Imangali Tasmagambetov met with Defense Minister Suren Papikian before touring the Armenian resort town of Jermuk which was shelled by the Azerbaijani army during last September’s border clashes. He inspected the damage caused to the local civilian infrastructure.
The Armenian government appealed to the CSTO for support following the two-day hostilities which left at least 224 Armenian soldiers dead. It accused the alliance of ignoring the appeal in breach of its statutes.
In a statement, the Armenian Defense Ministry said Papikian discussed with Tasmagambetov regional security and, in particular, the situation on Armenia’s volatile border with Azerbaijan. It said Papikian presented his government’s “expectations” regarding “long-standing problems with the activation of the CSTO’s collective defense mechanisms.”
Last November, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s government turned down other CSTO member states’ offer to deploy monitors along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, citing their reluctance to acknowledge and condemn the “Azerbaijani aggression.”
In January, Yerevan called off a CSTO military exercise that was scheduled to take place in Armenia this year. It also refused last week to appoint one of Tasmagambetov’s three deputies.
Pashinian said on Tuesday that the appointment would not contribute to Armenia’s security in the current circumstances. He dismissed suggestions that he is intent on terminating his country’s membership in the CSTO. He claimed that it is the CSTO that could “leave Armenia.”
Seyran Ohanian, the parliamentary leader of the main opposition Hayastan alliance, denounced that stance, accusing Pashinian’s administration of dangerously mishandling relations with Russia and the CSTO as a whole.
Ohanian, who had served as defense minister from 2008-2016, said that Armenia should not have appealed to the alliance for military intervention in the first place because it is capable of defending itself against Azerbaijan. The CSTO helps to neutralize a potentially more serious security threat to Armenia emanating from Turkey, he told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.
Armine Margarian, a political and military expert, was skeptical about the recently appointed CSTO head’s ability to address Yerevan’s grievances.
“The CSTO’s attitude towards Armenia’s problems has a profound and systemic nature,” she said. “A change of its secretary general and a single visit by him cannot change anything.”