From NATO: [T]oday, more than twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, is Russia less secure because democratic states in Central and Eastern Europe have joined the Alliance?

I believe that the opposite is true. When Russia’s neighbours joined NATO in 1999 and 2004, Russia benefited from a stable western border. And that stability, of course along with EU membership, led to increased investor confidence, economic growth and prosperity.

And what is the result? Exports from Russia to NATO’s new member countries have increased eleven times. Imports to Russia from the new member states increased five times. Last year, Poland was not only Russia’s second largest import partner, but it was also its sixth largest export partner. Foreign Direct Investments by Russia in the new member states of NATO almost doubled between 2007 and 2008. And cultural and education exchanges and other kinds of cross-border cooperation have increased significantly as well.

To me, all this is no accident. Once a country feels secure, once it has a home, it finds greater political and economic stability, and the confidence to reach out constructively to all its neighbours. That is why I firmly believe that the admission of new members into NATO – alongside the enlargement of the European Union – has been, and will continue to be, a net benefit to European security. And that includes for Russia.

Excerpt from speech by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the Moscow State Institute for International Relations. (photo: NATO)