ANTITERRORISM CENTER REMAINS ELUSIVE.
Publication: Monitor Volume: 6 Issue: 129
Creation of a CIS Antiterrorism Center topped Russia’s agenda at the June 19-21 summit of the CIS (see the Monitor, June 22-23). Reports filtering out of Moscow and some of the member countries’ capitals since the summit suggest that differences over the center’s mission, size and funding are even sharper than had initially been thought. The reports suggest that the summit agreed to creating a consultative, not an operational structure. The center’s mandate is essentially that of a databank to supply intelligence information and “analytical reports” to CIS member countries. And there will be no CIS antiterrorism command or units.
There is no agreement yet on staffing. While member countries of the CIS Collective Security Treaty (CST) are prepared to station permanent representatives at the Antiterrorism Center in Moscow, other countries prefer sending their representatives on periodic visits there, evidently hoping to stall the development of a structure which they are poorly placed to control even if formally present. Such presence may even saddle them with co-responsibility for actions initiated by the Russian side. The center’s Russian head, Lieutenant-General Boris Melnikov, has consented to appoint three deputies or assistants, at least two of them presumably non-Russian. He will almost certainly seek to include representatives of non-CST countries as a show of CIS cohesion. A Ukrainian deputy would be a prize catch for Melnikov. But within days of the summit, Moscow put its wrong foot forward when its military intelligence and the General Staff charged that Ukrainian ultranationalists were financing and fighting on the side of Chechen forces against Russian forces. Ukraine’s Security Service chief, Leonid Derkach, firmly rejected those accusations.
Moscow and allied Armenia scored a success at the summit by thwarting a collective condemnation of “aggressive separatism.” Georgia, Azerbaijan and Moldova–countries facing Russian-supported secessions–insisted as usual on pairing “aggressive separatism” with “terrorism,” as some CIS summits had done at least on paper. At this summit, however, the Russian side quashed any implication that the CIS antiterrorist mechanism might conceivably be used against the armed “separatists.”
Moscow’s immediate goals for the center have been outlined in the summit’s aftermath by Melnikov, Federal Security Service director Nikolai Patrushev and Security Council Secretary Sergei Ivanov. Those goals include: first, funding the Antiterrorism Center by special decisions of the CIS heads of state, not from the meager budget of the CIS Executive Committee as this summit decided; second, creating joint CIS antiterrorism units under Russian leadership; and, third, establishing a “legal mechanism” for the rapid deployment and operation of Russian antiterrorist units on the territories of CIS member countries. The Russian officials say they hope to achieve those goals by mid-2001. That agenda would seem to guarantee a continuing tug-of-war between Moscow and the independent-minded countries in the months ahead over the center’s nature.
The Moldovan parliament’s foreign policy commission chairman, Vasile Nedelciuc, has zeroed in on the main source of risk to CIS countries in Moscow’s blueprint for the center. Russia’s interpretation of the concept of terrorism and her practice of antiterrorist operations differ in basic ways from the Western concept and practice. Those differences, Nedelciuc pointed out, have tended to separate Russia from the international community. CIS countries which follow the Russian lead in this matter would not only grow more dependent on Moscow, but also distance themselves from their natural Western partners. The summit’s aftermath suggests that this view is shared in varying degrees by most national leaderships, even if it is not openly articulated (Turan, June 23; Itar-Tass, June 23, 26; Basapress, June, 24, 28; Slovo Kyrgyzstana, June 29; UNIAN, DINAU, June 30).
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