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NATO Wants Clarification About Russian Treaty Freeze

NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said the 26 member countries had received the news with "concern, grave concern, disappointment and deep regret because the allies are of the opinion that the CFE treaty is one of the cornerstones of European security." Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
Oslo (AFP) April 27, 2007
NATO called Friday for Russia to clarify whether it has actually frozen its application of a key arms treaty limiting the number of military forces in Europe. "The first step will still have to be to clarify exactly what President (Vladimir) Putin meant," chief NATO spokesman James Appathurai told reporters, when asked how the alliance would respond to the apparent move.

"I have seen quotes from presidential advisors saying: 'Well, we only mean in six months', I have heard some else tell me that he subsequently said they only mean in one year," he said.

"There will clearly be a discussion within NATO, there will clearly be a discussion between capitals and the Russian Federation on what they mean."

Making his last state of the nation speech in Moscow, Putin said Thursday that Russia could pull out of the 1990 Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty until all of NATO's current members ratified it.

"It would be appropriate to announce a moratorium on Russian adherence ... until it has been ratified by all NATO countries without exception," he said.

NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said the 26 member countries had received the news with "concern, grave concern, disappointment and deep regret because the allies are of the opinion that the CFE treaty is one of the cornerstones of European security."

But German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called for calm.

"The arithmetic of the Cold War, with its numbers of armed vehicles, missiles and troops on each side, just doesn't add up any more," he said. "We must avoid an escalation."

"What we need is not less disarmament and fewer arms controls, we need more," said Steinmeier, whose once-divided country was the frontline for the Cold War.

In Berlin government spokesman Thomas Steg called for continued dialogue, while adding that "we are strongly convinced that threats do not help."

In France foreign ministry spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei called for Russia to go back on its decision, calling the CFE treaty "a cornerstone of security in Europe."

He said that debate on the treaty and the US anti-missile plan that triggered Putin's move should continue in the NATO-Russia joint council to overcome Moscow's suspicions.

The CFE treaty was signed in 1990 in Paris by the countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the former Warsaw Pact to limit military hardware in the region.

It was adapted in Istanbul in 1999 following the collapse of the Warsaw Pact, in order to limit deployments on a country-by-country basis.

NATO states have refused to ratify the new pact on the grounds that Moscow has failed to honour commitments made in Istanbul to withdraw Russian forces from the former Soviet republics of Georgia and Moldova.

earlier related report
EU's Barroso disappointed by Russia on conventional forces
United Nations (AFP) April 27 - European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso expressed disappointment Friday at Russia's announcement that it was suspending its participation in an arms treaty limiting the number of military forces in Europe.

Russian President Vladimir Putin Putin stunned Western capitals Thursday when he announced the suspension of Moscow's participation in the Soviet-era Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty.

"The announcement regarding CFE was, as others have said, disappointing," Barroso said at the United Nations after meeting with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

"It is sending a signal that is not the best signal, not the most helpful for the kind of relations that we in Europe want to have with Russia," he said.

"We in the European Commission will stay interested in developing constructive, positive, strategic relations with Russia. Of course, there are sometimes some difficulties, but I believe that we can deal with those difficulties in a global, positive and constructive framework," Barroso added.

He indicated he would address the issue during a regular EU-Russia summit in Samara, Russia next month.

The accord was signed on November 19, 1990 in Paris by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the Warsaw Pact and modified in 1999 after the fall of the Soviet Union and the East bloc.

NATO called for clarification on Friday.

Putin said the suspension was in response to US plans to deploy an anti-missile system in eastern Europe.

Barroso said that "regarding specific issues now about missiles, those should have been dealt with in other fora, and we support all efforts to create the best possible atmosphere between the European Union and Russia."

Source: Agence France-Presse

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