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Opening Remarks of NATO Summit

Aired May 28, 2002 - 04:41   ET


MARINA KOLBE, CNN ANCHOR: NATO and Russian leaders are opening their talks at an air base near Rome. The heads of state will sign a declaration establishing a new relationship with Russia on security issues.

Let's listen in to the opening remarks. NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson is speaking. Let's listen to him.


LORD GEORGE ROBERTSON, NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL: ... is a remarkable reversal of contemporary history.

The leaders of the world's most powerful nations assembled here, 20 of them, not to carve up the world but to unite it. Twenty nations, which stretch from Vancouver to Vladivostok, around one table addressing issues where common interests call for common solutions.

We meeting here today are a living contradiction of the forces which divided and weakened a continent for two generations. And for everyone who despaired during the frozen stretches of the Cold War, this gathering represents a hope of a better, saner future.

As a result of that, there are high expectations of all of us -- expectations that this will not just be another glitzy protocol event but a real breakthrough; expectations that the new NATO-Russia Council will not just talk but will act, not just analyze but prescribe, not just deliberate but take decisive action.

We have a profound obligation to ensure that these expectations are not disappointed. And if we require any reminder of why that it so, then there is a simple answer: There is a common enemy out there. The man and woman in the street, whether it be Petrova (ph) Street or 66th Street, knows it and feels it and they expect us to address is.

The 11th of September, 2001, brought death to thousands of people in one act of terrible, criminal violence. But it also brought a message to the leaders of the democratic world: Find solutions, and find them together.

Five years ago, NATO and Russia signed the founding act and created the Permanent Joint Council. It was enough then. It's simply not enough now. And that is why we are here as a new NATO-Russia Council. It's why we've created a new mechanism to facilitate the search for common ground and common understanding to meet common challenges and to stop that common enemy. We need a qualitatively better relationship and we need a new mind-set to make it happen.

So with that thought in mind, may I now ask you to adopt the declaration submitted to you by your foreign ministers after their meeting in Reykjavik entitled "NATO-Russians Relations: A New Quality."

LORD GEORGE ROBERTSON, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: And you have in front of you also a decision sheet -- a draft decision sheet. And in approving it, you are also deciding that the declaration takes effect upon the date of its signature. The members of the council will take the proper steps to ensure its implementation in accordance with their procedures.

The declaration is established in two originals, in the French, the English and the Russian languages. And that in my capacity as the chairman of the NATO-Russia Council, I will provide the secretary general of the United Nations and the secretary general of the OSCE with the text of this declaration, with the request to circulate it to all members of their organizations.

Is that agreed?

Thank you very much.

The Rome declaration and the decision sheet are hereby adopted, and thank you. The declaration we will sign at the end of this meeting, and it will be published this afternoon.

In making this decision, you have formally now brought into existence the NATO-Russia Council, where all members around this table will work together as equal partners.

Colleagues, I'm very conscious of the responsibility that I take on as the first chairman of the NATO-Russia Council. And I promise to you and to those who watch us outside today my full commitment to make this new council work and to work well.

But the success or the failure of this council will not be determined by me. It will be determined by you, the leaders of the NATO countries and Russia. So I ask you to tell your officials to work together in the logic of common interest. If they do, and only if they do, the NATO-Russia Council will work and fulfill the reasonable expectations of those who trust us with their security and with their safety.

I now have the pleasure to offer the floor to our host, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy.



KOLBE: ... Italian Prime Silvio Berlusconi obviously speaking in Italian, and his initial remarks just thanking everybody for attending. He is pleased to have everyone as his guest there in Italy. He's saying he's particularly happy to have this ahead of the Prague summit. And now he's currently talking about Mr. Bush and Mr. Putin.

Kelly Wallace is standing by. We can also continuing listening in to Silvio Berlusconi, and I'll give you translations of exactly what his -- the gist of what he's saying is.

BERLUSCONI: (speaking in Italian)

KOLBE: He's saying they've decided to have this summit here in Rome because it's a historic place.

He's talking about now he has decided -- they decided to be at an air base so they can have the maximum security.


KOLBE: Kelly, can you hear us?

WALLACE: Hey, Marina, can you hear me?

KOLBE: Yes, I can hear you.

Silvio Berlusconi is currently talking. He's talking about the tight security he was asked to obtain for this first NATO summit after September 11. What can you tell us from your side there?

WALLACE: Well a couple of things, Marina. This is clearly a significant moment. As we've been saying, NATO, of course, formed in 1949 to defeat the former Soviet Union. Now NATO members sitting around a table agreeing to a new partnership with Russia. NATO Secretary-General we heard, Lord George Robertson, some strong comments, though, saying that this should not be a glitzy political event, but a real breakthrough, not just talk, but action.

Now Russia will not be a formal member of NATO, but what it will get is a seat at the table. It will be involved in discussions on security issues such as dealing with terrorism; the proliferation of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons; and it could weigh in on some decision making.

The other significant thing, and it really plays off what Lord Robertson was saying, this is a crucial time, Marina, for NATO. NATO is going through some changes. President Bush coming here calling for NATO to modernize its capabilities to deal with the new threats, Lord Robertson saying as well that if NATO does not do that, it really won't have the relevance it needs to have in this new world order. So really an important moment when it comes to relations between the West and Russia, but also an important moment for NATO as well, Marina.

KOLBE: Kelly, now we return to listening in to the summit itself and hear what the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is saying.

BERLUSCONI (through translator): ... on behalf of all our citizens, we must all thank George and Vladimir, who came bearing gifts. They have brought with them the agreement signed the other day for the nuclear warhead reductions. It's a very important agreement, doing away with two-thirds of nuclear warheads, and that is a major result that has already been achieved.

Of course, a great deal remains to be done. We must only keep those nuclear arms that are necessary for our security.

And I would like to thank them on my own behalf, on behalf of everyone. I would like to acknowledge publicly the major work that you've been able to do in this field.

We have a new council today. Our first goal -- the first goal of this council is to guarantee the security and the defense of our people. We have to continue to fight and confront the new world -- the threat of terrorism, the threats represented by weapons of mass destruction or organized crime, narcotics trafficking.

We have to deal also with regional crisis, try to prevent these or else contain them should they arise. And for peacekeeping and peace-enforcement operations are (inaudible) also important. There is another area that is added now to the list. This is civil emergency planning.

Now these are the tasks that we have listed.

Sometimes children ask me, "What is your final, ultimate objective?" And I think that our objective should be to see to it that this century is the century of democracy and of peace. And it's only with the enlargement of democracy to those countries that don't have democracy as yet that we can -- and by preserving democracy in our own countries that we'll be able to say that we've raised a bulwark against any new conflicts.

Now I think those are the objectives that we should establish for ourselves -- spread democracy, strengthen our freedoms. If we retire into our Western shell, we'll never be able to reach these true objectives, because, in that case, liberty could wane and die. We are responsible and are keen on establishing liberty for all peoples. I think a strong message must be got across on this.

Sometimes I'm always asked, what is the major message of this type of meeting? It's not really a question of circulating documents. I think there are two major messages: one message for the men and women of our countries, who must be told that what we're doing here today is going to guarantee for you a calmer, serener and a better future. There's no longer any confrontation, there's no longer a nightmare scenario from the nuclear arsenals. The Russian Federation is with us, the West is side by side with the Russian Federation, and we have a more peaceful, serene future in front of us.

The second message: I think we have to send a very strong message to terrorists and those who harbor them, and tell them today that today we are stronger, to tell them "You will never be able to beat us, to vanquish us. So give up this madness."

I would like to thank you once again. Thank you, George. Thank you, George W. Thank you, Tony. Thank you, Vladimir.

I would like to thank you all, each and every one of you. It's a great honor for me to be able to welcome you here in Rome, and this meeting will remain for me during a long life. I hope this meeting will be one of my best memories.

Thank you very much.

ROBERTSON: It used to be said that Rome was not built in a day. We now know that it takes precisely 20.


I now turn to President Putin of the Russian Federation.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, heads of state and government.

First of all, I should like to extend my warmest thanks to our returning friends and to the prime minister of Italy, Mr. Silvio Berlusconi, for his hospitality and for the brilliant organization of this summit. And I can imagine how difficult it was to do, what has been achieved in such a short period.

The significance of this meeting is difficult to overestimate. Even only a very short time ago, a meeting of this type -- bringing together the leaders of Russia and NATO-member states -- especially bearing in mind the format in which we meet today and its quality, would have been simply unthinkable. Whereas, today, it has become a reality -- a reality which has been made possible thanks only to the hard work undertaken on all sides jointly and to the readiness to engage in committed and open dialogue.

Twenty influential states of the world here have taken cognizance of the commonality of deep-rooted security interests in a rapidly changing international environment.

KOLBE: And you've been watching opening remarks of the revised NATO-Russia Council.




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