16.12. 2010 The outcome of the Khodorkovsky and Magnitski cases will be seen as crucial for Russia's credibility as a NATO partner.

NATO  Summit debate with EU High Representative Catherin Ashton.

Speech by MEP Tunne Kelam, 15.12.2010


The enlargement of NATO can be seen as one of the few true post-Cold War success stories.  However, the momentum of enlargement has weakened - NATO has remained hesitant and not very active in opening up to Georgia or Macedonia. 

 

European military contributions have decreased alarmingly - very few NATO members meet the 2% GDP criteria for defence expenditure.  The Alliance has not conducted serious military exercises for more than a decade.  The last such exercise to prove that the USA could move troops rapidly into Europe took place 17 years ago, in 1993. 

 

True, the Soviet Union has collapsed, but Russia is not progressing toward true democracy and rule of law.  NATO's credibility and potential relies on US military might.  It is vitally important that NATO’s military institutions remain well integrated and that military commanders from America and Europe have the opportunity to practice together. 

Only under conditions of much closer and more determined trans-Atlantic cooperation will the EU and NATO be able to set a democratic international agenda during the next decade against the challenges of multilateral world.

I would also like to comment on the conclusions of NATO - Russia Council in Lisbon that called for a modernised partnership based on reciprocal confidence, transparency and predictability with the aim of creating a common space of security and stability.   

 

This may be taken as a declaration of goodwill, however such an approach is worlds away from reality.  We know that Russia's military doctrine views NATO’s expansion to Russia's “neighbourhood” as aggression and justifies preventative military strikes and landings on foreign territory.

Extensive military exercises in autumn 2009 in North-West Russia, close to the borders of the Baltic states, prepared for the invasion of these states as a counter-attack against presumed hostile NATO actions. 

It is positive that NATO contingency plans have been made for the defence of the Baltic States, as revealed by Wikileaks.

 

Georgia was invaded by Russia and two of its autonomous territories practically annexed.  Recently Russian missiles were deployed into these so-called break-away entities. 

 

We know that Russia continues massive spying in all Western countries.  Ironically, when such spies are exposed, it is the West, not Russia, that feels embarrassed. In fact Russia openly decorates its spies with highest state awards.

 

All this is far from confidence-building or transparency, not to mention predictability.

Therefore the Kremlin's insistence on equality of relations with NATO and on some sort of joint decision-making mechanism is extremely premature and carries a risk of Russian veto on NATO decisions and further enlargement.

 

Russia needs first to concentrate on its homework, establishing transparency and rule of law in its own state and also meeting its international commitments.  The outcome of the Khodorkovsky and Magnitski cases will be seen as crucial for Russia's credibility as a NATO partner.