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Baltic News Service, Vilnius, December 2, 2002

Russia Is Not Afraid of NATO expansion

Deputy of the State Duma of the Russian Federation and the leader of the opposition party YABLOKO Grigory Yavlinsky forecasts that after Lithuania enters NATO relationships between Russia and Lithuania will improve.

"We observed this in Russia when Poland was invited into the alliance. Our mutual relationships only improved ," said Grigory Yavlinsky during his stay in Vilnius on Saturday. In Vilnius Yavlinsky participated in the international conference discussing the issues concerning implementation of the "A Broader Europe" initiative.

On November 21, 2002, at the NATO summit in Prague, Lithuania together with six other countries from Eastern and Central Europe was invited to begin negotiations on entering this bloc. Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary were invited into NATO in 1997 and became fully-fledged members of the alliance in 1999.

Yavlinsky also noted that it was not very pleasant for Russia that a military organisation had been approaching its borders, however, he expressed his hope that "NATO expansion will eliminate the old complexes", including psychological and other complexes.

At present Russian leadership is not categorically opposed to NATO expansion onthe territory of the Baltic states, as it was several years ago, however, it continues to consider this process a mistake.

In an interview to the BSN Yavlinsky noted that the change of Russia's position towards NATO expansion is related to the fact that RF no longer considers the West and the North Atlantic Alliance as an enemy.

Touching upon relations between Russia and the European Union Yavlinsky drew the attention of the journalists to the insecurity of Russia's Eastern borders.

He also noted that if Europe did not pay attention to this problem, terrorists might start creating their organisations on Russia's territory. According to Yavlinsky, the settlement of terrorists in Russia, which has weapons, toxic chemicals and huge nuclear arsenals "may become a huge problem for Europe."

"The European politicians should not hide their heads in the sand like ostriches, but resolve this large and costly problem," stressed Yavlinsky.

"European border ends not by Belarus, they go far further," added Yavlinsky.

See also:

Russia and NATO

Baltic News Service, Vilnius, December 2, 2002

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