All 30 parties to the 1990 Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty have approved the May 1996 Flanks agreement endorsing Russia’s build-up of military equipment in the Caucasus region, but the process went right down to the wire. Azerbaijan, which had expressed its unhappiness over the agreement from the beginning, signaled its acceptance only two hours before the deadline of midnight, May 15. Earlier that day, President Haidar Aliev reportedly received a call from U.S. vice president Al Gore, who was said to have invited him to visit Washington. Aliev was also apparently swayed by the U.S. Senate’s ratification resolution which singled out Armenia as a potential violator of the agreement.
The Azerbaijani parliament did not get around to voting on the agreement until the next day. Foreign Minister Hasan Hasanov told the deputies that one of the country’s foreign policy priorities is to take part in new European security structures. The deputies approved the pact 87 to 5 in what by then was a symbolic gesture. The wording of the flanks document left it up to each state to decide how to approve it and did not mandate formal parliamentary ratification. All that was necessary was for each state to notify The Netherlands — the depository state for the CFE treaty — of its "confirmation of approval." The agreement has now entered into force, thus averting a serious set-back to NATO’s efforts to reassure Russia regarding the alliance’s upcoming expansion. Misgivings about the agreement, however, have not been allayed — certainly not in Baku, Tbilisi, Kiev, or Chisinau. (RFE/RL, May 16; Turan, May 17)
Kazakstan is CIS Leader in Per-Capita Foreign Direct Investment.