Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov used a visit to Finland yesterday to reiterate Moscow’s opposition to any further enlargement of the NATO alliance. Speaking to reporters following talks with Finnish Foreign Minister Tarja Halonen at the end of his four-day visit, Primakov said that “we do not want the NATO expansion process to start again.”
Primakov also restated Moscow’s particular opposition to NATO membership for any former Soviet republics, saying that such a move would be “unacceptable” to Russia and that it would disrupt Russian-NATO relations. In what appeared to be a reference to the three former Soviet Baltic states, the Russian foreign minister pointedly depicted friendly relations between Russia and Finland as a model that other countries might emulate. Such relations, he said, would contribute to general international stability. (Reuter, Itar-Tass, June 1) Finland is a not a NATO member, though there has been some debate in the country on whether membership might be desirable. Despite Russian objections, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have made clear their intention to pursue NATO membership.
Primakov’s remarks in Finland follow by only days his attendance at a meeting of the Russia-NATO Permanent Joint Council in Luxembourg. The Russian foreign minister traveled yesterday from Helsinki to Zurich, where he is to hold talks with Swiss leaders.
SAKHALIN GETS FEDERAL AID; DEMILITARIZATION OF KURILS DISCUSSED.