Defense experts from NATO, Russia and east and central European nations will meet in Helsinki next week for a brainstorming session on the future European security landscape, officials announced Tuesday.
They said the two-day meeting would bring together defense planners from NATO's Atlantic Policy Advisory Group and the 44-member Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council - a platform for dialogue between NATO and nonmember European countries."This is an enlarged version of NATO's own policy planning group," a Finnish foreign ministry official said.
"It's not a formal meeting so no decisions will be made, but they will discuss some big political issues linked to security policy in the Euro-Atlantic area," he said.
One senior diplomat in Helsinki said the discussions, on Monday and Tuesday, were likely to focus on NATO's eastward enlargement.
"They are going to talk about implications of NATO's expansion for the Baltic Sea region," the diplomat said. Former Warsaw Pact members the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland are expected to join NATO next year.
But Russia vehemently opposes NATO expansion to its borders on grounds that it endangers its security, and NATO has made it clear no immediate further enlargement is likely.