Yeltsin calls for blanket security for all Europe

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BORIS YELTSIN yesterday warned against creating zones of 'greater and lesser security', and called for a greater role to be given to the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE).

Speaking at a dinner on the first day of a three-day visit to Germany, the Russian leader said the CSCE, which brings together 52 nations from Western and Eastern Europe, should become an 'effective regional organisation'. It could, he suggested, be an umbrella organisation, under whose roof the actions of Nato and the defence arm of the European Union, the WEU, could be co-ordinated.

In an oblique criticism of both the European Union and Nato, Mr Yeltsin told his host, Chancellor Helmut Kohl: 'A new united Europe cannot be an exclusive club for the chosen. Equally, the solution of security problems cannot be a privilege of the chosen.'

Earlier, Mr Kohl announced agreement had been reached on the thorny question of farewell ceremonies for the Russian forces, who are due to leave Germany by the end of August. The Russians wanted to be part of the planned ceremonies on 8 September, which will involve the British, French, and Americans. Equally, the Germans were determined that the farewell to the Russians should be kept as a separate ceremony. Under the half-compromise struck yesterday, the ceremonies will still be separate. Mr Kohl agreed, however, there would be no ceremony in Weimar, to which the Russians had objected. Instead, there will be a formal leave-taking, attended by Chancellor Kohl and President Yeltsin, in Berlin.

The tone of Mr Kohl's and Mr Yeltsin's remarks emphasised the closeness of the ties between the two countries, despite what Mr Kohl called the suffering 'that we have inflicted on each other'. It was agreed a telephone hotline would be set up between Bonn and Moscow. Mr Yeltsin said Germany was Russia's 'most important trading partner', and emphasised the national and cultural historical ties, too.

Mr Yeltsin's emphasis on the importance of CSCE may herald a new diplomatic tack. Moscow has made increasingly clear that it is unenthusiastic about the Partnership for Peace that is being offered by Nato.

In an implicit rejection of criticisms of Russian policy in former Soviet republics, Mr Yeltsin emphasised: 'We have no territorial claims on any state. Our military doctrine only has a defensive character.'

The Christian Democrats' foreign affairs spokesman, Karl Lamers, has emphasised German worries about the imperial role Russia still appears to play. In a paper on helping the Russian reform process, he says: 'We want Russia to be rooted in Europe, and to offer it a place which corresponds to its greatness. But belonging to the new Europe means giving up any idea of being a dominant power, and giving up claims to special rights with regard to neighbours.'