Armenia would not hesitate to veto Azerbaijan’s possible attempts to gain a special status in the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a senior Armenian lawmaker said on Tuesday.
Ruben Rubinian, the pro-government chairman of the Armenian parliament committee on foreign relations, made this clear as the National Assembly debated the ratification of changes in the CSTO statutes agreed by the defense bloc’s six member states: Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
One of those changes introduces the status of a CSTO “partner” in addition to that of an “observer,” which can be granted to other nations interested in forging closer ties with the bloc.
Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharian emphasized that such decisions can only be made by consensus. “If at least one of the member states is against, then that status will not be granted,” he told parliamentarians.
Arman Babajanian, a pro-Western lawmaker who left the opposition Bright Armenia Party last week, expressed concern over Azerbaijan’s possible attempts to gain a special status in the CSTO. He said he is worried that Yerevan would find itself alone in opposing such a bid.
“I don’t think things will get to a point where we will be alone,” countered Kocharian.
Rubinian also dismissed the Babajanian’s concerns. “Azerbaijan will not have the status of an observer or partner in the CSTO because Armenia will not ensure consensus,” he said. “It’s as simple as that.”
“So I am again urging you to put aside the presumption of Armenia’s wretchedness and impotence and to adopt the presumption of Armenia’s greatness, sovereignty and ability to assert its interests,” added the senior member of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s My Step alliance.
Pashinian criticized Russia and Armenia’s membership in the CSTO when he was in opposition to the former Armenian government. But he has repeatedly ruled out his country’s withdrawal from this and another Russian-dominated bloc, the Eurasian Economic Union, since coming to power in May 2018.