Interview with Tatyana Parkhalina
Russia Today: Where do NATO and Russia go from here?
Tatyana Parkhalina: I think that both sides have no alternative but to co-operate. We should be partners in spite of disagreements and problems. From my point of view, it is quite natural that both sides have problems. By the way, the problem arose not only between Russia and NATO, but among NATO allies. What is important is how we face these problems. Of course, Russia has certain concerns – the CFE treaty, the American ABM system in Europe, the future status of Kosovo and some others. At the same time, NATO tries to reply somehow, tries to explain its position – not only Washington but NATO as well. In fact, NATO is extremely interested in co-operation with our country because of the very complicated situation in Afghanistan and the very complicated situation in the Greater Middle East. Russia needs NATO. It is defined by the absolutely new character of threats and no country, even so big and powerful as the U.S., can elaborate adequate answers to these security threats in the coming years. So, we should co-operate.
RT: What confidence-building measures are necessary to enhance relations between Russia and NATO, and how can we resolve the issues of Kosovo and American ABMs?
T.P.: None of these very acute problems have been resolved in the last two years and that can be explained. To resolve them we need, first of all, the political will. According to my understanding, the leaders of Russia and NATO realise very well that they need joint measures and co-operation. By the way, let’s not forget that not very long ago the Russian State Duma ratified the very important Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). We approved measures aimed at greater inter-operability between NATO and Russian forces. So there are concrete steps aimed at future partnership in the areas of the military-to-military, anti-terrorism and non-proliferation. We have a joint concept of peacekeeping operations already, and have similar views on many other issues which were defined in the Rome Declaration five years ago. But we need deeper institutionalisation of our relationship. The NATO-Russia Council (NRC) is a very good instrument. For the first time we have institutions in our relationship with NATO. Not being a NATO member, Russia has rights and obligations on certain issues, similar to those of NATO members. But I think we need some prominent body inside the NRC. And what we need more – we need a NATO-Russia public forum or a NATO society forum that could integrate the representatives of Academies, think-tanks, the business community, journalists, parliamentarians, etc. At such a forum all sides could discuss problems, could help politicians solve problems in the future, and could prepare the expertise for helping politicians solve the problems among them.