The agenda for the first meeting of the NATO-Russia permanent joint council — established in the recently signed Russia-NATO founding act — has in large part been decided upon, Russian foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov told reporters on July 15. Issues to be discussed include developments in Bosnia and peacekeeping operations in general, as well as joint efforts against international terrorism and organized crime. According to Primakov, the council’s first meeting will take place at the level of foreign ministers in New York in September. (Russian agencies, July 15)
Primakov’s remarks capped a week during which Madeleine Albright, Robin Cook, and Klaus Kinkel — the foreign ministers of the U.S., Great Britain, and Germany — traveled consecutively to Russia for a series of consultations with Primakov and other Russian leaders. Their arrival followed NATO’s July 8-9 summit in Madrid, at which the Western alliance voted to admit three new member states. Moscow had long objected to the move, and the latest diplomatic initiative by the West was clearly aimed at allaying Russia’s concerns.
Albright and Primakov reportedly made some progress on the issue of conventional arms reductions in Europe, but the two sides clashed over the West’s determination to keep NATO’s doors open to the three Baltic countries. During Cook’s visit there was dissonance between Moscow and London on a recent NATO operation (conducted by a British unit) to arrest two Bosnian Serbs wanted as war criminals. The two sides did, however, sign an agreement on cooperation in the fight against organized crime. (See Monitor, July 16) Finalization of the agenda for the permanent joint council meeting apparently came during Kinkel’s visit on July 15, during which the two sides also discussed implementing an earlier agreement on regularizing high level talks between the political leaderships of Germany and Russia. (Russian and Western agencies, July 12-15)
Russia to Phase Out Soviet Passports.