Russian President Vladimir Putin signed Rome Declaration here on Tuesday, forging a new partnershipwith the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
The signing of the pact comes after summit talks between President Putin and NATO leaders at Italy's Pratica-di-Mare air force base, some 20 kilometers southwest of Rome. The contents of the pact had been approved by foreign ministers in Reykyavik, Iceland, on May 14.
The signing of the landmark accord means the official establishment and operation of the NATO-Russia Council, which is designed to replace the five-year-old NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council, thus creating a new mechanism of bilateral cooperation dubbed as "NATO at 20."
The ground-breaking new council will bring together NATO and Russia to identify and pursue opportunities for joint action on a series of issues including anti-terrorism, arms control, prevention of proliferation of nuclear weapons and crisis management.
In the new system, Russia is granted "equal status" and has totally equal say with NATO member states on issues mentioned above. However, Russia did not have its long-sought right of veto to NATO's kernel issues and the military alliance can still act independently in such core issues as military operations, enlargement and internal decision-making reforms.
It is widely believed that the establishment of the new councilwould pave the way for NATO's eastward expansion, which is expected to include a rather long list of candidate countries.