Russia and the countries of the European-Atlantic zone are definitely interested in mutual cooperation, and the NATO is "one of the tools of such cooperation", chairman of the Federation Council's international committee Mikhail Margelov told RIA Novosti on Wednesday ahead of NATO Secretary General Lord George Robertson's forthcoming visit to Moscow.
"Today Russia has better relations with the NATO than with the European Union as the security issues form a more stable ground for a dialogue than problems of correlating mutual economic interests," he said.
"Thus, the NATO and the Russia-NATO Council are unique foreign-political tools, I believe," Margelov added.
The Russia-NATO Council set up in 2002 both envisages mutual consultations on common security problems and creates conditions for fulfilling joint programmes on fight against terrorism, prevention of weapons of mass destruction proliferation; anti-missile defence; joint actions in emergencies, the Senator pointed out.
"Definitely, the last three years have raised serious questions for the world community. On the one hand, after September 11th the international anti-terrorist coalition was set up in no time, we managed to demonstrate the union of will, efficiency of our actions and opportunities of real cooperation. On the other, significant disagreements arose due to the military operation in Iraq prepared and carried out by the United States", Margelov believes.
Threats for the Russian-NATO Council are obvious, he said. "These are old suspicions and failure to understand how much the world has changed. In my opinion, the NATO cannot be an institute, a kind of elder brother, to whom former USSR allies, East European countries appeal in a hope of receiving an additional tool to settle sometimes illusory mutual conflicts," the Senator explained.
"The NATO cannot be a tool of building new barriers either. The barriers created under the flag of a military organization have absolutely different consequences than traditional protectionist measures in economic relations between neighbours. They testify to unconquerable differences, which does not strengthen international security," he emphasized.
"The Russia-NATO Council has to become a tool that would settle arousing disputes both between its members and neighbours that cooperate with us within our common interests," Margelov pointed out.
"Thus, the Council has every chance of becoming a working mechanism of ensuring international security or a club of "Cold War witnesses". What way our cooperation will choose depends on the common will and readiness for concessions, but chances are fairly good," the Russian Senator concluded.