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In attempting to place the NATO-Russia relationship on a sound footing, therefore, it is important to examine where, when and how it has turned sour in the past and to determine whether certain lessons can be learned for the future. Such an analysis should perhaps have been made earlier. But until very recently, it was precluded by the political baggage weighing on the NATO-Russia rela- tionship in general and the functioning of the PJC in par- ticular.

ing of the NATO-Russia Founding Act. From the moment Primakov took charge of the foreign ministry, Russia’s for- eign and security policy became more cohesive and assertive. Indeed, one objective underlying the NATO- Russia Founding Act was that of ensuring that Russia had a voice in the key Euro-Atlantic security institutions and influence on their decision-making processes. Since the PJC was supposed to include mechanisms for both joint decision-making and joint action, Russia viewed it as an opportunity to exert such influence.

To appreciate fully the current situation and to assess the nature of the difficulties that have to be overcome, the NATO-Russia relationship has to be viewed in its his- torical context. It is, after all, only a little over a decade since the end of the Cold War and attitudes from that period have continued to influence thinking. Although some individuals at the very top of Russian society were eager to pursue a pro-Western agenda in the early 1990s, many senior officials found it difficult to come to terms with the demise of both the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union and the loss of super-power sta- tus that this entailed. Indeed, in many cases, they found it humiliating to have to continue to deal with NATO, the “victorious Cold War adversary”, as they saw it. Many in Russia viewed NATO’s very continued existence as a betrayal. If the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact – the “threats” NATO was formed to counter – had ceased to exist, they wondered, why was a Western military alliance still neces- sary? Despite early optimism, however, it rapidly became clear that the PJC was not functioning as intended. Some of the PJC’s shortcomings could be attributed to cultural differences. NATO functions on the basis of consensus and has therefore always had a bottom-up approach to collaboration. This presupposes an ongoing process of informal consultations among the Allies’ Permanent Representations at NATO headquarters in order to smooth the way towards agreement, including, in some instances, agreement to avoid particular areas of discord. Despite promoting the PJC, however, Primakov decided not to establish a permanent presence at NATO headquarters. This decision, when viewed in conjunction with Moscow’s top-down approach to collaboration, was critical, as it severely limited potential Russian par- ticipation in this consensus-building process. The terrorist attacks against the United States have given NATO-Russia relations added impetus, but the roots of a better relationship pre-date 11 September An even greater obstacle, however, was the reluctance on both sides to overcome Cold War stereotypes. Russia, driven by Primakov’s aspiration to restore his country’s great-power sta- tus in a “multi-polar” world, remained focused on obstruct- ing Alliance solidarity. Allies responded by requiring that no discussion with Russia could proceed without a formal- ly agreed NATO position. For the Russians, denied the opportunity to influence Alliance policies before decisions had been taken, the “nineteen-plus-one” format became “nineteen-versus-one”, and NATO-Russia exchanges often amounted to no more than repetitions of well-known posi- tions. The PJC ceased meeting early in 1999, when Russia walked out in protest over NATO’s decision to wage an air campaign to stop ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. This freezing of NATO-Russia relations was, however, above all confir- mation of pre-existing difficulties in the relationship and diverging approaches to the PJC. As Russia struggled to integrate itself into Western institutions and eco- nomic hardship dashed the dreams of capitalist prosperity for ordinary Russians, disillusionment set in. At the same time, NATO failed to find the right tone for developing its relationship with Russia and was there- fore unable to convince the Russian bureaucracy of its pos- itive intentions. Russian foreign and defence ministry offi- cials were disappointed to find themselves treated no differently than their counterparts from former Warsaw Pact countries and other former Soviet constituent republics in the North Atlantic Cooperation Council, the predecessor of today’s Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC). The decision by Allied leaders, at the 1994 Brussels Summit, to reaffirm that NATO’s door was open to new members, followed by the commissioning of a Study on Enlargement in 1995, contributed further distrust to the relationship. In Russian eyes, not only had NATO outlived the threats that had given birth to it, but it was also expanding its military and political influence ever closer to the Russian border. Although the terrorist attacks against the United States and the process of building an international coalition against terrorism have certainly given the NATO-Russia relationship added impetus and injected a sense of urgency into discussions, the roots of a better relationship pre-date 11 September. Already at the beginning of 2000, the The appointment of Primakov as foreign minister in 1996 was a turning point and led within a year to the sign-

20 NATO review

Winter 2001/2002

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