The signing of the Rome Declaration on Tuesday is "only the first step to building a brand new relationship" between Russia and NATO, an informed source in the Kremlin told RIA Novosti. According to him, a number of principled elements will be registered in this document. "First of all," he noted, "the Russia-NATO Council, as distinct from the Permanent Joint Council, will be a mechanism of equal cooperation of twenty states acting in their national capacity." This means that the participants will together evolve, agree upon and, what is particularly important, implement decisions on questions of mutual interest.
The list of the concrete international problems which will be on the agenda of the Russia - NATO Council has been finalized, the source stressed. "It includes first of all countering international terrorism and other risks and challenges to security in the 21st century, non-proliferation of mass-destruction weapons, anti-crisis reaction, joint peace-keeping, and emergency civil planning", he noted. It was also agreed that this list will be renewed and extended as the Council goes on working.
"Of course, we understand that in the sphere of defence Russia and NATO possess historically established mechanisms and structures which it is impossible to reduce to the same denominator at once and in full", he went on to say. "That is why we are not raising and are not going to raise in the foreseeable future the question of Russia's membership of the alliance. Nor do we claim 'the right to veto" actions of the alliance, just as NATO itself cannot claim such a right with regard to Russia".
For all that, "the establishment of the Russia-NATO Council does not mean that now we hold identical views on all the questions of security", the source emphasized. "It concerns, in particular, the theme of possible extension of NATO which we in no uncertain terms qualify as an error", he pointed out. "From our point of view, the extension will not add to security of anyone - either of NATO itself, or of its new members". In his opinion, "there are no objective reasons for NATO's advancement to the Russian frontiers". "Whom does NATO intend to defend the new members of the alliance from? And what is such defence is needed for in general if we are not adversaries any longer, and the epoch of confrontation has become a thing of the past?" the interlocutor asked.
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