This may have been "the most memorable" summit of the ex-Soviet collective security grouping, "Aravot" writes in an editorial. President Putin is obviously trying to turn Russia's bilateral military agreements with former Soviet republics into a multilateral defense alliance. This, in turn, is part of his broader drive to reassert Russian influence in the former USSR.
"Haykakan Zhamanak" says the Yerevan summit's agenda is totally irrelevant to the needs and concerns of Armenia. "The Collective Security Treaty can be effective only with respect to the countries of Central Asia because they face a common threat and share the same strategic interests," agrees Stepan Grigorian, the Armenian government's former representative to the defense grouping. Another bad thing about Armenia's participation in the CST, according to the paper, is that it deals with "dubious allies" that cite the threat of Islamic fundamentalism to justify domestic repression. "We are finding ourselves at the forefront of an alien conflict and by joining the treaty we only serve Russia's interests at the expense of ours. There might arise a situation where all of our allies, or those called allies, will be thousands of miles away from us, whereas none of our immediate neighbors will be considered a friend."
"Hayots Ashkhar" has a diametrically opposite take on the development, declaring that the Yerevan summit has opened "new avenues of cooperation" for the signatory states. Most important, Armenia has received "clear guarantees against plausible threats emanating from its hostile surrounding." The CST is also broadening the framework of the Russian-Armenian military cooperation, the paper says. "Armenia is thus becoming the only south Caucasian state that builds its security on guarantees given on several levels."
For "Yerkir" the summit is a "cornerstone event" because it will lead to the strengthening of Armenia's and Karabakh's security. The paper also views the defense grouping as a "barrier against the West's penetration into the
"Iravunk" sees the formation of a "new military and political alliance that will act as a counterweight to NATO." The paper does not rule out the possibility of Iran joining the CST some time in the future. It also draws attention to the CST executive secretary's statement that any CST member states will help each other militarily even if they are attacked by other CIS countries. This is a clear warning to Azerbaijan not to seek a military solution to the Karabakh conflict and a chance for Armenia to harden its position on the issue.
"Haykakan Zhamanak" claims that Prime Minister Markarian may embark on a major shake-up of his cabinet in the coming days, with several ministers likely to lose their jobs. The premier is said to be unhappy with the fact that almost all of the ministers are now trying to "sideline" him and are "in direct touch" with the presidential administration. The ministers of state revenues, environment, agriculture and health are in line for dismissal.