The NATO nations have concluded a summit in Istanbul. This was the first time the alliance had gathered for a meeting since its eastward enlargement and the admittance of former socialist countries. The Russia-NATO Council held a meeting on the sidelines of the summit, where representatives of the two parties only "took an inventory" of problems facing the partner-countries. These problems will be addressed at a different forum and on a different level. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov represented Russia in Istanbul. He had to endure a rather tough dispute with the allied NATO forces, as the latter took a firm position urging Russia to withdraw its forces from Georgia and Moldova. They insisted that Moscow fulfill the obligations it took on at the OSCE summit in Istanbul five years ago. They also linked the ratification of the adjusted Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) to the withdrawal.
Mr. Lavrov objected to the link between CFE ratification and the withdrawal of the Russian bases from Georgia and Moldova, saying there were no legal links between those issues. "These demands are not legally correct as agreements on settling things with the bases in Georgia and the pullout of Russia military equipment from the Dniester region were of a political rather than legal nature," said Mr. Lavrov. "They are being fulfilled but no strict withdrawal deadlines were set."
Mr. Lavrov, for his part, reproached NATO for developing its military presence in the Baltics, which is the most stable region in Europe, writes Kommersant. "NATO continues to rely largely on its internal regulations seeking to protect its members rather than on realistic combined assessments of security threats in different regions," the Russian minister concluded, calling on NATO to show restraint at least in the Baltic region, writes the paper.
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