The head of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) has expressed serious concern at the latest escalation of fighting in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone during his latest visit to Yerevan.
Nikolay Bordyuzha, the CSTO secretary general, began the trip late on Wednesday with talks with Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian.
A statement by the Armenian Foreign Ministry quoted Bordyuzha as saying that he is “deeply concerned” about recent weeks’ deadly ceasefire violations along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and “the line of contact” around Karabakh. He also called for a peaceful resolution of the conflict.
In brief comments to RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) made after the talks, Bordyuzha stopped short of endorsing Yerevan’s position on the escalation or signaling greater CSTO support for Armenia, which is a member of the defense pact, unlike Azerbaijan. “The position of the CSTO has been expressed on many occasions and in an absolutely adequate manner,” he said, declining to comment further.
Speaking at a January 30 news conference in Moscow, Bordyuzha reportedly ruled out a direct CSTO intervention in the Karabakh dispute. Armenian critics of close military ties with Russia seized upon those remarks to again accuse the CSTO of failing to honor its defense obligations to a member state.
Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian dismissed such criticism on January 27. Ohanian insisted that the Armenian army is strong enough to contain Azerbaijan without a direct Russian or CSTO intervention. He said Yerevan will therefore not appeal to the CSTO for assistance in the face of what it calls growing ceasefire violations by Azerbaijani forces.
Ohanian met with Bordyuzha on Thursday. A statement on the meeting released by his press office did not explicitly mention the Armenian-Azerbaijani fighting. It said they discussed ways of strengthening the CSTO’s “military component” and preparations for a CSTO military exercise which Armenia will host later this year.