Russia, Armenia and four other ex-Soviet states making up the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) have not yet reached a consensus on the Russian-led alliance’s next, Armenian secretary general, a senior official in Yerevan said on Thursday.
The CSTO member states agreed in 2015 that their representatives will take turns to run the organization on a rotating basis. An Armenian official was supposed to replace the CSTO’s longtime secretary general, Nikolay Bordyuzha, a year ago.
However, the presidents of Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan decided to extend Bordyuzha’s tenure by one year. They again failed to agree on his replacement at summits held in Yerevan and Saint Petersburg in October and December respectively.
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is thought to be the main reason for the delay. Some CSTO states, presumably including Kazakhstan and Belarus, are reportedly reluctant to have an Armenian hold the position.
Commenting on the uncertainty, Armenia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharian said: “If such a job rotation comes into force, then Armenia will be the first state [to name the next secretary general] in accordance with the Russian alphabetical order. It was agreed last year that the rotation should take effect on January 1, 2017.”
Kocharian said the Saint-Petersburg summit yielded no agreement on the issue because President Aleksandr Lukashenko of Belarus did not take part in it.
“The next summit should bring clarity on this issue because we now have only an acting secretary general,” he told reporters. “That post is reserved for Armenia, and as soon as that meeting takes place and makes a decision by consensus Armenia’s representative will become secretary general.”
The official declined to elaborate on the CSTO leaders’ failure so far to reach such a consensus. “Kazakhstan has never created an obstacle in this area,” he said. “As for Belarus, the absence of the Belarusian president from the last summit created that issue.”
Kazakhstan and other Central Asian states have repeatedly signed pro-Azerbaijani declarations on Karabakh in the past, prompting criticism from Armenia. Lukashenko signed a similar joint statement with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev when he visited Baku late last year.