Wednesday, January 27, 2016

NATO, Russia Should Talk Face-to-Face, Not Through a Megaphone

The NATO emblem is seen before a defence ministers meeting at the NATO headquarters in Brussels on October 22, 2013


Munich Security Conference Chairman Wolfgang Ischinger has urged NATO and Russia to settle their differences and called on NATO to revive the NATO-Russia Council; both sides, he stressed, have in their possession thousands of nuclear warheads, which will pose a real danger if a military conflict escalates.

In the run-up to the 52nd annual Munich Security Conference, its Chairman Wolfgang Ischinger delivered a speech during a press conference at the Federal Press Office in Berlin on Wednesday. Ischinger has called on NATO and Russia to set aside their differences and resume actively exchanging information bi-laterally in order to avoid new conflicts and unnecessarily aggravate relations.
He reminded the journalists that the relationship became strained due to the Ukrainian crisis and both NATO and Russia should bring the “diplomatic machine” back into action.
“It is important to talk to each other not only through a megaphone, and I think there is an urgent need for the Alliance to increase its already growing struggle to revive the NATO-Russia Council,” RIA Novosti quotes him as saying.
Ischinger added that the danger of escalation became only more evident after Turkey downed the Russian bomber over Syria. The incident highlighted the danger of military escalation between NATO and Russia, which, since the end of the Cold War has never been as high as it is now, as Turkey is a NATO member state. He called on all the parties not to forget that both sides have in their possession thousands of strategic nuclear warheads, and tens of thousands of non-strategic ones.
 “Only imagine if Russia, also by mistake, have reacted by downing an American jet. The problem should be treated seriously,” concluded the top diplomat.
The NATO-Russia Council (NRC), was established at the NATO-Russia Summit in Rome on May 28, 2002. It replaced the Permanent Joint Council (PJC), a forum for consultation and cooperation created by the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security, which remains the formal basis for NATO-Russia relations.
It is a mechanism for consultation, consensus-building, cooperation, joint decision and joint action, in which the individual NATO member states and Russia work as equal partners on a wide spectrum of security issues of common interest.

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