YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Citing “unprecedented” security threats emanating from neighboring Turkey, Armenia on Wednesday, July 29, banned Turkish officers from inspecting Armenian military bases and verifying Yerevan’s compliance with an international arms control treaty.
It announced the decision as Turkey and Azerbaijan began joint military exercises in the wake of the deadly attack by Azerbaijan on Armenia starting July 12.
Signed in 1990 and revised in 1999, the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) places specific limits on the deployment of troops and heavy weapons from the Atlantic coast to Russia’s Ural mountains. Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan signed it after gaining independence.
Signatories to the treaty are allowed to inspect each other’s compliance with the arms ceilings through random visits to practically any military base. Military inspectors from Turkey and other NATO member states have regularly visited Armenia since the mid-1990s. The Armenian Defense Ministry had first sent a group of CFE inspectors to eastern Turkey in March 2010.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry said it informed the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on Wednesday that Yerevan has decided to “suspend” Turkish inspections of its armed forces.
In a statement, the ministry attributed the move to Turkey’s “unilateral support to Azerbaijan” and “unprecedented threats against Armenia” voiced following the border clashes that broke out on July 12. It also pointed to the Turkish-Azerbaijani war games, saying that they “further aggravate the situation” in the Karabakh conflict zone.