Copenhagen, August 9 (RFE/RL) -- Denmark and Russia yesterday approved a 1997 military co-operation plan that strengthens co-operation between the countries' armed forces.
While not formally part of NATO's "Partnership for Peace" program, the Russia-Denmark agreement contains similar elements, such as the development of "open" relations between the two countries, and is seen as being "in the spirit" of larger international agreements. The plan is a part of a bi-lateral military cooperation accord dating back to 1994. It will be renewed yearly.
Per Carlsen, a spokesman for Denmark's Defense Ministry, today told RFE/RL that Copenhagen is particularly interested in developing relations with the Russians in the Kaliningrad and St. Petersburg regions.
The plan calls for an exchange of information between Copenhagen and Moscow, including access to air surveillance information.
It also provides for a number of personnel exchanges in 1997, mainly from Denmark to Russia, which will culminate in a visit by the Denmark's Field Commander-in-Chief. A number of Danish officers will visit training centers in Russia, and a Dane will participate in a training program at the General Staff Academy in Moscow.
The discussions, which ended yesterday in a meeting between Danish Defense Minister Hans Haekkerup and a group of experts of the Russian Foreign Ministry led by Colonel Viktor Pavlovich, also involved the signing of a political protocol that acknowledges relations have improved in recent years between Denmark, a NATO member, and Russia.
The main difference, however, remains Russian opposition to NATO enlargement to the East. Denmark, like other Scandinavian countries, insists on bringing the three Baltic states Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia into NATO as soon as possible.
The official Danish position is that by involving Russia in as many international initiatives as possible, it will become clearer to the current Moscow leadership as well as to ordinary citizens that NATO is a purely defensive organization and does not plan to threaten Russia in any way.