Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday, May 29, 2002
Russia Partners with Nato
NATO and Russia lifted their once-hostile relations to a new level of partnership today at a landmark summit near Rome.
They immediately used their combined weight to urge India and Pakistan to back off from the threshold of war.
Leaders of the erstwhile Cold War adversaries, including US President George W Bush and Russian head of state Vladimir Putin, put their names to a joint declaration setting up a NATO-Russia Council where Moscow and the 19 transatlantic allies can tackle key security issues as equals – notably terrorism, weapons of mass destruction and military cooperation.
“Our agreement today is a tribute to victims of terrorism throughout the world,” NATO Secretary General George Robertson told a joint press conference alongside Putin and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, the summit organiser.
“It’s also a stark message fron 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,” he said.
But the dominant area of concern during the 20 leaders’ working lunch was the real danger of India and Pakistan – both armed with nuclear weapons – reigniting a war over the disputed territory of Kashmir.
“The presidents and primes ministers strongly urge both sides to de-escalate and to resume talking together so that their problems can be resolved peacefully,” Robertson said.
“The 20 leaders will continue to work for this outcome,” he said, recalling that Putin would have the “goodwill” of the NATO allies when he saw the leaders of India and Pakistan in the Kazakh capital Almaty next week.
Today’s summit, organised in just three weeks and staged under intense security at Italy’s biggest air force base, an hour’s drive from Rome, was billed as the ultimate end to the Cold War that ended with the collapse of Communism in eastern Europe after 1989.
It was a major foreign policy success for Putin, who since taking power last year has been building bridges with the United States and western Europe to rebuild Russia as a global power.
It also reflected US appreciation for Russia’s support in the fight against global terrorism in the wake of the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington.
“This partnership takes us closer to an even larger goal – a Europe that is whole, free and at peace,” said Bush, who left the summit immediately after lunch for an audience with Pope John Paul II. (The Age)