Thursday, December 08, 2005

Russia Blocks OSCE Declaration - II

Roland Eggleston, commenting in RFE/RL Newsline's Endnote:
Diplomats have told RFE/RL that the draft final document failed to win Russian approval largely due to a paragraph referring to the presence of Russian military forces in Moldova's breakaway province of Transdniester. Russia has yet to withdraw its troops from Transdniester, despite having pledged in the summer of 1999 to do so gradually by the end of 2002. The OSCE hailed that pledge in the declaration adopted at its summit in Istanbul in November 1999.

U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns addressed that issue at a news conference on 6 December in Ljubljana. "We regret the continued lack of movement in 2005 on the withdrawal of Russian military forces from Moldova, and we call upon the Russian Federation to use its vast influence in the region to resume and complete that important work," he said. "This would also send an important signal to the separatist regime in Tiraspol that a status quo which they may find convenient will not last forever."

Diplomats said that while Russia had doubts about some of the other 22 paragraphs in the draft Ljubljana document, its veto of that document was sparked by one passage: "The foreign ministers of the OSCE note the lack of movement in 2005 on withdrawal of Russian forces from Moldova. They reaffirmed their shared determination to promote the fulfillment of that commitment as soon as possible."

Earlier that day, Burns had linked Moldova to U.S. approval of new agreement on conventional weapons. The proposed agreement says individual countries have the right to decide whether they want foreign troops on their territory or not. He said both Moldova and Georgia had made clear that they do not want Russian troops on their territory.

Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel, the outgoing OSCE chairman in office, concluded that "It is unfortunate that after six years we are still debating the 1999 Istanbul commitments on the withdrawal of Russian forces from Moldova."
See also in this blog: Russia Blocks OSCE Declaration
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