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Russian chief of staff comes to Brussels to discuss CFE

RIA Novosti

10/05/2007 18:01 BRUSSELS, May 10 (RIA Novosti) - A NATO-Russia chiefs-of-staff meeting opened in Brussels Thursday amid tension surrounding a key arms control treaty in Europe.

Russia's representative at the Joint Permanent NATO-Russia Council meeting, Yury Baluyevsky, has come to Brussels to explain Russia's recent statements on the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe and the U.S. plans to deploy part of its missile defense system in Central Europe.

"We hope our concerns on these issues will be heard," Baluyevsky said, describing the CFE Treaty as the cornerstone of European security.

"Russia has fulfilled its commitments on military withdrawal from the South Caucasus," he said, "There is no link between Russian military pullouts from Georgia and Transdnestr and the ratification of this treaty by NATO member states."

"NATO countries seem to be frightened by the Russian President's remarks about [Russia's] possible revision of the CFE Treaty," he added.

The Russian chief of staff also called for a thoughtful analysis of real reasons behind the U.S. plans to deploy missile defenses in Central Europe.

"This should not be an analysis done by insiders, but on a broad basis. The NATO-Russia Council may be a good platform for this dialogue. This issue is sensitive for the entire continent, which means that involving other non-NATO European states might also be in order," he said.

Other issues on the table will include the discussions of new action plans for 2008 and debate on the current operations, such as war on terror and Operation Active Endeavor on the Black Sea, which includes Russia.

The CFE Treaty was signed in 1990 by the then-22 NATO members and the now defunct Warsaw Pact to enhance arms control in Europe, and amended in 1999 in Istanbul in line with post-Cold War realities.

NATO countries have not ratified the new version, demanding that Russia first withdraw from Soviet-era bases from Georgia and Moldova under its Istanbul commitments. Moscow says there is no link between the two documents, and has argued that NATO newcomers Slovakia and the three Baltic states have not joined the CFE at all, despite preliminary agreement that they would do so.

Russian President Vladimir Putin Putin also suggested that Russia might suspend its obligations under CFE if talks with NATO countries show no visible progress in its implementation. His statement came following U.S. plans to deploy elements of its missile defense shield in Central Europe, as well as to finance nongovernmental organizations and opposition parties in Russia in a bid to improve the country's democratic record. Moscow regards the plans as a security threat and meddling in its internal affairs.

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