Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian has called on fellow member states of the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) to “consider the interests of all participating nations” when it comes to issues such as foreign policy and military-technical cooperation.
“This is a great opportunity to discuss issues on our common agenda,” he told representatives of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Armenia who attended a CSTO Parliamentary Assembly session in the Armenian capital on Tuesday.
“The core of our organization is that we must take into account the interests of all member states when building foreign-policy relations, military-technical cooperation and relations in all other fields. I believe that relations among our countries should be a priority for all of us. Of course, we perceive it that way, and Armenia is ready for that and is doing exactly that in its foreign policy. This, in my opinion, is the right path for our relations and the further normal development of the CSTO,” Pashinian said in a thinly veiled criticism of Russia and Belarus -- two members of the grouping that have supplied weapons to nonmember Azerbaijan.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have been at loggerheads over Nagorno-Karabakh that has remained under de-facto Armenian control since a Russia-brokered ceasefire deal put an end to three years of fighting in 1994.
Russia, which is Armenia’s key military ally and supplies most of the country’s armaments, has also sold weapons to Azerbaijan. It is believed that since 2011 Baku has purchased from Moscow up to 4 billion dollars’ worth of arms, including some modern offensive weapons. Belarus, another CSTO member, has also supplied Azerbaijan with significant amounts of military hardware.
Both current and former leaders of Armenia raised the issue of military supplies to Azerbaijan before the CSTO in the past.
Pashinian also chided Belarus and Kazakhstan for “openly” opposing the appointment of a new Armenian secretary-general of the CSTO when Yerevan recalled its representative in 2018. Eventually, the organization agreed on the appointment of an acting secretary-general before Belarus takes the rotating leadership role next year.
The Armenian prime minister also addressed the recent situation with the secretary-general’s appointment as he met with the top parliamentarians from CSTO-member states, calling for changes in the organization’s documents to avoid confusion in the future. “I think it will also raise the efficiency of our organization,” Pashinian stressed.
Responding to criticism heard from the Armenian side over relations of some CSTO members with Azerbaijan, Russian Ambassador to Armenia Sergey Kopyrkin acknowledged on Monday that “issues of solidarity arise within the organization, including in the context of relations of separate countries with Azerbaijan.” But the ambassador continued: “All these are important issues calling for attention and discussion. But behind such discussions the core day-to-day activities of the CSTO often go unnoticed.”
In his remarks published by his press office Armenian Prime Minister Pashinian also said today that the CSTO has a strategic importance for Armenia. He also described the Russian-led bloc as “a key factor for stability and security in our region.”
“We attach great importance to all three dimensions of our cooperation within the CSTO. This is first of all foreign-policy coordination, military-technical cooperation and, of course, our common approach to security threats,” Pashinian said. “Of course, unfortunately, threats are also changing, and we need to respond to it adequately. Of course, our organization must meet the current regional and global realities. And I am very glad that we are cooperating quite constructively for the further development of the organization.”