Five years ago at the Paris summit first president of Russia Boris Yeltsin and the leaders of 16 countries - the then members of the North-Atlantic alliance signed the Russia - NATO Founding Act.
This document was a result of the intensive talks on the establishment of new relations of partnership between Russia and NATO on the threshold of the extension of the alliance to the east.
In keeping with the Founding Act, a consultative body - the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council (PJC) - was set up, and the permanent diplomatic representation of Russia at NATO and the permanent military representation as part of it were established. This made for more effective cooperation between Russia and NATO in the peace-keeping operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and for the broadening of contacts both within the Partnership for Peace programme and beyond it.
But in 1999, as a result of the NATO military operation against Yugoslavia in connection with the crisis in Kosovo, Russia-NATO relations were frozen, and the process of partnership development was halted. After the "unfreezing" relations all the same developed rather slackly.
The developments of September 11th, 2001 in the USA and Russia's siding with the international anti-terrorist coalition gave a fresh impetus to the deepening of partnership between Russia and the western military alliance. The documents on a new mechanism for relations will be signed at the Russia-NATO summit in Italy on May 28th. The Russia-NATO Council at 20 is to replace the consultative PJC which operated in the 19+1 format. Within a certain circle it will be a joint decision taking body.
The Founding Act has not exhausted itself and remains the basic document of relations between Russia and NATO.