YEREVAN — Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian has criticized the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) for its refusal to support Armenia in the face of “Azerbaijan’s aggression”.
Speaking at a CSTO summit in Yerevan on November 23, Pashinian said it was “depressing that Armenia’s membership in the CSTO failed to contain Azerbaijani aggression ”. He said it had been “extremely detrimental to the image of the CSTO both in our country and abroad”.
Armenia requested military aid in September after deadly clashes erupted between the two Caucasian neighbours, but the CSTO only responded by sending its secretary general to the conflict zone and offering to create a working group to analyze the situation.
Six countries – Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Russia – make up the CSTO, which was established in October 2002.
Pashinian said his country immediately supported CSTO member Kazakhstan in early January when Kazakh President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev called for CSTO troops to enter his country following anti-government protests without previous.
WATCH: Hundreds of Armenians unhappy with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to their country gathered at two separate rallies in Yerevan on November 23.
“Armenia ends its chairmanship of the CSTO. Although it is an anniversary year [for the CSTO], for Armenia, it was not an anniversary year at all. Over the past two years, a CSTO member state has been attacked by Azerbaijan at least three times, and in fact, so far, we have not received any reaction from the CSTO regarding the aggression. of Azerbaijan, which is a serious blow to the image of the CSTO,” Pashinyan said.
Armenia claims that tens of square kilometers of its sovereign territory were seized by Azerbaijan during the military conflict between the two countries in May 2021, November 2021 and September this year.
Pashinian later met on November 23 with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Yerevan summit to discuss bilateral relations and regional issues.
At the start of the meeting, Pashinian reportedly noted that the CSTO had failed to reach consensus on all issues on the summit’s agenda.
Pahinian said at the summit that he was not ready to sign draft documents regarding “joint measures of assistance to Armenia” which he said did not address Yerevan’s concerns about the political position of the CSTO on the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict.
“Under these conditions, the absence of a clear political assessment of the situation and the inability to make the above decision may not only mean the CSTO’s denial of allied obligations, but may also be interpreted by the Azerbaijan as a green light from the CSTO for a new aggression. against Armenia,” Pashinian said at the summit.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the CSTO was a “necessary” organization whose services were “in great demand” to resolve regional conflicts.
“It is very important that Armenia and Azerbaijan agree on a peace treaty,” said Peskov, who accompanied Putin to Yerevan. “This is our main task. And we all have to do everything we can to… make it happen,” he told reporters after the summit.
During his meeting with Putin, Pashinyan raised the issue of honoring the agreements that Armenia and Azerbaijan reached through the mediation of the Russian president.
“These are very important issues, which of course we need to discuss, just as we need to discuss the agenda, which we hope will lead to lasting peace in our region,” Pashinyan said.
Putin, quoted by the Kremlin, underlined the allied nature of the Russian-Armenian relations which, according to him, have “deep roots”.
In his remarks at the summit, the Russian leader said a meeting between the leaders of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan in Sochi, Russia, on October 31 and their joint statement afterwards created “ a good basis for future compromises” between Yerevan and Baku.
Putin said that only consistent implementation of agreements on border demarcation, unblocking of transport links and solutions to humanitarian problems will achieve normalization of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
“We hope this will eventually pave the way for a peace treaty between Yerevan and Baku,” Putin said.
Ahead of the summit, hundreds of activists representing civil society and democratic institutions gathered on November 23 in downtown Yerevan, demanding that Armenia leave the CSTO. Among the demonstrators were Ukrainian citizens who protested against the unprovoked Russian invasion of Ukraine launched in late February.
Leaders of CSTO member states – Putin, Pashinian and Toqaev, along with Alyaksandr Lukashenka of Belarus, Sadyr Japarov of Kyrgyzstan and Emomali Rahmon of Tajikistan – met in the Armenian capital as Russia continued to bomb cities Ukrainian forces with missiles targeting energy infrastructure.
It was announced at the summit that Kazakh politician Imanghali Tasmaghambetov will replace Belarusian politician Stanislau Zas as CSTO General Secretary.
Tasmaghambetov, 65, known as one of the people most loyal to the former President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbaev, served as Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, Deputy Prime Minister, Mayor of the Kazakh capital, Astana, and the largest from the country. city, Almaty.
His last official post was that of ambassador to Russia, a position he held before announcing his retirement in 2019.
With reports from the Kazakh service of RFE/RL and AFP
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