National Assembly Ratifies CFE Treaty

YEREVAN (RL/RFE–Noyan Tapan)–The National Assembly ratified amendmen’s to the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty–Wednesday after receiving assurance that the country’s security will not be impaired.

The vote was 120 in favor–with four against and one abstention. The amendmen’s update the 1990 treaty’s so-called "flank limitations." In the case of Armenia–that means it must transfer to Russia part of its arms quota under the treaty.

During debate–deputies were told the Armenian defense ministry had dropped its reservations to some clauses of the revised treaty. Foreign Minister Alexander Arzumanian said the amendmen’s meet the security concerns of Armenia. Some deputies had expressed concern about the new arrangemen’s.

In presenting the provisions of the treaty–First Deputy Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian noted that Russia had voiced concern that arms quota set by the 1990 treaty did not ensure Russia’s security under present-day conditions.

Russia made a demand that its quota in the so-called "flank limitation," which include the Caucasus–the Northern Caucasus and a number of regions of Russia’should be revised.

Proceeding from political changes in Europe–the thirty states attending the Vienna Conference agreed to revise conventional forces in Europe flank restrictions. This document has been called "Flank Document". It meets Russia’s deman’s to have a "higher ceiling" in the flank zone– especially in the Caucasus.

Since there has been a general ceiling for the flank zone–the Caucasian quota earmarked for distribution between Russia–Armenia–Georgia and Azerbaijan under the Tashkent Treaty on May 15–1992–would be redistributed in favor to Russian from the Armenian and Georgian quotas as stipulated by the Tashkent agreement–thus increasing its military capabilities in the Caucasus.

The "Flank Document" says such redistribution may be carried out only following free negotiations–on the basis of full respect for sovereignty of member-countries.

Wednesday’s approval meant that Armenia will meet the May 15 deadline set for ratification of the amendmen’s by the 30 signatory states. Signatories are NATO members–Russia–Ukraine–the Central Europeans–Moldova–Belarus and Armenia–as well as Azerbaijan–Georgia and Kazakhstan.

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