MOSCOW (Reuter)-Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov urged NATO on Wednesday to step up efforts to work out a special relationship with Moscow and set out Russian deman’s for the right to joint decision-making on some issues.
Primakov told Itar-Tass news agency in an interview that Russia remained firmly opposed to the Western alliances plans to expand eastwards.
But–indicating there was still some room for maneuver–he made clear that some of its fears would be eased if a new deal was reached governing conventional arms and a mechanism was created to make joint decisions on issues involving Russia.
Primakov said NATO had made some efforts to address Russias concerns and work out a special relationship–but they had not gone far enough.
"They are steps in the right direction–but they are partial and insufficient–he told Tass.
Russia’says NATO’s enlargement to take in former members of the Soviet bloc countries would threaten its security and create new divisions in Europe.
NATO is expected to issue invitations to some countries in June. Diplomats say Poland–Hungary and the Czech republic will probably all be members by 1999 and that Russia is seeking as many concessions as possible before enlargement goes ahead.
Primakov said Moscow would measure the seriousness of NATO’s proposal to work out a special relationship with Russia by the progress made in renegotiating limits governing non-nuclear arms under the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty.
"If we manage to reach agreement on the modernization of CFE in order to dispel our concerns about a possible advancement of NATO’s military infrastructure and to create a mechanism for making joint decisions with NATO concerning Russias vital interests and other issues–we will sign the appropriate document (on a special relationship)–he said.
"The main indicator of the seriousness of our partners intentions will be…first of all–NATO’s willingness to take into account our concerns at the talks on adjustmen’s to the CFE treaty.