The acting secretary general of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), Valery Semerikov, dismissed on Thursday speculation in Armenia about Azerbaijan’s possible attempts to gain a special status in the Russian-led military alliance.
The speculation was fuelled durings this week’s debates in the Armenian parliament on changes in the CSTO statutes agreed by the defense bloc’s six member states. 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.
A pro-Western parliamentarian expressed concern over Azerbaijan’s possible attempts to gain a status falling short of CSTO membership. Armenian officials assured him that Yerevan would veto the granting of such a status.
Semerikov insisted that the CSTO Secretariat in Moscow has not received such applications from Baku. Nor have the CSTO members discussed this possibility, he said.
“That issue has not been discussed,” Semerikov told reporters in Yerevan. “Why is it that someone expressed his personal, subjective opinion from the podium and started [speculation on] that issue? … You know, that’s not right.”
Echoing statements by Armenian officials, Semerikov also stressed that the CSTO member states can admit new countries or grant them other statuses only by consensus.
The official spoke during a meeting in Yerevan of a CSTO committee on “military-economic cooperation” among Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The Russian delegation at the meeting was headed by Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov.
Borisov said Russia does not object in principle to the idea of CSTO observer status for Azerbaijan.
“It’s not just about Azerbaijan,” Borisov told reporters. “The CSTO will always welcome cooperation with all post-Soviet countries. After all, we all used to be part of the same family and have a lot in common. This also applies to a certain military balance, so to speak, among the [former Soviet] republics. We pursue a very balanced and well-thought-out policy.”
Borisov too noted that such decisions require consensus among the countries making up the CSTO.