Armenia defends position in post-Soviet military organisation
Yerevan says a new secretary-general for the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) cannot be appointed without the explicit approval of Armenia.
Defence Minister David Tonoyan insists that any decision concerning the fate of the now vacant position must be decided on by complete consensus.
What is the CSTO?
The Collective Security Treaty Organization is a Russia-led military organization. Its charter says that the aim of the organization is to “strengthen peace, international and regional security and stability, and ensure the independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of member states”.
The CSTO was established in 1992 after the collapse of the USSR.
Georgia, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan soon left the ranks of the organization. The six remaining members of the CSTO are Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan.
What’s the issue?
The CSTO lost its secretary general, Yuri Khachaturov, after he was recalled by Armenia, given his involvement in a criminal case concerning the deadly events of 1 March 2008 when 10 people were killed as police tried to disperse protesting crowds after what many said were falsified elections in the country.
At the time, Khachaturov commanded the Yerevan garrison of military forces that were brought in to disperse protesters.
However, Yerevan does not want to relinquish its mandate for the post of secretary general in the CSTO until its term is up in 2020, after which the mandate will be passed to Belarus.
Meanwhile, other CSTO members say that the mandate should be handed over to Belarus as soon as possible.
Armenian Defense Minister David Tonoyan says that such an approach is unacceptable:
“It is not clear how a secretary general can be appointed without one of the participants of the organization. The charter does not allow [for this].”
Tonoyan said the Armenian Foreign Ministry is working on finding an appropriate replacement.
Belarus says that if Yerevan does not agree to hand over the mandate, a decision on the issue will be taken without Armenia’s participation.
“The charter provides for the possibility of making decisions based on a limited composition of member countries, but this is not the best option. Such decisions should be made by consensus,” said the representative of Belarus in the organization, Stanislav Zas.
Zas is Belarus’ candidate for the post of Secretary-General in CSTO.
Political analyst Stephan Safaryan notes that Yerevan will delay the resolution of this issue until 2020 when the official mandate of Armenia will expire.
In doing so, Safaryan says, Yerevan can express its displeasure at the idea of the appointment of a new secretary general and at the situation in the organization as a whole.
“Armenia’s interests are not being met. And these interests are not limited to the intrigue around the appointment of the secretary general. Obviously, Belarus does not want to reach a compromise with Armenia and wants to get the post of general secretary. Armenia wants to make it clear that this will not happen until its interests and rights are met.
“I have information that these problems are not limited only to the uncertain situation concerning [the position of] the secretary general. The prime minister spoke of a more expanded context. For example, this is a question of the sale of weapons to Azerbaijan by Armenia’s allies.”
Armenian officials have repeatedly expressed their outrage at the situation in this organization. In particular, in November 2018, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan stated that its partners will have to get used to having genuine relations with Armenia.
“All international partners should remember that there will no longer be such relations with Armenia to which [others] have been accustomed. We will not be in the role of a silent listener,” he stated.