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Russian Foreign Minister Spokesperson on NATO and the CFE Treaty, 8 December 2008

Response by Russian MFA Spokesman Andrei Nesterenko to a Media Question Relating to Position Set Out by NATO Council on the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, 8 December 2008.

Question: The communique adopted a few days ago by the NATO Council at foreign ministers level sets out the approaches of the alliance's countries to the problem of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE Treaty). Do they have anything new of interest to the Russian side?

Answer: Regrettably, this text has nothing truly new. The impression is that the NATO members simply took the decisions of previous years from the shelf, blew the dust off them, and slightly diluted them with phrases on topical themes.

What do we see in the appropriate paragraph of the communique? All the same worn out words about the CFE Treaty of 1990 vintage as a "cornerstone of European security" (not corresponding to reality for a long time now; otherwise, why should talks have been started for its adaptation 12 years ago); references to NATO's 2006 positions as though nothing has changed since then; and being "deeply concerned" over Russia's moratorium on the CFE Treaty, which, shall we note, could not be there if the western partners had responded to our many proposals. But instead - fresh attempts to place the blame for the current state of affairs at Russia's doorstep (with "Russian actions in Georgia" chosen as a pretext). The assurances of a commitment to security based on cooperation are interspersed with meaningful "warnings" that "the current situation, where NATO CFE allies implement the Treaty while Russia does not, cannot last indefinitely."

It seems that while advertising their CFE proposals, the NATO members themselves came to believe that these proposals address all of Russia's stated concerns. We, however, still think that we ourselves can assess how far the specific approaches of the partners correspond to the security interests of Russia. In our view, the "parallel actions package," crafted by the US and backed by the other NATO countries, needs serious further elaboration. As of now, it still represents a list of concrete steps which Russia should take to accommodate the NATO nations in exchange for their rather abstract promises to "consider" Russia's concerns sometime in the indefinite future. To call such proposals constructive and forward looking would be at least naive.

The NATO countries urge Russia to work in cooperation with them to achieve consensus on the basis of the "parallel actions package." But isn't this a case of a mistaken addressee? It was Russia that at the Extraordinary Conference of the States Parties to the CFE Treaty in summer 2007 advanced far-reaching initiatives to restore CFE's viability and the "parallel actions package" is but an attempt of responding to them. Over recent months the Russian side has put forward a whole array of additional suggestions and ideas (it might have been more useful for the CFE Treaty, if the NATO Council communique had contained answers to them). Finally, it wasn't we who took a pause in dialogue after the August crisis in Transcaucasia, thus losing four months.

Russia does not need being urged to cooperate. We stand ready for the continuation of a serious dialogue to restore the viability of the CFE Treaty. But it is necessary that our partners too should, at last, realize that the other side's security interests ought to be respected in deeds, not words, for its success. And not try to use the arms control negotiations to impose their solutions regarding entirely different matters, for example, the problem of "frozen conflicts" on the territory of the former USSR. Such attempts will produce no results, nor improve the situation surrounding the Treaty.

Another Russian-American meeting on the CFE Treaty will be held one of these days. We would like to hope that we will, at last, hear some constructive proposals at it.

Source: Russian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, www.russianembassy.org.

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