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Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Grushko interview on NATO, 2 July 2009

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Grushko's Interview 'We're Intrigued by NATO's New Menu,' Rossiiskaya Gazeta, 2 July 2009.

Question: Will it not happen so that NATO starts within the resumed Council to use the "services" of Russia - like, for example, transit of supplies to Afghanistan - while proposals raised by the Russian side are automatically put down as dead-end ones?

Alexander Grushko: We said absolutely clearly that real cooperation is impossible if our partners regard the agenda of Russia-NATO relations as a sort of menu where you can choose dishes according to your taste, disrespecting your partner's interests. The main discussion was just about this, but generally we got the impression that the legitimate concerns of Russia were not only heard but would also be heeded. Otherwise it won't be full-blown cooperation.

Besides, we drew our colleagues' attention to the fact that the nature of Russia-NATO relations will depend largely on the evolution of the alliance. So long as NATO conceals from other partners the very process of articulation of its tasks in a global context, there will appear in the Euro-Atlantic space new dividing lines that will hinder mutual cooperation on real common threats to our security.

At the same time we were promised that the process of articulation of NATO's new strategic concept would become more transparent. Russian representatives are invited to a seminar where these issues will be discussed. We hope that there will be no surprises anymore - because one of the principles of NATO-Russian cooperation is predictability. Unless there is predictability, there can be no long-term projects.

Of course we did not sidestep other topics. NATO, regrettably, took a very obstructionist stance on the adapted CFE Treaty. For ten years it had refused to ratify this document under farfetched pretexts. Not so long ago, in May, the Russian Federation tabled new proposals as to what needs to be done to keep it viable in a changing security environment. We hope that our partners will take them seriously. The first reaction is encouraging.

Russia is keen to continue the arms control process; for it helps assure security at less cost. Besides, arms control allows political dimensions to be translated into the language of numbers - deployments, amounts of equipment in designated areas and places. The very process of comparing potentials and counter potentials, military doctrines and military intentions is a very important confidence building measure. It gives both the politicians and military a feeling of involvement in determining a common security context for us all.

The future of European security lies only in the unification of efforts. This is the aim behind of our President's initiative for a European Security Treaty. We will push for the implementation in practice of the principles onto which both Russia and all NATO countries signed. The Helsinki Final Act and the Charter for European Security alike say that security is indivisible, that no state can strengthen its security at the expense of the security of other states and that no single state, or group of states, regards any part of Europe as its exclusive responsibility or will seek to dominate there. All these elements must become the basis for developing relations between Russia and NATO.

Question: Was the problem of the alliance's eastward expansion discussed in the Russia-NATO Council?

Alexander Grushko: The recent events in Transcaucasia have again shown that NATO's expansion creates cracks. It is obvious that if there had been no encouraging gestures from Brussels that Saakashvili felt, he would never have decided on an adventure - to demonstratively and grossly violate the principles onto which Georgia had signed. I mean both the fundamental principles of the OSCE and the obligations Georgia had assumed not only as a member of the UN and the Council of Europe, but also in its bilateral relations with NATO and the European Union. For it is well known that all the documents that determined the basis for cooperation between Georgia and NATO and between Georgia and the European Union begin with the very simple postulates that conflicts can be resolved solely by peaceful means.

This is a flagrant example of how an encouraging policy ignoring the realities and built on the "our/their" principle led eventually to such grave consequences for European security. Hopefully the NATO countries will draw a lesson and will not in the future unrestrainedly support so called partners out of exclusively ideological preferences.

We therefore propose to clear our relations with NATO of all ideological accretions. It is necessary to try to understand each other and work honestly on the issues of security where we really have common interests. Even at the most difficult time we did not cease to render support to the NATO troops which form the backbone of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan by providing corridors for military and nonmilitary transit. We intend to act so in the future as well.

Question: Is a further schedule of Russia-NATO Council meetings drawn up?

Alexander Grushko: The next ambassadorial-level meeting is slated for late July; then we're into the summer recess. But the working groups will continue to work. Hopefully military contacts will be resumed. This ought to impart proper stability to the entire work of the Council.

As to the next foreign ministers meeting, the schedule is known. No surprises here. All our events take place in early December. It is the so called winter session when the foreign ministers meet. Defense ministers may also meet in the autumn. But we'll have to wait and see.

Question: How likely is it that Russia may be deprived of the right to vote in the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly even this autumn at Georgia's suggestion?

Alexander Grushko: I can't imagine a Council of Europe without Russia, because this organization would then play a subordinate role to the EU. Nevertheless, we note with concern that on a whole array of issues of great significance for Russia, politicized approaches and double standards are manifesting themselves in the activities of the Council of Europe and some of its entities.

Russia has never been shy of telling about the existence of such tendencies. And so as a full-fledged Council of Europe member we shall defend our lawful interests and use all the means at our disposal to promote the goals and objectives for which this international organization was created.

Question: It is known that sometimes informal meetings produce greater results than official talks. How useful was the OSCE foreign ministers meeting on Corfu?

Alexander Grushko: It certainly was useful. A sufficiently frank discussion took place. Such a broad discourse on major European security aspects had long been due. We welcome the fact that our partners have begun to show serious interest in the ideas and suggestions brought forward by the Russian Federation. We are certain that the Russian project, if viewed not through ideologized spectacles, will necessarily carve its way.

Source: Russian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, www.russianembassy.org.

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