Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Germany to Start Security Talks

BONN -- Germany this week launches a round of diplomacy with Russia aimed at integrating Moscow in a new European security architecture and allaying its unease over the forthcoming eastward expansion of the NATO alliance.


Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov visits Bonn on Wednesday and Thursday on his first bilateral visit to the West since taking office in January.


On Saturday, Chancellor Helmut Kohl pays a hastily arranged visit to President Boris Yeltsin, now on holiday outside Moscow.


German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily that Russia had signalled it was now ready to "enter concrete talks on a charter to comprehensively regulate cooperation with NATO."


"The intensified dialogue that we offered Russia on all these questions begins now," he said.


Foreign policy experts say Bonn is taking the lead, in close coordination with its European and North American partners, in pushing ahead a dialogue that has slumbered since the Russian presidential election campaign earlier this year.


"This is Germany's initiative," said Alexander Rahr of the German Foreign Policy Society.


"It was high time they got this moving. Around the turn of the year NATO will make a decision on starting admission talks with Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, and by then it must have a treaty or charter with Russia in place.


"If it misses this historic window, Russia may again feel cornered and hardliners may start to gain influence again," he said.


Experts say Russian foreign policy has been dormant at the top level for several months because of Yeltsin's poor health and the war in Chechnya.


But Russian diplomats and institutes have been busy developing ideas on how NATO and Russia can draw up a treaty giving a formal framework to their relationship.


"Russia won't get a veto but wants to be involved and consulted in setting the conditions of enlargement, and to be sure NATO will not catch it on the hop," said Heinz Timmermann of the Federal Institute for Eastern Studies.


Primakov appeared to soften Russia's opposition at a meeting in Berlin in June when he suggested a limited enlargement would be acceptable as long as no troops or weapons were stationed on the territory of new members.