According to Azerbaijan’s senior presidential adviser on foreign policy, Vafa Guluzade, changes demanded by Moscow to the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty are "alarming to a number of newly independent countries." Writing in the current issue of Baku’s leading weekly, Zerkalo, Guluzade observes that the changes would give Russia "an exclusive right to station troops and military hardware on former Soviet territories." While Azerbaijan is free from Russian troops, Baku is alarmed by the massive amounts of military hardware delivered by Russia covertly to Armenian forces. Under the circumstances, Azerbaijan cannot endorse the proposed changes, Guluzade concludes. (Interfax, May 12) He had issued a similar warning at a May 8 briefing. Azerbaijan’s neighbor Turkey has registered similar concerns.
The Georgian parliament is scheduled today to debate ratification of the CFE treaty and the updating document. Deputies "fear that the temporary deployment of Russian forces in Georgia may turn out to be permanent" unless the document is modified to preclude that possibility. (Droni weekly, no. 34/1997) Georgia itself exemplifies a situation in which a country has temporarily accepted Russian troops under duress, enabling Moscow to cite the country’s "consent."
Moldovan officials, meanwhile, told The Monitor yesterday that they are particularly concerned by certain clauses in the treaty’s updating document, the wording of which could allow Russia to prolong the stationing of ex-Soviet forces in Moldova and other newly independent countries without their freely expressed consent. Moldova continues to call for a prohibition of such stationing. Chisinau also seeks OSCE monitoring of Russia’s fulfillment of its obligation to withdraw the troops from Moldova.
Ukrainian Security Council head Volodymyr Horbulin has reportedly included this issue on the agenda of his current U.S. visit, preparatory to President Leonid Kuchma’s imminent visit to Washington. Foreign Minister Hennady Udovenko stated last week that Kiev is holding "intensive consultations" with NATO on this issue "which affects not only Ukraine, but also Moldova, Georgia, and Azerbaijan." (Interfax-Ukraine, May 7, 11)
These countries are concerned that the proposed concessions to Moscow on CFE flank quotas may represent a currency of exchange for Russia’s grudging acceptance of NATO’s enlargement. Washington’s and NATO’s direct negotiations with Moscow on flank quotas, affecting these countries’ security but without their involvement, reinforces such concerns. Those direct and potentially decisive negotiations have been conducted outside the formal OSCE consultations in Vienna on the document to update the original CFE treaty. The treaty’s ratification deadline is May 15. (See Monitor, May 9)
Ukraine: Privatization Without Progress?