Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Extraordinary Conference of the States Parties to the CFE Treaty

An Extraordinary Conference of the States Parties to the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) begins today in Vienna and continues until Friday. As noted on the OSCE website:
On 28 May 2007, the Russian Federation officially requested the Depository of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE Treaty), the Government of the Netherlands, to convene an Extraordinary Conference of the States Parties . . . . According to Article XXI of the CFE Treaty, any signatory State can request such an extraordinary conference in case "exceptional circumstances" relating to the Treaty arise. The Conference has to be convened no later than 15 days after the official request is made and should in principle last no longer than three weeks.
In a May 28 press release, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs explained that the request was made because:
of the serious problems that have arisen with the NATO nations' implementation of the Treaty as a result of its enlargement and NATO foot-dragging on ratification of the Agreement on the Adaptation of the CFE Treaty, signed in 1999.
David Kramer, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, in a May 31 speech to the Baltimore Council on Foreign Relations, responded to the Russian points:
President Putin [on April 26], in his "State of the Nation" Address, suggested he would consider suspending Russia's obligations under the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE Treaty) if no progress was made on ratification of the Adapted CFE Treaty by NATO Allies. As it usually happens, such saber-rattling only succeeded in unifying the Alliance. In Oslo, NATO Ministers universally responded that we continue to regard the current CFE Treaty as a cornerstone of the European security. The Administration and NATO Allies are very serious about our support for Adapted CFE: the Adapted Treaty, signed in 1999, replaces the bloc-to-bloc structure of the original Treaty with a more flexible system of national and territorial equipment limits. But before we can ratify the Adapted CFE, Russia must fulfill commitments it made in Istanbul in 1999 to withdraw its forces and munitions from Georgia and Moldova. At the heart of the Adapted CFE Treaty lies the clear principle that no state can station troops on another's territory without the latter's consent. Both Georgia and Moldova have asked the Russian forces stationed there to leave, as is their right as sovereign, independent states. In Georgia, Russia has made major progress in fulfilling its commitments; in Moldova, by comparison, it has done nothing since 2003. Absent further progress on fulfilling Istanbul - and we have offered to help - we unfortunately will not be able to move forward on Adapted CFE Ratification.
That same day, Russian President Vladimir Putin said: "We have signed and ratified the CFE and are fully implementing it. We have pulled out all our heavy weapons from the European part of Russia to (locations) behind the Ural Mountains and cut our military by 300,000 men. And what about our partners? They are filling eastern Europe with new weapons. A new base in Bulgaria, another one in Romania, a (missile defense) site in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic. What we are supposed to do? We can't just sit back and look at that."

Last Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is reported to have said that Russia will not withdraw from the CFE Treaty at this week's conference.

Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Daniel Fried will lead the U.S. delegation.

A short backgrounder on current U.S.-Russia relations can be found here.