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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 42, December 1999

CFE Treaty Amended Against Background of War in Chechnya

On November 18, an Agreement on Adaptation of the 1990 Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty was signed at the Istanbul Summit of the OSCE. The full text is available on the OSCE website at http://www.osce.org/indexe-n.htm A CFE Final Act was also signed at the Summit, containing a confirmation by Russia of its commitment to all Treaty provisions - a commitment seemingly cast in doubt by the level of Russian troop and equipment deployment in its ongoing war in Chechnya. A November 18 White House fact sheet summarised the US view of the importance and main features of both the Adaptation and Final Act:

"The 1999 Adapted Treaty

The Adaptation Agreement signed today updates the 1990 Treaty to create a new, highly stable, transparent set of limitations on conventional forces, and bring it in line with today's European security environment. …

New Structure of Limitations. The Adaptation Agreement replaces the Treaty's obsolete bloc-to-bloc structure with nationally-based limits. Each state will have a national ceiling. States with territory in the CFE area of application will also have a territorial ceiling limiting the total amount of equipment that can be on their soil. This structure will, for example:

  1. eliminate the outdated requirement for our new NATO allies to coordinate their equipment limits with Russia and other former Warsaw Pact countries;
  2. reinforce the territorial sovereignty of individual States Parties by setting limits on a state-by-state basis; and
  3. retain the principle of special restrictions on forces, including Russian forces, in the Treaty's flank region.
Enhanced Transparency. The Adaptation Agreement builds on the original Treaty's intrusive verification and information regime. Under the adapted Treaty, States Parties will be required to provide more information than they provide on their forces currently. Quotas for mandatory on-site inspections will be increased.

Host Nation Consent. The Adaptation Agreement strengthens requirements for host nation consent to the presence of foreign forces, including notifications to all parties as to whether

such consent has been granted. These provisions address a key security concern of non-NATO states, including Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, and Azerbaijan. These requirements would not apply to NATO deployments in Kosovo because the Former Republic of Yugoslavia is not a CFE Party and, even if it were, the deployments there are authorized under the UN Charter.

Accession Clause. The Adaptation Agreement allows for extending this stable security regime by opening it to other European states. Accession would be subject to approval by all 30 Parties. …

CFE Final Act

The CFE Final Act…contains a number of political commitments… In particular:

  1. Responding to the concerns of many CFE States Parties about the implications of Russian deployments in Chechnya for CFE compliance, the Final Act includes a reaffirmation of Russia's November 1, 1999 commitment to fulfil all its obligations under the Treaty, in particular with respect to equipment levels in the flank region.
  2. The Final Act contains a Russian commitment to exercise restraint in its future deployments in the Kaliningrad and Pskov oblasts, which border the Baltic States
  3. A number of countries in the centre of Europe have committed not to increase, and in some cases to reduce, their CFE territorial ceilings.
  4. The Final Act also reflects agreements between Georgia and Russia and between Moldova and Russia on withdrawals of Russian forces from their territories, reached in the last few days. These agreements were developed consistent with the adapted Treaty's enhanced provisions on host nation consent to the presence of foreign forces."
On November 19, President Clinton issued a written statement on the changes to the Treaty. Acknowledged the shadow cast over the Treaty by Russian action in the Caucasus, the President stressed: "Russia has pledged that it will comply with the flank provisions of the adapted Treaty by reducing its forces in the [region]… This must be done as soon as possible. … I will only submit this agreement to the Senate for advice and consent for ratification when Russian forces have in fact been reduced to the flank levels set forth in the adapted Treaty…"

Anticipating considerable Senate cynicism about the value of the Treaty changes, the State Department issued the following staunch defence on December 9:

"The Treaty is good for NATO. It ensures that there are no second-class allies, and that there are no arms control constraints that could block NATO enlargement. It also protects NATO's essential military flexibility to deal with a range of possible requirements, from military exercises to crisis management.

The adapted Treaty retains special limits on Russian forces in the flank region. This was critical for our allies, Turkey and Norway, and for Russia's neighbors…

Enhanced transparency provisions will result in significantly more information on military forces…

The adapted Treaty enhances regional stability and underscores the sovereignty of Russia's neighbors…

Without adaptation, the current CFE Treaty would atrophy. The stability, transparency, and predictability provided by CFE have made it a cornerstone of European security."

Source: Fact Sheet - adapted Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, White House Fact Sheet, November 19; Fact Sheet - adapted CFE Treaty addresses NATO and Russian security concerns, USIS, December 9. Website address: http://www.usia.gov/products/washfile.htm

Clinton on CFE Treaty Amendments

Text of President Clinton's statement, Istanbul, Turkey, November 19, 1999.

"Today I joined the leaders of 30 nations in signing an Agreement that will adapt the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) to the post-Cold War world.

The original CFE Treaty limited the armaments of the eastern and western blocs, a division that has happily been erased since the collapse of the Warsaw Pact. The adapted Treaty will place legally binding limits on the armed forces of every individual country that is party to it, from the Atlantic to the Urals. It will require nations to provide more information about their deployment of military equipment. It will strengthen the requirement that host nations must consent [in advance] to the deployment of [any] foreign forces on their territory, which speaks directly to the interests of a number of nations of the former Soviet Union, including Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, and Azerbaijan.

The Adaptation Agreement will also open the Treaty to accession by other European countries. And it will preserve NATO's ability to fulfill its post-Cold War responsibilities.

In all these ways, the adapted Treaty will enhance peace, security and stability throughout Europe. Therefore, it is in America's national interest to sign it now, and to lock in the commitment of other nations to its terms. At the same time, in order to reap these benefits, we must have confidence that there will be real compliance.

Russia has pledged that it will comply with the flank provisions of the adapted Treaty by reducing its forces in the North Caucasus. This must be done as soon as possible. I will only submit this Agreement to the Senate for advice and consent to ratification when Russian forces have in fact been reduced to the flank levels set forth in the adapted Treaty."

Editor's note: The full text of the amendments agreed to the CFE Treaty at the OSCE Summit in Turkey is available from the OSCE website at: http://www.osceprag.cz/

Source: The White House website address is http://www.whitehouse.gov/WH/Welcome.html

© 2000 The Acronym Institute.

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