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Towards a new strategic partnership

Willem Matser examines NATO-Russia relations in the wake of 11 September and the prospects for improved cooperation.


Moscow meeting: The rapprochement of recent months has made it possible to bring far-reaching proposals to the table

ew events bring people together more effectively than a tragedy and few tragedies have been greater or their consequences more wide-reaching than that of 11 September. In addition to the several thousand Americans who lost their lives, close to 800 citizens of other NATO countries and nearly 100 Russians died as the twin towers of the World Trade Center collapsed, watched live on television by millions around the world. In the wake of this shared disaster, the unity of purpose of Allies and Russia in the face of a common threat has been a key fea- ture of the international coalition’s war on terrorism. Moreover, the shuttle diplomacy, summits and flurry of new proposals of recent months have clearly opened up great opportunities for closer cooperation and a deeper relationship between NATO and Russia. F

It is not, of course, the first time that expectations for NATO-Russia relations have been so great. In 1997, by

Willem Matser works in NATO’s Office of the Special Adviser for Central and Eastern Europe.

signing the NATO-Russia Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security, the heads of state and government of NATO and Russia committed themselves to “the goal of overcoming the vestiges of earlier confronta- tion and competition and of strengthening mutual trust and cooperation, thus marking the beginning of a fundamen- tally new relationship between NATO and Russia and intending to develop a strong, stable and enduring partner- ship”. Moreover, the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council (PJC) was created to provide “a mechanism for consultations, coordination and, to the maximum extent possible, where appropriate, for joint decisions and joint action”.

Since then, NATO-Russia relations have seen many highs and lows. In the course of this journey, the many personalities involved have played their part, as have shifting political paradigms and pressing security challenges, including the Balkan conflicts, the first Chechen War, NATO’s Kosovo campaign, the second Chechen War and now the international coalition’s war on terrorism.

Winter 2001/2002

NATO review 19

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