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No Georgia CFE ratification without Russian withdrawal - MP

RIA Novosti

08/06/2006 14:40

TBILISI, June 8 (RIA Novosti) - Georgia will not ratify the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe until Russia fulfils commitments it undertook at Istanbul in 1999, a senior Georgian parliamentarian said Thursday.

The commitments include withdrawal of Soviet-era bases now belonging to Russia from Georgia. Under an agreement signed in March, Russia will withdraw its two remaining military bases by 2008.

Nika Rurua, deputy head of the Georgian parliament's committee for defense and security, told RIA Novosti: "The Russian military base in Gudauta [in the breakaway province of Abkhazia] still exists. International observers who could confirm Russia's statements that the base has been closed are not admitted there."

The CFE treaty establishes limits on military hardware and troop numbers for all countries east of the Urals, and aims to establish a military balance on the continent. The Istanbul Commitments, signed along with the Adapted CFE treaty in Istanbul in 1999, concern Russia's military presence on its southern flank.

Rurua said the Gudauta base could be considered completely closed if the landing strip was destroyed and could not receive aircraft.

Russia has already started withdrawing military hardware from the Black Sea base of Batumi and Akhalkalaki, about 30 kilometers (19 miles) from the border with Turkey, a NATO member. The withdrawal is being monitored by a joint Georgian-Russian commission set up under the March agreement.

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