BRUSSELS, April 20. /TASS/. NATO and Russia have profound and persistent disagreements, the North Atlantic Alliance’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday.
"NATO and Russia have profound and persistent disagreements. Today’s meeting did not change that," Stoltenberg said after Russia-NATO Council session in Brussels.
"NATO Allies remain firm that there can be no return to practical cooperation until Russia returns to the respect of international law," he noted.
"But we will keep channels of communication open. Especially when tensions are high, political dialogue is necessary to discuss our differences and to reduce the risk of military incidents," Stoltenberg concluded.
German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer told a press briefing on Wednesday that Germany welcomes the NATO-Russia Council meeting and believes that the alliance and Moscow should keep up the dialogue to exchange views and avoid possible misunderstandings.
"Minister Steinmeier noted that, in his opinion, it is important to maintain dialogue in difficult times to avoid misunderstandings and exchange views and information on maneuvers," he said.
"The German government positively evaluates the fact that it came to this meeting. As for the expectations, it is impossible to eliminate all differences during one meeting. We believe that they can be resolved under the condition of maintaining dialogue with each other, including in such format as the NATO-Russia Council," Schaefer said.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Germany evaluates positively the resumption of the work of the NATO-Russia Council.
"It is good that the first meeting in nearly two years within the framework of the NATO-Russia Council took place today," he said. "I spoke out in favor of avoiding the interruption of the lifeline in the talks with Russia, including in the difficult moments when tensions escalated in Ukraine," he said.
"Due to multiple complex issues, the dialogue itself is valuable and should be continued. This is the only way for us to reach an understanding of the problems and the necessary solutions," the minister said.
As for the Russian side, Moscow does not feel any discomfort from absence of regular dialogue with NATO while maintaining contacts with its member countries, Russian Ambassador to NATO Alexander Grushko said on Wednesday. According to the diplomat, Russia and NATO have no positive agenda at the moment, and the date for the new session of the Russia-NATO Council has not been set yet.
"The problem is that NATO and we have no positive agenda today," he said. "All cooperation projects that were important for the security of Russia and the NATO member-countries have been discontinued. The project to train personnel for the anti-drug services of Afghanistan, Central Asia and Pakistan has been terminated. The project to train qualified personnel for providing maintenance service to Russian and Soviet helicopters in Afghanistan that are the basis of the Afghan aviation has been severed. Cooperation on the entire range of the fight against terrorism, including the provision of anti-terrorism security in public places, has been discontinued."
"Russia has nothing against holding a new meeting of the NATO-Russia Council but only when there is a real agenda," the ambassador said.
According to the diplomat, the dialog on strengthening trust is impossible without reduction of NATO’s presence at Russia’s borders.
"We have enough measures of trust and control of military activity," Grushko said after a Russia-NATO Council session in Brussels. "The problem is not the lack of such mechanisms but the lack of NATO’s readiness to stop building up military capabilities in regions adjacent to Russian territory, as well as new systems of communications and control, new command posts, set up new warehouses or station armored vehicles. We should see the essence of the problem and not hope that superficial measures will help solve problems caused by NATO’s plan to paint Russia as a country that needs to be deterred," he added.