Stanislav Zas met with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian after visiting one of the sections of the border where Armenian and Azerbaijani forces have regularly exchanged fire in recent weeks. He inspected Armenian army positions in the area about 70 kilometers south of Yerevan.
Zas assured Pashinian that the CSTO is committed to protecting the territorial integrity of Armenia and its other member states. But he again stopped short of siding with Yerevan in the border dispute that dominated his talks with Armenian leaders.
“We certainly think that the incidents on the Armenian-Azerbaijan border mentioned by you pose a threat to Armenia’s security,” he was reported to say. “As regards ways of resolving the problem, we think that the possibilities of a political solution to this situation have not been exhausted.”
“In essence, this would be the best variant for everyone,” added the Belarusian official whose country maintains a warm rapport with Azerbaijan, having sold the latter with quantities of heavy weapons over the past decade.
Pashinian told Zas that his government also prioritizes “political methods” of resolving the border dispute. He said the CSTO is in a position to facilitate such a settlement.
“The organization and we need to demonstrate a certain determination on those issues,” he said.
Armenian Defense Minister Arshak Karapetian criticized the CSTO’s response to the border tensions more bluntly when he met with Zas on Monday. He said the alliance’s existing “mechanisms for making decisions and rapidly reacting to crisis situations” do not meet the security needs of its member states.
Both Karapetian and acting Foreign Minister Armen Grigorian said that Armenia will strive to “enhance the organization’s effectiveness” after assuming the CSTO’s rotating presidency next month.
According to Pashinian, Yerevan specifically hopes that the CSTO will deploy military observers along disputed portions of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border to prevent further skirmishes there.
Armenia appealed to the CSTO for help after Azerbaijani troops reportedly advanced several kilometers into Armenian territory on May 12-14. It asked the alliance of six ex-Soviet states to invoke Article 2 of its founding treaty which requires the CSTO to discuss a collective response to grave security threats facing its member states.
Meeting in Tajikistan later in May, the foreign ministers of Armenia, Russia and four other CSTO member states expressed concern over the tensions but issued no joint statements in support of Yerevan.