The North Atlantic alliance is ready for dialogue with Russia but it will never compromise on its principles, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at the Thursday launch of Politico Europe.
He said he knew from his own experience that it was quite possible to reach an understanding and interact with Russia but the alliance needed to be confident and strong in order to prevent Russia from challenging its principles.
Another precondition of cooperation with Russia is mutual trust, he said.
In the opinion of Stoltenberg, NATO-Russia cooperation is not at variance with the growing military potential of the alliance, for instance, in Eastern Europe.
There is no variance between constructive cooperation between NATO and Russia and the strengthening defense potential of the alliance: Russia is a big neighbor and there should be dialogue but the alliance will not compromise on its principles of security, integrity of borders and sovereignty of countries, he said.
The NATO secretary general reaffirmed that the alliance's enlargement did not depend on the opinion of Russia, as such decisions were an exclusive competence of alliance member countries. A decision on one candidate country, Montenegro, is expected to be made by the end of this year.
Stoltenberg declined to answer a question about Russia's possible admission to NATO in 20 years or so.
He said he had been into politics for so long that he had stopped speculating on hypothetical issues.
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