Yerevan says it’s ready to block any rapprochement by Baku with Russian military bloc
Official Yerevan says it is prepared to block any effort to bring Baku closer to the Russian-lead military bloc, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).
The comment came in response to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuriy Borisov’s statement from September 12 that Azerbaijan will have the opportunity to receive observer status in the organisation.
The CSTO was created in 1992, immediately after the fall of the USSR. Georgia, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan quickly left the ranks of the CSTO, leaving six members: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan.
How the conversation started
Deputy Ministry of Foreign Affairs Shavarsh Kocharyan first announced that Armenia would block any efforts by unfriendly states to seek observer or partners status in the CSTO.
He declared this at a Foreign Affairs Committee meeting in the Armenian parliament, when amendments to the CSTO charter were being discussed. Several deputies expressed concern over the possibility that Azerbaijan could receive observer or partner status within the defense bloc.
Kocharyan explained to the deputies that the CSTO’s role is to ensure the security of its members. In the event that a country threatens Armenia directly, then any additional reasons to block that country’s status in the CSTO would not be needed. There is no reason for concern, as the CSTO charter states that member states commit to not taking action against other member states.
The prime minister of Armenia even spoke in October 2018 about the fact that Azerbaijan could never be a member or observer within the CSTO.
Pashinyan stated that the CSTO is “an important military and political organisation for us,” and that Yerevan will never agree to allow a country in as a member or observer which has “for many years, shot at” settlements in Armenia.
Russia not opposed to the idea
On 12 September, Deputy Prime Minister Yuriy Borisov stated that Russia is not against Azerbaijan having status as an observer in the CSTO:
“We have a very balanced and thoughtful policy in regards to defense technology cooperation with CSTO countries, as well as with Azerbaijan. But believe me, Russia is not interested in fueling the [Nagorno-Karabakh] conflict. On the contrary, Russia will help in resolving the conflict.”
Later Borisov added that should Armenia oppose such a move, Azerbaijan would not be able to obtain any status within the CSTO.
CSTO General Secretary Valeriy Semerikov also spoke about the possibility of Azerbaijan joining the organisation:
“Any state may express a desire to become a member, observer and partner, but there are certain restrictions in CSTO regulations. According to the regulatory framework of the CSTO, all decisions of membership, partnership and observer status must be made by consensus. If one state is not in agreement, there will be no decision made.”
Political scientist Armen Badalyan believes that although there is no issue with both Armenia and Azerbaijan being members of the Council of Europe, as that is not a military alliance, the CSTO is the body responsible for defending Armenia in the face of external aggression.
“Armenia and Azerbaijan have unresolved issues and are in a state of conflict, thus it is normal for our country to act in its own best external and political interests and not allow Azerbaijan in the CSTO.”
Political scientist Gagik Ambayan explained on his Facebook page:
“There has been an official probe for a while now to determine Armenia’s position, should Azerbaijan become a member and observer in the CSTO. Azerbaijan should not, under any circumstances, become a member or observer, even if this is what other ‘partners’ want.”