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    MOSCOW, APRIL 1, 2004, (RIA Novosti). - NATO's eastward expansion poses a threat to Russia's security, Alexander Grushko, head of the Foreign Ministry's Department of Pan-European Cooperation, said in an interview for the Vremya Novostei newspaper.

    NATO remains a military alliance and its enlargement is certainly not good news to Russia. "We cannot see any real security problems possible to solve by expanding NATO," Grushko remarked. NATO enlargement has always been the object of concern for Russia. Some mutually acceptable solutions were found at the initial stage of the expansion. Now, however, the situation is compounded by the fact that four of the newly admitted members (namely, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Slovenia) are not parties to the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty.

    This means that there are no legally binding instruments to ensure that the military arsenals of those countries do not exceed the top limit, the senior Russian diplomat explained. The CFE Treaty is a cornerstone of military security on the European continent, a set of rules to be followed by all.

    Grushko called on the NATO newcomers to sign up to the treaty, now open for any country to join, whether a member or a non-member of the alliance. By following suit, former Yugoslav countries could make a significant contribution to the enhancement of security in the Balkans and the entire European continent. And Cyprus' accession would consolidate the military guarantees for the settlement of the Cypriot conflict.

    We mustn't let the CFE break up, otherwise the old regime of arms control will not survive the new geopolitical changes, Grushko stressed.

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