In 1997, the Russia-NATO Permanent Joint Council
was created, but Moscow complained it was little more than a talk shop.
In May 1997, the NATO-Russia Founding Act was signed and a Permanent Joint Council (PJC) was established to co-ordinate relations in key areas of common concern.
The Council provided a forum for closer co-operation between Russia and NATO than that catered for by the Permanent Joint Council, but was not as strong as Russia had wished.
In 1997, to sweeten the pill of NATO's expansion into central Europe, NATO and Russia signed a document dubbed the "Founding Act" to establish the Permanent Joint Council
(PJC) in which Russia held equal place with the 16 NATO members to discuss common security concerns.
Blair proposes to replace the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council
- a "talking shop" which meets monthly in Brussels and which has achieved little - with a "Russia North Atlantic Council" giving Moscow much closer and more practical involvement in NATO affairs.
The ministerial meetings of the NATO/Russia Permanent Joint Council
and of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council in Defence Ministers session will meet on June 8.
As the authors note, the Permanent Joint Council
that was established pursuant to the act "has been more of a diplomatic debating society than a catalyst for practical NATO-Russia cooperation.
Russia all but cut its ties with Nato and shut down work on the Permanent Joint Council
- where the sides consult on matters of mutual interest - in response to Nato's bombing campaign in Yugoslavia last year.
In order to strengthen its assertion that NATO expansion is not directed against Russia, NATO should either sign a legally-binding agreement providing military assurances, as Russia has long sought, or, at least, ensure that the newly created NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council becomes a significant decision-making body and not just a forum for exchanging views and consultation.
Although there are merits to the regular exchange of views, the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council (PJC) could be strengthened into a decision-making body.
Despite continuing tensions on Chechnya and Kosovo, the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council
has met again at ambassadorial level, consolidating renewed links following a long period of inactivity.