48 States Limit Maneuvers, Agree on Swap of Information
VIENNA, Austria (AP) _ The nations of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe agreed Wednesday to limit military maneuvers and share more information on the movement of soldiers and tanks in Europe.
The agreement originally was aimed to extend the measures to the Central Asian states of the former Soviet Union, diplomats said. But the five new Central Asian nations were not present.
The agreement was to take effect May 1 after more than three years of negotiations. It will be confirmed at a conference summit in Helsinki, Finland, July 9-11.
Polish Ambassador Jerzy Novak, who drafted Wednesday’s agreement, noted it could have prevented maneuvers such as the declaration of martial law in his country in 1981.
One test of the new accord could be Yugoslavia, where tens of thousands of federal troops have been involved in war or have been withdrawing from independence-minded republics.
Under the accord, each of the 48 CSCE nations is limited to one military exercise involving more than 40,000 troops and 900 tanks every two years. Other provisions set a maximum of three exercises a year involving more than 25,000 troops or 400 battle tanks, and six exercises annually of more than 13,000 troops or 300 battle tanks.
With the Cold War over, most military maneuvers in Europe involve far fewer than 40,000 troops.
Other stipulations call on states to exchange more detailed information, including photographs, before deploying new weapons.
The conference includes Canada, the United States and Europe, including all former Soviet republics except Georgia.
The agreement is supposed to be complemented at Helsinki with a politically binding accord limiting the size of conventional forces.
Diplomats close to those negotiations say disputes between Russia and the Ukraine and the difficulty of dividing the old Soviet armed forces are hampering progress.