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Europe: Arms Negotiations Progressing On CFE Treaty

  • Roland Eggleston

Munich, 14 July 1997 (RFE/RL) - Arms negotiators in Vienna say they are making progress on amending a basic treaty limiting conventional military forces in Europe, and that they hope to conclude preliminary negotiations by the end of this month.

The Treaty is the so-called CFE (Conventional Forces in Europe) treaty, a 1990 agreement which limits the number of tanks, artillery, armored cars, battle helicopters and war planes - and their crews - which may be deployed by NATO and the members of the former Warsaw Pact. The 30 signatories include the U.S., Russia and Ukraine. The treaty is being re-negotiated to meet the new conditions since the collapse of Communism.

The chief U.S. delegate, General Greg Govan, told RFE/RL today that the negotiators are currently seeking a preliminary agreement, which will set out the basic elements for adapting the 1990 treaty.

General Govan said that originally it was planned to achieve this preliminary agreement by next Friday (July 18), when the current session is scheduled to adjourn for the Summer. However, some details remain open, and it has now been agreed to continue the session until the end of this month.

General Govan said the extension had been agreed by the U.S., Russia and the other 28 countries in the negotiations. He said the real work cannot begin until the negotiators reach agreement on the basic elements for adapting the 1990 treaty. He said Russia has submitted a number of proposals on changing the rules regarding the deployment of troops and weapons in various parts of Europe. Other proposals have come from NATO, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and other countries.

General Govan said he expected the negotiations on most of these proposals to be very difficult. He did not expect them to be concluded before the middle of next year.

"In many ways it is more complex than the negotiations which led to the 1990 treaty," he said. "That was between two cohesive blocs. Now we have the interests of the old members of NATO, and also the sometimes separate interests of the three countries which will be joining NATO in the near future, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic. In NATO, we also have to take into account the special concerns of Turkey."

The U.S. negotiator said that, on the other side, Russia had put forward ideas for adapting the treaty, but that Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova and Kazakhstan also had their own separate ideas.

"Obviously they don't always match those of Russia," he said. Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia also had their own proposals for ensuring military security.
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