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3 Apr, 2008 18:50

Interview with Dmitry Rogozin

Bucharest is hosting its first NATO summit this week. Dmitry Rogozin, Russia's envoy to NATO, commented on the results of the summit for RT.

Russia Today:What was really discussed at the NATO summit meetings, and what was the result of these discussions?

Dmitry Rogozin: Well, we weren’t present there – the NATO Council meetings take place behind closed doors, in an atmosphere of confidence and trust. As far as we know, though, the discussion was tough, and led by major European countries. They don’t believe now is the right time to make final decisions on MAPs to Ukraine and Georgia in Bucharest. It’s most likely they’ll decide to leave the doors open but delay the final decision until later, for instance, until the end of the year, when foreign ministers of NATO countries will meet and review this question. Personally, I don’t think we’ll see any serious changes either in Ukraine or Georgia during this time. What can you do during in six months: in Georgia’s case to solve the territorial disputes, or in Ukraine’s case to make people love NATO? I really doubt that this will happen.

RT: What do Germany and France base their position on when they say Ukraine and Georgia are not yet ready to join NATO?

D.R.: There are a number of factors. One of the most important factors is the domestic situation in these countries. In Ukraine the majority of the population is against joining NATO. Love can’t be forced, you know. No means no. In Georgia the situation is different. NATO doesn’t want anyone else’s headaches, like the so-called ‘frozen conflicts’.

The second factor they’re obviously considering is that nobody wants to make Russia angry. We’ve said a firm ‘no’ because we think it could destabilise the situation on our borders and it seems our opinion has been taken into account. Third, the more NATO expands by embracing either countries of the former Warsaw Treaty Organisation or ex-Soviet republics, the larger the block spreading Washington’s propaganda. The European democracies don’t always like that. They have their own point of view on the European security policy, and they don’t want Washington ‘boy scouts’, like the fresh NATO members, to keep hammering out decisions without coordination with Europe. Decisions on Ukraine and Georgia are not a simple ones. Of course, NATO will continue to stress that NATO’s doors are open to everybody, and simply shutting them in front of Ukraine and Georgia is out of the question.

RT: What are the other future prospects for NATO development? Yesterday Jaap de Hoop Scheffer mentioned talks about Israel and a number of other countries joining NATO.

D.R.: You know, even penguins and polar bears can now join NATO. Joking aside, though, I don’t think it is a rational approach. If you want to have an alliance that’s well organised, disciplined and mobile in facing modern challenges, it shouldn’t swell with countries which are internally even less ready for such discipline. What’s happening now can be called a substitution of notions. NATO is taking on the role of the UN more and more. This isn’t right – not because of what we think, but because it isn’t right for NATO itself. Less is more.

RT: Will NATO try to limit its membership or will it continue expanding in the future?

D.R.: Even if we the Bucharest summit had made a positive decision on Ukraine and Georgia, it would still be some 10-15 years before they actually join the alliance. It’s 50 years in Israel’s case. Well, we shall see what we shall see. Today, there’s no use speaking about the expansion of NATO into the Middle East…

RT: What about Moldova and Transdniester?

D.R.: Moldova, Transdniester, Serbia… This is more fiction than reality.

RT: What about Russia-NATO relations? Will Friday’s meeting result in any global decisions?

D.R.: Afghanistan, I believe, is a very real contact point, and very important for NATO. The alliance’s military contingent has not had much success in Afghanistan. It’s impossible to solve any problems there without Russia’s input, especially considering Russia’s rich military experience in the region, both positive and negative. Other issues are more problematic: the future of the American AMD initiative, the CFE treaty, Kosovo – we’re likely to see more tough discussions here.

RT: Could you speak more on the cooperation in Afghanistan?

D.R.: Tomorrow we’re hoping to see an exchange of letters which will signify Russia’s sovereign decision, a goodwill act, to provide assistance to International Security Assistance Forces in Afghanistan by enabling the transfer of non-military ISAF cargo through the Russian territory.

We won’t get involved in any military conflicts in the region. Been there, done that – didn’t like it. Still, we understand that the resolution of the UN Security Council should be backed. We have great potential for such support, and we’re ready to help with the cargo necessary to provide essential living conditions for the contingent deployed in the region. We’re speaking about railroad transportation of non-military cargo.

RT: What does Russia expect from relations with NATO?

D.R.: Partnership – the essence of the relations between Russia and NATO boils down to this.

The security of NATO members cannot be achieved at the expense of the security of the Russian Federation or vice versa.

The partnership always involves mutual consideration of the national interests between the partners.

RT: What does NATO expect from relations with Russia?

D.R.: Up until now the military block of NATO has been spreading like an oil slick where there was no other power.

It's always like that in international relations -there's never a vacuum – it is always filled with another more dynamic power. So it's been travelling east until it clashed with Russia's interests because we obviously don't want someone else's war machine to be parked near our gates.