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The CFE Treaty

The CFE Treaty – what Turkey envisages and seeks

12 Apr, 2024

Turkey's decision to suspend the implementation of the CFE (Conventional Forces in Europe) treaty, the Conventional Forces of Europe, caused reasonable questions and questions, such as what this Treaty is, how it came about, what it provides and why Turkey is doing it. Let's see how the Treaty developed..


the history

In 1973, the Mutual and Balanced Force Reduction (MBFR) talks between the United States, the USSR and other members of NATO and the Warsaw Pact opened in Vienna. The aim was to reach an agreement on the reduction of troops and armaments in Central Europe, including the Benelux countries, East Germany, West Germany, Poland and Czechoslovakia. The sides reached a preliminary agreement to reduce the number of ground troops to 700.000 on each side and air troops to 200.000. In the end, the talks did not come to an end. In April–June 1986, the USSR and the Warsaw Pact demanded Europe-wide reductions, and in December 1986, NATO proposed the creation of a new negotiating forum to replace the MBFR and discuss new Europe-wide reductions.

Thus, the Committee on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) meeting in Vienna (1986-1989) approved a mandate for negotiations at the level of conventional armed forces in Europe within the framework of the CSCE between the countries of NATO and the Warsaw Pact. On 2 February 1989 the talks were officially concluded and on 9 March 1989 negotiations on the CFE began and finally on 19 November 1990, the CFE Treaty was signed in Paris. The main objective of the Treaty was to reduce the possibility of surprise armed attack and the launching of major offensive operations in Europe.

On 15 May 1992, the States Parties signed the Tashkent Agreement on the Principles and Procedures for the Implementation of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, which redistributes the equipment and force objectives of the former USSR among the signatories. 


What does the Treaty provide?

Article IV (paragraph 1) of the Treaty established equal restrictions on the two Coalitions by briefly stating the following:  

  • 000 tanks (no more than 16.500 in active units),
  • 000 armored vehicles (no more than 27.300 in active units), of which a maximum of 18.000 will be armored fighting vehicles (AVMs)
  • 000 guns (17.000 in active units),
  • 800 fighter jets.
  • 000 attack helicopters.
  • It also provided that weapon systems not in active units would be placed in designated permanent storage areas
  • It required that no State Party possess more than about one-third of the armaments in the area of ​​application (Article VI), defined as "the entire land territory of the States Parties in Europe from the Atlantic Ocean to the Ural Mountains, including all European islands territories of the States Parties.
  • Each State Party to provide information on the maximum levels of their weapons and equipment.  
  • States Parties to provide notifications and exchange information between, and the right of each State to conduct inspections and to accept such inspections.

On July 10, 1992, in Helsinki, the States Parties to the CFE Treaty signed the "final act of the Negotiation on the Personnel Strength of Conventional Armed Forces in Europe" the CFE-1A Agreement, which established limits on the level of military personnel, except naval forces, internal security forces and forces under UN command. The Agreement provided for exchanges of information on staff numbers, inspections to verify compliance. It entered into force on 9 November 1992 and unlike the CFE Treaty, the CFE-1A Agreement is a politically binding instrument and therefore does not need ratification.

In 2007, Russia withdrew from the treaty protesting the anti-missile shield being designed by the US. Thus NATO and the European Union no longer receive from December 15, 2007 any information about Russia's conventional forces. Russia finally formally withdrew from the CFE treaty last year on November 7, 2023. After Russia's withdrawal, the US suspended the implementation of the treaty.


Turkey is changing its policy

Turkey's sudden decision to suspend the implementation of the CFE treaty marks a major shift in its national policy. It has until now been obliged to inform other member states of the deployment and location of its conventional weapons, in a spirit of reciprocity. And he had succeeded in the SE region, a status of exception, where he could keep the extra material not provided for by the Treaty. With this decision, Turkey now has the ability to deploy conventional weapons and forces anywhere on its territory and in any quantity it wishes, without any restrictions and without the need to inform other states. This opens new avenues for the deployment of conventional weapons and forces, particularly in areas near the Caucasus and in the Kurdish regions outside Turkey.

The CFE treaty had apparently been partially dormant for years, but the various states remained within the stipulated amounts of conventional forces and weapon systems originally agreed upon. Any change in the military balance of the states can affect diplomatic relations, regional security and the balance of power in the region, especially between neighboring states such as between Greece and Turkey with relations of tension and threats from Turkey especially in recent years. The Turks, as Professor Serhat Güvendes says, claim that it constitutes “response to Russia's attitude and in practice staying in the treaty had no practical value", and the journalist Murat Getkin, citing diplomatic information, states that "Turkey stopped implementing the treaty because it has lost its meaning».



But it is estimated that the reasons for the suspension of Turkey's participation in the Treaty are not so simple. After the suspension comes the withdrawal when the pursuits have been completed. And it seems that Turkey's goal is to increase Turkey's military forces, while simultaneously increasing its weapon systems. Her gigantic armaments program shows her intentions. Why is it arming itself at such a rapid pace and in an incredible amount of weapon systems if it has no intention of using them? From which neighbor is Turkey threatened today and overarmed? Of no one, it is clear, since it currently has the second largest army in NATO and the first in Europe. Assessing the situation, even if we are experiencing a temporary period of lull, we should follow the neighbor in her armament adventures, so that we are aware, determined to be ready if required. It is estimated that it will soon be used against the Kurds at home, but also abroad (Syria, Iraq). It is estimated that it is preparing for a total war against Hellenism, Greece and Cyprus, if its plans for control of Cyprus and half of the Aegean are not implemented (25th Mesimbrinos) and the two Greek states do not succumb to coercive diplomacy with the threat of using military force. We must be constantly aware, determined and ready if required. And to achieve it, let us do the same. Let us also suspend our participation, so that we have an army, where it is deemed appropriate, following the Turkish developments.

«The times of envy». Thucydides. 

photo Konevi / https://pixabay.com 

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