NATO and Russia have agreed to resume military ties in their first high-level meeting since Russia’s war with Georgia disrupted their relations 10 months ago.
NATO’s outgoing secretary-general, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, announced on Saturday that the so-called NATO-Russia Council (NRC), a panel set up in 2002 to improve ties between the former Cold War rivals, was operational again.
Relations between the alliance and Russia’s military were frozen after the Georgian war last August. There have been no formal military contacts since then.
The resumption means NATO and Russia can cooperate on a range of issues, including Afghanistan and efforts to fight piracy, terrorism and the spread of nuclear weapons.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met his counterparts from NATO’s 28 member nations on the island of Corfu, Greece, ahead of an informal meeting of ministers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
De Hoop Scheffer described the talks as “open and constructive, which means we did not try to paper over our differences on Georgia, for example.”
De Hoop Scheffer said Lavrov and the other ministers raised the issue of Georgia extensively, and he said there continued to be “fundamental differences.”
“But despite the fact I do not expect the twain to meet, there are a lot of things in NRC we can discuss and we can agree upon,” de Hoop Scheffer said.