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Russia: NATO General Says It's Moscow's Turn To Make Concessions

Munich, 18 April 1997 (RFE/RL) - The chairman of NATO's top military body, General Klaus Naumann, says NATO cannot make any more important concessions to Russia in the negotiations on a security pact and said it was now Russia's turn to make concessions.

Naumann, a German general, is the chief of NATO's military committee.

In an interview this week with the Munich newspaper "Suddeutsche Zeitung," he said: "NATO has gone a long way to meet Russian concerns. We have done our part. But achieving a compromise requires reciprocal concessions from the other side." He said Russia should take concrete steps to improve transparency regarding the size and activities of its conventional forces and -- particularly -- regarding the de-mobilisation of its tactical nuclear weapons."

According to Naumann, Russia still has thousands of tactical nuclear weapons. He said many of them are still deployed along Russia's western border, as they were in the past.

In this connection, Naumann referred to Kaliningrad, a Russian territory on the Baltic between Lithuania and Poland. "In Kaliningrad, there is an extremely heavy Russian military presence per square kilometre," he said.

The Baltic states have frequently protested about the large Russian military presence in Kaliningrad, and said it presented a potential security problem. Russia has always rejected the protests.

Discussing the planned agreement between NATO and Russia, Naumann renewed NATO's promise that, in normal circumstances, it would not deploy nuclear weapons on the territories of new members in Central Europe, nor would it deploy large number of troops there from the present NATO countries. However, he said that this did not mean that NATO would completely renounce its military presence in the new member states. He said command centres could be located there, as was usual in every NATO state. He said the military infrastructure in these states would also have to be improved.

"The central European countries have no reason to worry that they might become second class members of NATO," he said. The Alliance would remain true to the principle of collective defence.