USIS Washington File

19 November 1999

OSCE Summit Ends on Upbeat Tone

(Nov. 19: Delegates sign two historic security documents) (970)
By Wendy S. Ross
Washington File White House Correspondent

Istanbul -- The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
(OSCE) Summit ended here November 19 on an upbeat tone with delegates
signing two important documents -- one that revises the existing
Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) to reflect the
changes of the post-Cold War world and the other, a new European
Security Charter, providing ways for the OSCE to deal with conflicts
within countries, such as Kosovo and Chechnya, as well as conflicts
between nations.

The original CFE Treaty, signed in Paris in 1990 at the close of the
Cold War by the 22 NATO and Warsaw Pact nations, limited the armaments
of the Eastern and Western blocs.

The adapted treaty, signed here today by representatives of 30
independent nations, replaces the original's outdated bloc-to-bloc
structure with nationally-based limits.

The countries signing were: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium,
Britain, Bulgaria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France,
Germany, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Kazakhstan,
Luxembourg, Moldova, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania,
the Russian Federation, the Slovak Republic, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine,
and the United States

The adapted Treaty places legally binding national ceilings on the
conventional armed forces of every country party to it, and retains
the principle of special restrictions on forces, including Russian
forces, in the Treaty's flank region.

It also provides an accession clause that would open it to new
European members, subject to approval by each of its 30 parties.

In a statement, President Clinton explained that the adapted Treaty,
once ratified by all parties, will require each nation to provide more
information than before about its deployment of military equipment,
and will strengthen the requirements that host nations must consent in
advance to any deployment of foreign forces on their territory.

This, Clinton said, "speaks directly to the interests of a number of
nations of the former Soviet Union, including Ukraine, Moldova,
Georgia, and Azerbaijan."

Clinton said 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," he said.

The Treaty is in America's national interest, Clinton said, but he
made clear he will not submit it to the U.S. Senate for advice and
consent to ratification until Russian forces "have in fact been
reduced to the flank levels" set forth in the adapted Treaty.

In addition to the Treaty, a CFE Final Act, containing a number of
political commitments, was also signed by the 30 countries.

The Final Act, a White House statement says, responds to the concerns
of many nations about the implications of Russian deployments in
Chechnya by including a reaffirmation of Russia's November 1, 1999
commitment to fulfill all its obligations under the Treaty, in
particular with respect to equipment levels in the flank region.

The Final Act also contains a Russian commitment to exercise restraint
in its future deployments in the Kaliningrad and Pskov oblasts, which
border the Baltic states, and it 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, the White
House statement says.

Later in the morning of November 19, all 54 OSCE member nations,
including Russia, signed the new OSCE Charter for European Security at
an elaborate ceremony at the Palace Ciragan Hotel, where the bulk of
the summit discussions took place.

The Charter establishes conflict resolution procedures and improved
ways that the OSCE can work to protect human rights and minority
rights within Europe.

"We are committed to preventing the outbreak of violent conflicts
wherever possible," the Charter says. "The steps we have agreed to
take in this Charter will strengthen the OSCE's ability in this
respect as well as its capacity to settle conflicts and to
rehabilitate societies ravaged by war and destruction. The Charter
will contribute to the formation of a common and indivisible security
space. It will advance the creation of an OSCE area free of dividing
lines and zones with different levels of security."

President Clinton said it is "encouraging" that Russia signed the
document and has invited the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Norway's Foreign
Minister Knut Vollebaek, to visit Chechnya to see for himself what is
occurring in that war-torn area.

Russian President Boris Yeltsin, at the opening session of the OSCE
Summit November 18, said that how Russia deals with terrorism in
Chechnya is an internal issue and that the OSCE should not interfere.
But later in the day Russia agreed to let Vollebaek take a high-level
delegation of OSCE members to Chechnya.

"The Charter specifically says that we do have to be concerned about
internal affairs in other countries," Clinton said. "So this is a
significant move by Russia."

He added that "obviously, we've got a lot of turns in the road on
Chechnya before it's resolved, but I would say that, compared to how
things were when we all got here, those are two things that are

The two-day Summit ended with OSCE Chairman-in-Office Vollebaek
announcing the adoption of "The Istanbul Summit Declaration"
summarizing OSCE activities.

Vollebaek said he is grateful to Romania for its offer to exercise the
function of Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE in the year 2001. He also
said he is grateful that Max van der Stoel has offered to continue in
his position as High Commissioner on National Minorities.

"It is his personal competence and commitment that has made the High
Commissioner on National Minorities the important institution it has
become," Vollebaek said of Van der Stoel.

(The Washington File is a product of the Office of International
Information Programs, U.S. Department of State)