G.Robertson: Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is impossible to overstate the importance of this first summit meeting of the NATO-Russia Council.
Twenty countries as equal partners in a joint mission to make the world safer.
It draws the final curtain on half a century of mutual fear, hostility and mistrust.
It signals that yesterday's foes have become today's firm friends.
It rewards those of us who believe that the future can be better than the past.
Most importantly, it shows that cold warriors can become partners in building a better world.
The Rome Declaration of course has got many godparents. I cannot and will not list them all here today.
But I would like to profoundly thank Prime Minister Berlusconi for his foresight in proposing this summit meeting and for his and for the Italian people's generosity in arranging it.
I would also like to pay a particular tribute to President Vladimir Putin for his vision and courage in breaking the bonds of old policies and all politics.
When we spoke together in Moscow at the beginning of this negotiating process last November, the President said to me that if we were successful, we could change the world.
But we have been successful.
And I am confident that this new level of cooperation between NATO's members and Russia will now change the world and for the better.
Our agenda is challenging but we have mechanisms and the political will now to make it happen.
I like finally to remind everybody however of the most important godparents of this new NATO-Russia partnership.
They are the 3,000 victims of the terrorist attacks on the 11th of September last year.
We are here because these attacks changed people's minds and perspectives about the world in which we live, and its risks and its challenges.
Politicians, no matter how visionary, would not have moved so far, so fast without that horrific catalyst.
So our agreement today is therefore a tribute to the victims of terrorism throughout the world.
It is also a stark message from NATO and from Russia to all terrorists and their supporters, that their criminal violence has brought East and West together and has made us stronger.
They cannot win and they assuredly will not win.
But terrorism, of course, is not the only threat to safety in today's world.
In our working lunch today we discussed at some length the current crisis between India and Pakistan.
Today all 20 Presidents and Prime Ministers share a deep common concern about the situation and its risks not just for that region, but for the world.
The Presidents and Prime Ministers strongly urge both sides to de-escalate and to resume talking together as so that their problems can be resolved peacefully.
The 20 leaders will continue to work for this outcome.
President Putin has meetings in the next couple of days with EU-leaders in Moscow and that will be their message as well and President Putin also meets with the leaders of India and Pakistan in Almaty, Kazakhstan, next week.
And the goodwill of the other 19 leaders round the table for that meeting was extended to President Putin with an urging that the two leaders of India and Pakistan recognise their wider obligations to the world and sit down and talk peacefully and constructively about a way forward from this crisis.
All heads of state and government here today are committed and commit themselves to doing whatever is necessary to maintain and build peace in this highly important region in the world.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In Rome today, you will have seen for yourself the extraordinary new spirit invigorating the NATO-Russia relationship.
The new spirit of NATO-Russia cooperation has turned what was unthinkable into reality.
And the 20 countries in this NATO-Russia Council are now committed to translate this spirit unsure here today into a genuine equal partnership.
And I repeat: a genuine and equal partnership that can indeed change the world for the better.
As the first chairman of the new NATO-Russia Council I commit myself to making this new institution a success and keeping faith therefore with the expectations of those who believe that world leaders have a responsibility constantly to make the world safer and better for them to live in.
Thank you very much.
Vladimir Putin: Our present meeting with the NATO heads of state and government really opens, in our estimation, an entirely new chapter in relations between Russia and NATO. The document signed today for the creation of a Russia-NATO Council takes us to an absolutely qualitatively new and much higher level of cooperation. The changing situation in the world makes us realise the interdependence of vitally important security interests. These interests cannot be ensured separately. The unification of the potentials of our countries can and must become one of the decisive factors in shaping a new security framework for the 21st century. I spoke about this in detail on September 25 of last year when I addressed the Bundestag in Germany.
The Rome Declaration on the new quality of the relationship is a very important step towards the creation of truly partner-like relations between Russia and NATO, based on mutual respect of each other’s interests. We realise, however, that the views of Russia and NATO on certain security problems may not align in all respects. But we do know and are confident: what unites us is much stronger and more serious. The determination to counter new threats and challenges side by side should become the groundwork for future relations between Russia and NATO. From now on, a whole series of key problems will be considered and solved with the direct and equal participation of the Russian Federation within the Council at 20.
Russia and each of the NATO nations will act in their national capacities. This approach is called upon to be a guideline for the formation of a common European security space without dividing lines, which, in my view, is of fundamental importance.
Equally important is the fact that cooperation in the new council will be based on respect for the rules of international law and the Charter of the United Nations, as well as on the obligations under the Helsinki Final Act, Charter for European Security and other norm-setting documents of the OSCE.
Of course, with one document, which we have signed today, the complex history of Russia-NATO relations cannot be rewritten. Nor had we set ourselves such a task. But the results of work done instil confidence that cooperation with the alliance will really strengthen European security. It will aid, we have not the slightest doubt about this, in maintaining security and stability throughout the world.
Thank you very much for your attention.
Silvio Berlusconi: I am satisfied with the results achieved during today’s summit. We have attained a new level of relations. When I had a chance to talk with Mr Putin last year as the leader of Italy, which held the presidency of G8, he explained to me the nature of the problems which the Russian Federation faced in connection with NATO’s actions in the Balkans. I realised that before making a final decision on NATO enlargement at the upcoming Prague summit in November, we had to achieve a new level of relations with Russia. In terms of its history, its culture and Christian heritage Russia belongs to Europe; it is Europe. So it is quite logical that we can create a common European space from the Atlantic to the Urals. Today we are determining the face of the West from North America to the Urals.
I think that is our main achievement today. The achievement which spells dramatic changes for my generation in the global perspective. For decades we lived in the nightmare of confrontation between nuclear powers. Today, the international climate has changed and we must ensure a clearer and safer future for our relations. That is why I am convinced that the Rome Declaration which we have signed is historic. I think the new Council at 20 is a factor of stability, democracy and freedom for the whole world.
Today the 20 heads of state and government discussed not only the security of our countries. We also discussed the situation in the Balkans and the Middle East, and exchanged opinions on the dangerous situation in India and Pakistan. I suggested that during his meetings with the Indian and Pakistani leaders, Mr Putin could offer mediation on the behalf of all NATO countries which would then move beyond their traditional zone of responsibility in the interests of world peace.
One of the statements we adopted today has to do with terrorism and is addressed to the countries that support or finance it. We declared that we are one in opposing terrorism.
We must also declare that while the past century was a century of totalitarianism, Nazism, communism and the division of the European world, the new century must be an era of democracy and peace. There can be neither peace nor freedom without democracy. If we manage to spread the ideas of democracy all over the world, we will bring about an end to all conflicts and wars.
There are other problems in the world, one of them being poverty. We intend to come to grips with it. I presented a new plan of combating poverty to the G8 summit aimed at changing the situation where the donors’ aid to the poorest countries benefits the elites of those countries and not the ordinary citizens. Of course, these are not the topics that are directly within NATO’s sphere, but they interest the countries which are its members. I hope that a solution to these problems will be found at the next G8 summit and within the framework of the UN.
As a result of the agreements signed today, Russia has taken its legitimate place among Western democracies. I hope that over the coming years we will achieve still greater progress. Russia must join the European Union. I am aware that it will be a gradual process that will take some time, but I am deeply convinced personally that we must work towards that goal and that we will eventually achieve it. Europe will grow stronger by the presence of 144 million citizens of a great country. Europe will become a politically united institution that commands a due measure of authority in international relations. The union of course will be friendly and loyal towards the United States within the framework of NATO and the UN, and the parties will work together to strengthen peace, democracy and freedom on the planet.
I would like to single out Mr Putin’s special contribution, because despite the internal problems which he has faced, he has been brave enough to embark on the path of cooperation with NATO. I think the West has gained a lot from his participation in this summit. Mr Putin is a democrat, a liberal-minded politician, a Western man. He will manage to unite the destinies of his country, Europe and the West in the interests of all our countries and the whole of humankind.
Question: Mr Robertson spoke of the changes in the world, of the Council's plan of work, which is very ambitious and aims to enhance security. Please say, is this organisation going to be a body which will play a great role in the settlement of conflicts? And I would like to ask you, Mr Putin, if you are confident that democratic Russia will indeed be able to become a member of this alliance? Is that possible?
Vladimir Putin: I held a series of consultations with my colleagues not only in the Government but also in the country's regions, and held consultations with the leaders of practically all the political forces in the Russian Parliament. During these consultations, one of my colleagues recalled the phrase of Winston Churchill, who said approximately this: ”Russia was never as strong as it would like, but neither was it ever as weak as some thought.“ Russia always played a substantial role in world affairs, but the problem for our country was that over a long period of time a situation had developed in which Russia was on one side, and on the other – practically the rest of the world. There was also a time when we spoiled relations even with our great neighbour in the East, with the People's Republic of China. And no good came out of this confrontation between Russia and the rest of the world. And most of the citizens of my country understand this very well. Russia is now returning to the family of civilised nations. And it needs nothing but that its voice will be heard, that it will be reckoned with, and that its national interests will be considered and duly recognised. Russia is ready to act within the framework of international procedures and rules, within the framework of civilised dialogue for the attainment of common objectives. Those objectives are clearly formulated in the document which we have adopted today.
Question: Europe is beginning to jealously watch Russia's rapprochement with America and the dynamic evolution of Russian-American relations. In this regard, do you think the creation of the Russia-NATO Council will be able to alleviate such fears?
Vladimir Putin: As to jealousy on the part of Europe with regard to the development of relations between Russia and the United States, this question is to the wrong person, you'd better ask Mr Berlusconi. I somehow didn't notice any jealousy from him, frankly speaking. On the contrary, it seems to me that the development of relations between the world's largest nuclear powers, which the United States and the Russian Federation are, only strengthens mutual confidence on the European continent. Indeed, the just-concluded visit to the Russian Federation by US President George W. Bush was very successful. We saw the goodwill of the American President and his colleagues. And it ended with good results. We very highly assess them. I have not the slightest doubt that, among other things, this circumstance too helped achieve positive results at our meeting today. Anyway, we have always regarded the development of relations between the US and Russia and between Russia and NATO as a good bridge for the development of our contacts with united Europe and our other partners. Russia by virtue of its geopolitical position, as a European country, intends to pursue a balanced policy both in the East and in the West.
Not tomorrow, but already today we will have the opportunity to start consultations with them.
Question: Today much was said about the importance and historic significance of the declaration, about its being a turning point in relations between NATO and Russia. Recently the visit of US President George W. Bush to Russia ended successfully. At the same time Ukraine declared its readiness to join NATO. Please say how possible talks on Ukraine's entry into NATO could influence the development of relations between Russia and NATO? Thank you.
Vladimir Putin: Russia and Ukraine are developing their bilateral relations in a special way. These are close states which have originated from one family of Soviet republics. And in the last few years, relations between Russia and Ukraine have been developing particularly positively. So far as NATO expansion is concerned, you know our attitude to that question. It does not change, but this does not mean that Ukraine should stand aloof from the processes which are good for strengthening peace and security in Europe and on the Earth as a whole. We did not discuss this topic in detail. Ukraine is a sovereign state and has the right to choose the way of ensuring its own security itself – well, for example, participation in the Council which we have created today. This needs to be discussed with members of the Council, with members of NATO, with the Secretary-General. I consider this quite possible, and, in principle, do not see anything special here or something which would mar relations between Russia and Ukraine.
You know that only recently I met with President Kuchma and we have no doubts as to the intention of the Ukrainian leadership, of the Ukrainian people and the Ukrainian state to build relations with Russia in the best manner.
Question: Mr President, don't you think that by participating in the creation of the Russia-NATO Council, Russia is thus helping NATO as an obsolete structure to adapt to the new realities of European and world politics. If so, then why does Russia need this under the circumstances?
Vladimir Putin: We are helping, yes, I believe so. And we are doing so consciously. Doing it consciously, because in the world today the well established institutions, whose principal task, as formulated by them, is the maintenance of universal peace, is the coordination of efforts by the international community, by the participating countries for the maintenance of peace. In this sense we are ready to support NATO. This is why we agreed to the creation of the Russia-NATO Council, because we intend to actively participate in it. Moreover, as I said at lunch today, if the aims and tasks, which we have recorded in the declaration, are really implemented, then Russia will be interested in strengthening this organisation to the extent that we will all be solving the problems of safeguarding international peace, combating terrorism and ensuring the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction together.