosovo, where they felt KFOR had not done enough to avoid violence against ethnic Serbs last March.
NATO PA members were particularly concerned about the situation of the media in Russia. A presentation by Konstantin Eggert, head of the BBC office in Moscow, indicated that while radio and newspapers in Russia offered sufficiently balanced information, television news broadcasts could not be considered truly free and objective because of widespread government control. As Mr Eggert pointed out, the overwhelming majority of the Russian population relies on TV as the principal source of information.
NATO and Duma legislators came to general agreement, however, following a presentation by Russian arms control expert, Sergey Rogov, based on a recent joint report by the Rand Corporation and the US and Canada Institute on the future of NATO-Russia relations. Most participants agreed with the recommendations of the report outlining some areas in which NATO-Russia relations could be enhanced, notably by increasing the engagement of Russian and allied civilian and military personnel in the respective headquarters; by further developing military-to-military relations; by enlarging common civil emergency planning; by increasing cooperation on crisis areas such as Afghanistan, the South Caucasus region, and Central Asia.
In conclusion, all participants agreed that NATO's basic approach to Russia should make "inclusion as the rule and exclusion as the exception". After years of cooperation, NATO and Russia should really build up, as Assembly Vice-President, Pierre Lellouche, emphasised in his concluding remarks, "a true partnership".