On the 19th and 20th of November, Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, will be the venue of two parallel summits: a meeting of the leaders of 28 NATO member-states and a Russia-NATO meeting.
Both these events are closely connected and the results of one can crucially affect the success of the other. Nevertheless, we are going to consider them separately and we will begin with the NATO summit which takes place first. The NATO Secretary General Anders Rasmussen has more than once called it one of the most important in the history of the alliance. There are serious grounds for that, because the new NATO strategy for the next few years will be determined in Lisbon.
Naturally, all the details of that document are not broadcast yet. But certain important regulations have leaked out. Thus, the alliance can carry out military operations in any part of the world as before, explaining it with the need to guarantee its security. There is a stipulation, though, that these steps will be taken only in case of a real threat. The problem is who will determine the degree of threat? Will it be NATO itself? The answer to this question cannot fail to interest countries that are not members of NATO, Russia included. In one of his recent speeches, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov declared the following in this connection.
“The key problem for us is how the new concept treats the NATO attitude to international law and the UN Charter. First of all, it applies to the standards of the use of force in international relations.”
Another significant point on the agenda of the forthcoming NATO summit is the creation of a united anti-missile system for Europe. There is no doubt that the alliance has set its heart on it. The main question is whether NATO is going to do it together with Russia or without it. Chances are we have an answer to this question after the second Lisbon event, the Russia-NATO summit.
Incidentally, it will be the first one in the history of our relations. In recent years, both sides have frequently expressed hope that this summit can initiate a strategic partnership between Russia and NATO. We’ll keep our fingers crossed, but success really depends on the anti-missile system issue. It is already known that no automatic merging of the NATO and Russian missile-defence systems is planned. They are expected to interact, for example, to warn each other about missile-launching by third parties. Nevertheless, Russia still has a lot of important questions to NATO.
In particular, how will its new anti-missile system be built, against whom will it be directed and on what conditions is NATO prepared to cooperate with Russia in this field? The situation will, possibly, be clarified in Lisbon. Both parties will also discuss their further interaction in Afghanistan, in the sphere of the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and in the struggle against international terrorism, piracy and drug trafficking.
Two weeks ago, when accepting the NATO leaders’ invitation to Lisbon, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said.
“I will go to the Russia-NATO summit in Lisbon. It will help find necessary compromises and develop the dialogue between Russia and the alliance.”
We hope that compromises are found in the Portuguese capital and that the dialogue between the two sides becomes more productive. We would like to point out, at the same time, that Russia does not intend to enter the alliance but is prepared for equal and honest cooperation with it. Let us mention in conclusion, that, according to some sources, a bilateral meeting of the Russian and the US Presidents can take place in Lisbon. It will be the second meeting in one week, the first one was in the Japanese city of Yokohama last Sunday, during the APEC summit.