Russia satisfied with proposed way for new NATO members to join CFE Treaty

Russia is satisfied with the way the issue of new NATO members' joining the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty was resolved at the session of the Russia-NATO Council held on April 2 in Brussels, a diplomatic source told RIA Novosti.

The two parties succeeded in resolving the main problem causing Moscow's concern in respect of the NATO eastward expansion. NATO Secretary General as well as the four new member-states assured Moscow that the latter were ready to join the CFE Treaty as soon as it enters into force.

The above commitments were consolidated by an exchange of official letters between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.

According to the source, NATO Secretary General officially notified the Russian side of seven new members' accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Four of the newcomers - Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Slovenia - are not parties to the CFE Treaty. Jaap de Hoop Scheffer pointed out in his letter that the fact of "these countries' accession to NATO implies their commitment to all the political agreements between the Russian Federation and NATO, including the Founding Act, The Rome Declaration 'Russia-NATO: New Partnership', and the Statement adopted by Foreign Ministers at the 4 June 2003 Russia-NATO Council in Madrid".

In his letter of reply, Sergei Lavrov emphasized the great importance of the statement made by the parties in Madrid to the effect that political guarantees of military restraint apply in full measure to the new member-states joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

In this context, the military restraint implies that the new NATO members shall not deploy nuclear weapons on their territory, nor shall they set up sites for stockpiling such weapons or develop any other infrastructure for these purposes, that the new member-states shall show restraint with regard to the levels and deployment capabilities of their armed forces as well as refrain from deployment on a permanent basis of substantial armed forces, both land- and air-based. Moreover, these states shall maintain on their territories only such military potentials that are commensurate with their national security needs.

The Russian Foreign Minister underlines in his letter that Russia and all NATO member-states are ready to step up the process of ratification of the Agreement on CFE Treaty Adaptation in order to expedite its entry into legal force. The letter also points to the four new members' readiness to join the adopted CFE Treaty as soon as it goes into effect and to act in full compliance with the aims and principles of the Treaty prior to that date.

"Considered together with the political assurances made by NATO Secretary General and Foreign Ministers of the Baltic states and Slovenia, this is a very important step in the context of maintaining stability and security in Europe," the source told RIA Novosti.

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