A representative of Armenia must run the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) until 2020, Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanian insisted on Friday.
Russia and five other ex-Soviet states making up the alliance agreed in 2015 that their representatives will take turns to serve as the organization’s secretary generals on a rotating basis. They appointed Armenia’s Yuri Khachaturov to that position in 2017.
The new Armenian government cut shot Khachaturov’s three-year tour of duty after he was controversially charged in July in connection with the 2008 post-election violence in Yerevan. It hoped that another Armenian official will be allowed to replace Khachaturov.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian insisted on that at a CSTO summit held in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana on November 8. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko as well as Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev demanded, however, that a representative of Belarus be named as new head of the CSTO.
The CSTO leaders said they will again try to reach consensus on the issue when they meet again in Saint Petersburg, Russia on December 6.
In an interview with the Russian TASS agency, Mnatsakanian said this does not mean that another Armenian official cannot become new head of the CSTO. He said Armenia must keep the vacant post as it has a “good cadre potential for that.”
“The organization comprises six equal members and they make decisions by consensus,” stressed the minister.
Lukashenko reiterated his demands when he met on Monday with a senior diplomat from Azerbaijan, a country which is at war with Armenia and not part of the CSTO. He noted that another Russian-led bloc, the Eurasian Economic Union, is also run by an Armenian.
“This is a very heavy burden for a country which is going through a period of transition,” added Lukashenko. “Can Armenia carry that burden?”
The Armenian Foreign Ministry denounced Lukashenko’s comments.