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OSCE Summit: Two-Day Summit Draws Leaders From 54 Nations

Lisbon, 2 December 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Leaders from Europe and North America begin a two-day European security summit today in Lisbon to map out a blueprint for peace into the next century.

Heads of state and government from the 54-nation Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) are expected to approve a document that will lay out plans for future European security, launch a new round of arms control talks, and stabilize peace in Bosnia. Russia's concerns over NATO expansion are also expected to dominate discussions.

The OSCE is the only organization that includes NATO and former Warsaw Pact nations. It also includes the United States and the former Soviet republics in Asia.

After meeting last night with his Portuguese counterpart, Antonio Guterres, Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said Moscow is "categorically against" NATO's planned eastward expansion. "The fact that Europe is now without blocs is very important," he said. Russia proposes giving the OSCE a more powerful role in European security to act as a counterbalance to NATO.

The two-day summit will be opened by Guterres. Chernomyrdin will deliver the first delegation address shortly after.

Also on the agenda is the 1990 treaty on conventional arms control. Moscow maintains that with the breakup of the Soviet Union, NATO forces are now superior and that a new balance must be worked out.

In other matters, Azerbaijan wants the OSCE summit to affirm its territorial integrity, but Armenia opposes this because it wants the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh to be given self-determination. The two countries failed again last week to reach agreement on a set of principles for ending the conflict. Diplomats in Lisbon, however, tell RFE/RL that they still have faint hopes of reaching a compromise.