Nato tries to tempt Moscow with 'peace partnership' deal

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The Independent Online
The 16 nations of Nato yesterday offered Russia what they hoped would be a tempting package of understandings to encourage Moscow to sign up for Nato's post- Cold War order of Partnership for Peace without allowing it direct influence over Western freedom of action.

The Russian Foreign Minister, Andrei Kozyrev, arrived in Istanbul to inspect the final communique of the ministerial meeting of the North Atlantic Council and to find out what was meant by an offer of an 'extensive and far-reaching Individual Partnership Programme, corresponding to its size, importance, capabilities and willingness to contribute'.

Nato also made a parallel offer in the final communique to develop a relationship 'in appropriate areas outside the Partnership for Peace'. A senior Western diplomat said that would mean joint work on nuclear issues such as safety, dismantlement and counter-proliferation measures.

'We hope he will be able to go back to Moscow and say (to hardliners like the Defence Minister, Pavel Grachev) that the hand is extended, let's shake it,' the diplomat said. 'I think Kozyrev knows the score.'

Senior Nato officials said that compromise had to be reached because 'even if the Russians cannot veto what Nato does, they can make life difficult'. For instance, nobody seemed ready to spell out restrictions on Russian military or peace-keeping actions in the 12 members of the former Soviet Union in the Commonwealth of Independent States. 'The fact is that Russians are going to do things in these areas,' one diplomat said.

Nato states were clearly walking a fine line in their communique between assuaging Russia's injured pride after losing the Cold War and helping the newly free countries of Eastern Europe, whose right to join the Western alliance was reaffirmed.

'Russia is and will remain the single most powerful nation in Europe . . . Nato is and will remain the single most powerful organisation of collective defence in Europe,' said Nato's deputy secretary-general, Sergio Balanzino. 'The alliance has to work now on strengthening our relationship. Although this relationship should certainly reflect the fact that Russia is a great power, it is not our intention that Russia and Nato co- operate in a so-called Yalta 2 or the drawing of new dividing lines across Europe.'

The US Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, told the conference that 'the old East-West division of Europe is dead'. He saw proof of that in the opening of offices in Nato headquarters by some of the 20 states that have joined the Partnership for Peace programme and planned joint military exercises in Poland and the Netherlands.

Much diplomatic debate at the foreign ministers' meeting in Istanbul centred on how, exactly, to make Russia sign up for the Partnership for Peace programme, possibly as early as next month. Some states seemed ready to leave the door open for side-understandings, particularly on peace-keeping activities.