Source Pravda.Ru

Northern Europe to be proving-ground for Russia-NATO relations

The Russian Defense Ministry is concerned about the new NATO members countries, which are not members of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE), Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said in St. Petersburg in an address to his counterparts from the northern European countries. (The defense ministers of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and the deputy defense minister of Iceland participated in the meeting.)

"It is noteworthy that Russia showed restraint in reacting to NATO's expansion and the deployment of foreign troops at Russia's borders, though this fact worries us," the minister said.

He specifically mentioned the Baltic States. "The deployment of foreign troops in their territories while these countries are not members of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty is a serious problem for the regional security of northern Europe."

According to him, ensuring military stability and security in any region, including northern Europe, is "a two-way street."

The lack of attempts to take Russia's interests in the ratification of the CFE into consideration will not contribute to the development of relations with Europe, the defense minister said.

"In Moscow's opinion," the minister noted, "relations between European states must continue to be based on the sovereign equality of the states, their territorial integrity, the inviolability of their borders, not using or threatening the use of force, not interfering with internal affairs and observing human rights."

"We sincerely hope that at this forum, the participants will not only talk about the preservation of stability in the region but also map out concrete ways for further rapprochement in solving regional security problems," Mr. Ivanov said.

The Russian minister said that northern Europe must become a proving-ground for working out confidence building and cooperation measures between Russia and NATO in the spheres of military and politics.

The minister said that Russia was ready to take part in creating an effective regional security model for Europe.

"Such a model must be formed on the basis of the development of the preventive and stabilizing role of political measures for the prevention and settlement of crises as well as on the basis of strengthening the potential of all-round cooperation, including in the military sphere," the minister said.

"We regard our cooperation with northern European countries as an appreciable factor of European and global stability," Mr. Ivanov said.

Since the end of the cold war, northern Europe was a zone of low tension. "Russia is directly interested in preserving this situation in the future, too," the minister concluded.