DEFENCE – NATO-RUSSIAN RELATIONS – 17 June 2002

Dr Julian Lewis: Clearly, the warming of relations between Russia and NATO is critical at a time when we face the threat of international terrorism on an unprecedented scale. However, does the Secretary of State [Geoff Hoon] agree that it is also important to remember that NATO is first and foremost a military alliance? While welcoming former adversaries into association with NATO, we must also bear it in mind that should democracy in Russia take a backward step, our arrangements should not compromise the ability of the original NATO countries to defend themselves.

[Geoff Hoon: That must be right. However, it is equally right to pursue the opportunity for closer co-operation between NATO and Russia, not least because it flowed from the appalling events of 11 September. Specifically, there is an agreement to discuss techniques and measures to deal with global terrorism, which must be welcome to all concerned.]