Allied states reaffirmed commitment to the open door policy during the NATO-Russia Council meeting in Brussels today, as Moscow demands the Alliance rescinds the 2008 Bucharest Summit decision that Georgia and Ukraine will eventually become its members.
In a press conference after the meeting, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the Allies also emphasized the “right for each nation to choose its own security arrangements.”
As Moscow demands NATO to withdraw forces from eastern member states, the Secretary General stressed that “Allies made clear they will not denounce their ability to protect and defend each other, including with presence of troops in the eastern part of the Alliance.”
He noted that NATO allies called on Russia to withdraw its troops from Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova and respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the three countries. “These forces are there without the consents of the Governments of these countries. They are uninvited and not welcomed,” Secretary General Stoltenberg asserted.
According to the NATO official, although the Allies are ready to engage in dialogue with Russia, they will not compromise on core principles and on the sovereignty and territorial integrity “of every nation in Europe.” He maintained that respect for the borders of all countries is a fundamental principle for peace and security in the continent.
Both NATO and Russia expressed the need to continue the dialogue and explore a timeframe for future meetings, but Moscow could not agree to a specific schedule today, said the Secretary General.
“NATO Allies are ready to meet again with Russia, to have discussions in greater detail, to put concrete proposals on the table and to seek constructive outcomes,” he added. Secretary General Stoltenberg laid out increasing transparency of military exercises, arms control, disarmament, non-proliferation and improving civil and military communication channels as possible areas of discussion.
The NATO-Russia Council meeting came during the week of high-level diplomatic meetings between the Western states and Moscow over Kremlin’s proposed “security guarantees.” The week kicked off with bilateral dialogue between the U.S. and Russia in Geneva on January 10 and will continue tomorrow in Vienna with a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council.
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