Arms Inspection Finds No CFE Treaty Violations in Armenia

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–A team of French inspectors verifying Armenia’s compliance with the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty this week has found no violations in its arms quotas–officials in Yerevan said on Saturday.

"The inspectors have concluded in their report that Armenia does not breach the CFE treaty," Ara Badalian–a senior official in the Armenian foreign ministry–told RFE/RL. He said the French team–which also included representatives of Belgium and Turkey–inspected the weaponry of "one army detachment near Yerevan" on May 11-14 and declared it in full compliance with the terms of the treaty.

Signed in 1990 and amended after the break-up of the Soviet Union by 30 mostly European states–the CFE treaty sets specific limits on the number of weapons each signatory can have. The quotas apply to tanks–armored personnel carriers–artillery systems–military aircraft and attack helicopters.

Under the terms of the treaty–the Armenian armed forces can be checked for up to three times a year by other signatories. A Turkish team visited Armenia in mid-April for the first inspection this year. Foreign ministry sources said Armenian officials visited Turkey earlier this month on a first ever verification mission abroad.

The CFE treaty set equal quotas for the three Transcaucasian states. In 1997–Yerevan ceded part of its quotas to Russian troops stationed on Armenian territory.

Armenia has repeatedly accused Azerbaijan of exceeding its CFE ceilings in arms allocations. The Armenian foreign ministry alleged last February that Baku "continues to aggressively import arms from various countries" but did not elaborate. Armenia and Azerbaijan are bound by a verbal "gentlemen’s agreement" not to inspect each other’s armamen’s. The weaponry of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic’s armed forces is not accounted by any international treaty.

Another foreign ministry official–Artur Markosian–said the CFE signatories have agreed in principle on how to revise the treaty to reflect new realities as is demanded by some countries including Russia. He said a new document is expected to be signed at the Istanbul summit of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe next November.

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