Armenia on Monday again criticized other ex-Soviet states aligned in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) for not openly backing it in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, saying that their stance undermines the credibility of the Russian-led defense pact.
Speaking at a CSTO summit in Moscow, President Serzh Sarkisian said they should “learn” from NATO member states’ unanimous support for Turkey shown after last month’s downing of a Russian warplane near the Syrian-Turkish border.
“Every time the armed forces of Azerbaijan use various small arms, mortars and artillery systems against the Republic of Armenia, they also shoot at Astana, Dushanbe, Bishkek, Moscow and Minsk,” he said, listing the capitals of three Central Asian states as well as Russia and Belarus.
Sarkisian cited a clause in the CSTO statutes stipulating that military aggression against one CSTO member also constitutes an attack on its military allies. “If we not only do not apply this article, do not discuss the existing situation, do not bother to pick up the phone and find out what is happening in allied Armenia but also vote against its interests in international organizations … then we simply put our whole Organization and its prestige and significance under that fire,” he warned.
The remarks seemed primarily addressed to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The three Muslim nations have traditionally warm ties with Azerbaijan.
Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan signed up in 2013 to a declaration of Turkic states that called for a Karabakh settlement “within Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized borders.” They well as Tajikistan had previously backed even more pro-Azerbaijani statements adopted by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
Armenian leaders have repeatedly criticized those moves. As recently as in September, Colonel-General Yuri Khachaturov, the chief of the Armenian army’s General Staff, voiced Yerevan’s discontent with its allies following an upsurge in fighting along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and “the line of contact” around Karabakh. A few days later, Nikolay Bordyuzha, the CSTO’s Russian secretary general, condemned Azerbaijan for shelling Armenian villages.
In his speech at the Moscow summit publicized by his office, Sarkisian said that Baku has since raised fighting in the conflict zone to “a new and very dangerous level.” “One should not exclude that Azerbaijan has done that with external assistance and encouragement,” he said, seemingly hinting at Turkey.
It was not clear whether Russian President Vladimir Putin and other CSTO leaders responded to the criticism during the summit. Sarkisian, whose country currently holds the CSTO’s rotating presidency, did not mention the issue when he made a statement to the press after the meeting.