IS THE CFE AGREEMENT UNRAVELING?
Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 76
Reports out of Vienna — where the 30 states that are party to the 1990 Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty are trying to "adapt" the treaty to today’s circumstances — indicate that negotiations have run into difficulties. The main problem stems from the May 1996 Review Conference, during which all the countries involved agreed to modify the original treaty’s so-called "flank limits." In so doing, the conference validated Russia’s desire to station more men and equipment in its Leningrad and North Caucasus military districts than were allowed in the 1990 document. This was accomplished by redrawing the treaty map and shifting several Russian regions out of the flanks zone. This flanks agreement, moreover, is an important building block in negotiations currently ongoing between Russia and NATO. But, although the agreement passed unanimously at the May 1996 conference, few of the 30 states have ratified it since then, and some are now having second thoughts. Because of this delay, the ratification deadline was extended from last December to May 15 of this year. President Clinton sent the agreement to the Senate on March 25, but that body has yet to act on it.
Unidentified diplomatic sources in Vienna indicate that Azerbaijan, Moldova, and Ukraine, supported by Georgia, have said that they will not ratify the May 1996 agreement. All reportedly claim that the agreement would allow Russia to keep troops in former Soviet republics without the approval of the "host" country. (AFP, April 14) The Russians, not surprisingly, welcomed NATO’s proposals on adapting the CFE treaty when they were presented in Vienna in February, (Itar-Tass, February 25) and NATO — and the U.S. in particular — has insisted that the treaty is a "cornerstone of the political security structure of Europe." (USIA, February 22) Any unraveling of the May 1996 flanks agreement is going to make the current negotiations infinitely more difficult.
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