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 Munich Conference on Security,.
                         3 February 2001


Speech by Lord G. Robertson

 The Balkans have also been a successful proving ground for another significant partnership - that of NATO and Russia. The highly successful cooperation with Russia on the ground in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo is a practical manifestation of what Russia and the west can do by working together.

In two weeks, I will go to Moscow to open the NATO Information Office in Moscow - my second visit to Russia in just over a year. We already have a solid foundation of cooperation in peacekeeping in the Balkans. And we are exploring other areas such as search and rescue at sea, civil emergency planning, and what I hope will be the establishment of a Military Liaison Mission in the not too distant future. Although we have a long way to go, I am optimistic that NATO and Russia are finally exploiting the potential to be real partners in security.

The trans-Atlantic community must also remain united in addressing the challenges posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. We heard from Don Rumsfeld about the U.S. commitment to addressing missile threats. The United States has made clear it intends to develop a missile defence system to address these threats. We have to take the sincerity and commitment of the United States seriously.

But we must also recognise that the U.S. is not alone in seeking to deal with the threats posed by missile proliferation. NATO is already engaged in a large-scale examination of extended air defence and theatre missile defence. And Russia has made its own proposals about developing a cooperative European theatre missile defence system. 

We all know there is a security problem out there. The world has changed substantially since the early 1970's. So we must get on with addressing this problem with maturity and realism. That is why I welcome the U.S. commitment to putting this issue on the agenda, and to consulting closely with its Allies on how best to find a common response.

 Finally, let me say that we must recognise that the trans-Atlantic community, as strong and effective as it is, remains a work in progress. From its very beginning, the trans-Atlantic relationship has been about building a Europe that is secure, free, prosperous, and undivided. This vision is not complete, however, unless all of Europe, including Russia, is part of the picture. 

It is no secret that Russia worries about future NATO enlargement. But let me say that the NATO enlargement process is not about encircling or excluding Russia. On the contrary, it is about fulfilling the promise of building a stable, secure, democratic Europe - something that benefits all its inhabitants and all its neighbours. Such a stable democratic Europe is the best neighbour Russia could hope for - as the most recent round of NATO enlargement demonstrated. Indeed Russia itself may someday decide that it, too, wishes to be a full part of this family, and NATO has never said "no" to that possibility.