NATO resumes ties with Russia

  • 2009-03-09
  • TBT staff

Foreign Minister Usackas meets with NATO leaders and U.S Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. Photo Courtesy NATO

VILNIUS - NATO member-state foreign ministers have agreed during an informalmeeting in Brussels to resume formal operations of the NATO-Russia council, saidLithuanian Foreign Minister Vygaudas Usackas.

"We had a lengthy and open conversation about the relations betweenNATO and Russia. I voiced my doubts whether the time has really come forresumption of the NATO-Russia Council. Nevertheless, we agreed that the councilshould be used as a form of dialogue with Russia on all issues includingproblem matters. If we want to make influence, we have to talk," Usackastold BNS after the three-hour meeting.

Usackas said that the participants of the meeting did not forget Russia'sfailure to meet the commitments with respect to Georgia.

"We drew the attention to withdrawal of troops, founding of bases andother matters. Concerns were voiced regarding Russia's relations with SouthOssetia and Abkhazia," said Usackas.

NATO foreign ministers will meet with officials of NATO hopefuls Georgia andUkraine in order to balance the situation and send clear positive signals, theLithuanian diplomacy chief said.

The first official meeting of Russian and NATO officials will take placeafter the NATO summit scheduled for early April. As a rule, the NATO-RussiaCouncil is a meeting place of ambassadors, however, sometimes meetings ofministers and heads of states and governments are also held.

Lithuania has been opposing resumption of the Alliance's officialcommunication with Moscow, the move was also criticized by the Czech Republic.However, renewal of high-level contacts between NATO and Russia was approved bymany major Western democracies including the United States.

The official NATO-Russia relations were frozen due to the brief armedconflict that broke out between Russia and Georgia last August, however,informal conversations were resumed in December 2008.