President Aleksandr Lukashenko told a senior staff meeting of Belarus border troops that he has recently agreed with the Russian border troops’ commander, Gen. Andrey Nikolaev, on Russian financing of Belarus border troops and on merging the two countries’ border forces as of next year. Lukashenko added that in his capacity as executive head of the Russia-Belarus Community, he has ordered a draft plan on creating the "Community’s border troops." "We have embarked on the road of union with Russia… Moscow understands that Belarus’ outer borders are in fact also Russia’s outer borders," Lukashenko told the meeting. (Interfax, September 11) Belarus and Russia signed in 1995 an agreement on Russian financing only of construction of new Belarus border installations opposite Latvia and Lithuania and only to the tune of 50 percent. Moscow is said to have failed to live up to this agreement because of financial constraints. Since last year, a small number of Russian border troops guard the Belarus borders jointly with their Belarusan counterparts. Lukashenko may want to move faster than Moscow thinks politically or financially feasible in unifying the two countries’ border troops.
Azerbaijani Parliament Chairman Resigns.