Election observers lack credibility: Russian FM

The body charged with observing Russia's parliamentary elections is riddled with double standards and must be reformed, according to the country's Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov.

He says in its current form the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) lacks credibility.

Meeting with his Finnish counterpart Ilkka Kanerva,  Lavrov urged Finland – the country that will assume the OSCE chairmanship in 2008 – to begin discussing “within the frame work of the organisation the problems with observers”.

The Russian minister said, “We ask you to assist in launching discussions of that problem instead of burying the head in the sand.”

The comments were made at the foreign ministers’ meeting which is part of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC) forum that’s been taking place in the Finnish city of Rovaniemi.

Among other topics discussed was the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE). Lavrov has once again reinstated that Russia will suspend its participation in the treaty as of December 12.
The solution of the CFE treaty problem, Lavrov said, stems from Russia’s partners who should ratify the adapted version of the agreement.

The landmark arms control agreement, signed in 1990, limits the number of tanks, aircraft and other military hardware that can be deployed in Europe. It also establishes a military balance between NATO and the former Warsaw Pact countries.

Nine years later it was amended to adapt to post-Cold War realities. The new version of the treaty, however, cannot come into legal force until all thirty countries ratify it.

Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus have already done so, although some NATO members have not.