Vol. 1, No. 178, 12 December 1997
CZECH SOCIAL DEMOCRATS BACK NATO INTEGRATION.
Addressing a conference on NATO integration on 11 December,
CSSD leader Milos Zeman said his party fully supports the Czech
Republic's integration into NATO and the European Union, an
RFE/RL correspondent reported. He promised that if the CSSD
comes to power, the country's foreign policy orientation will
not change. Zeman said the CSSD wants accession to NATO to be
submitted to a referendum because the issue is so important
and deserves more public debate. He said he hoped the results
of the referendum would show an even higher backing for
joining NATO than the 85 percent support showed by the
Hungarians. NATO special advisor for Central and Eastern
Europe Chris Donnelly told the conference that the socialist
system had destroyed the region's economies by military
overspending and that NATO has no intention of making similar
demands on its members. MS
SLOW PROGRESS ON NEW CONVENTIONAL ARMS
by Roland Eggleston
Negotiators in Vienna hope that a new treaty limiting the
danger of an arms build-up in Europe can be achieved by the
end of next year, although they warn considerable political will
to reach agreement will be required on the part of some
The negotiators are revising the 1990 CFE treaty between
NATO and the former Warsaw Pact, which placed limits on the
number of tanks, artillery, armored cars, war planes, and battle
helicopters located between the Atlantic and the Urals. The
new treaty will replace the bloc-to-bloc ceilings imposed on
both alliances with national and territorial ceilings.
National ceilings place a limit on the size of each country's
armed forces, while the territorial ceilings impose a limit on the
overall number of military forces deployed in any single
country. In most cases, the territorial ceilings will be higher
than the national ones, but the actual limits are still being
A senior negotiator told RFE/RL that the national and
territorial ceilings on the number of tanks, artillery, and other
weapons are among the most difficult issues to resolve. "They
go to the heart of the security of individual states, many of
which remain suspicious of each other" he said. "Each
government wants to be certain that the treaty allows it
enough forces to meet its legitimate defense requirements."
Thirty countries are participating in the negotiations,
including the U.S., Russia, and most of the states of Western,
Central and Eastern Europe, including Armenia, Azerbaijan,
Georgia, and Moldova. The neutral countries and Central Asian
states, with the exception of Kazakhstan, are not involved.
Gregory Govan, the chief U.S. negotiator, told RFE/RL that
the talks are proceeding "slowly but methodically." He said one
of the biggest political problems is Russia's attempts to impose
conditions that would limit the effects of NATO enlargement.
For example, Russia wants to restrict the degree to which the
original 16 members of NATO can deploy forces on the
territory of the alliance's new members, either permanently or
NATO believes fixed limits should be established only for
ground forces, while Russia wants also to include fixed limits
for warplanes and battle helicopters. NATO argues that
including aircraft and helicopters is unrealistic. It is relatively
easy for inspectors to determine whether ground forces are
within the limits set by a treaty. But aircraft and helicopters
can be flown in and out of a territory within minutes, making
effective inspection virtually impossible.
NATO diplomats say the alliance considers Russia's fears
of a possible buildup of Western military power in countries
near its borders to be exaggerated. However, it understands
those fears and is trying to quell them. To this end, the U.S. has
proposed the creation of a "zone of stability" in which the size
of military forces would be limited. However, it insists that the
zone include other countries as well as the new NATO
Under the U.S. proposal--which has now been accepted
by NATO as a whole--the "zone of stability" would include
Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Belarus, northern Ukraine,
and Kaliningrad. The U.S. suggests that territorial limits in this
zone would be the same as the present national limits,
effectively preventing a build-up of foreign forces in any of
those countries. The same conditions would apply until the next
review of the treaty, scheduled for 2001. The U.S. further
proposes that the treaty be reviewed every five years.
Govan says that, in addition to political issues, there are
many technical problems to be resolved. Among them is the
system for checking that signatories are honoring the treaty.
"One of the best features of the 1990 CFE treaty was its system
of verification and transparency," he said. "Everyone agrees
that it worked well and should be continued. The problem is
how to maintain the same degree of assurance and confidence
in a much more complicated treaty."
According to Govan, the attitude of some countries is also
a problem. "One group of countries at the talks has strong ideas
on how a future treaty on conventional forces should look," he
said. "There are other countries that don't have this outlook.
Some have difficulties adjusting to a new kind of treaty that is
not based on a bloc-to-bloc approach. Govan did not identify
any countries but acknowledged that some NATO countries are
among those nostalgic for the ease of decision-making under
the old system.
Originally, the new CFE treaty was expected to be ready
by summer 1998, but few diplomats believe this timetable is
realistic. Most now hope the negotiations can be completed by
November 1998, allowing the new treaty to be signed in
December by the heads of government attending a summit
meeting of the Organization on Security and Cooperation in
Europe. However, the signing ceremony is still many months
and many problems away.
The author writes regularly for RFE/RL.
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