Russia plays key role in ensuring security in Europe - Nato

THE HAGUE, April 13 (Itar-Tass) - Russia plays an important role in ensuring security in Europe, NATO Secretary-General George Robertson said.

Speaking in the Netherlands Atlantic Association on Thursday, Robertson said that NATO's operation in Yugoslavia caused tension in relations with Russia and it suspended contacts with the North Atlantic Alliance.

The secretary-general stressed that several analysts and journalists made wrong conclusions. One of them confirmed that Russia and the West will never resume relations and others said that Russia should not be trusted.

The Kosovo operation proves the importance and the great potential in relations between Russia and NATO, Robertson said, adding that Russia played an important role in the diplomatic process supported by NATO's air operation and completed on the conditions acceptable for the Alliance and Russia.

Robertson said that the Permanent Joint Council is an instrument for resuming dialogue and cooperation. Recently, the two sides held a sincere exchange of views on NATO's strategic concept and Russia's new national security concept, as well as on weapons control issues, he said.

Russia and NATO have many common interests -- from nuclear safety to weapons control and Kosovo shows that security in the Euro-Atlantic region became more solid when NATO and Russia cooperate together and trust each other, Robertson noted.

He recalled that during his recent visit to Moscow and his talks with Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin, he was pleased to hear that Putin considers Russia as a continent belonging to Europe.

The NATO secretary-general stressed the importance of further development of relations with Russia. At the same time, he said that NATO was right when it began military actions in Kosovo and stressed the need to strengthen the military potential of European NATO countries.

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