Tensions boil over in post-Soviet security organisation

EPA-EFE/TATYANA ZENKOVICH

Armenia's Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan arrives for a NATO summit in Brussels, July 12, 2018.

Tensions boil over in post-Soviet security organisation


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Amid growing dissatisfaction over the conduct of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan, the Armenian government in Yerevan is demanding explanations from Belarus and Kazakhstan after the two hosted and discussed details of a CSTO meeting with Armenia’s arch-enemy, Azerbaijan, which is not part of the post-Soviet security organisation.

Armenia’s Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan wants answers from Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko after the latter reportedly passed on sensitive details to Azeri ambassador in Minsk.

Lukashenko is known for having close ties with Azerbaijan and its President Ilham Aliyev. Earlier this year, Belarus sold Azerbaijan a substantial number of high-tech weapons.

Pashinyan has accused Lukashenko of sharing information that was discussed behind closed doors during the CSTO summit with the Azeri ambassador to Minsk.

Several of the CSTO members, including Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan have grown increasingly impatient with the post-revolutionary government of Pashinyan, particularly after he had Armenia’s representative to the CSTO, Yuri Khachaturov, was removed from his position earlier this month.

At the time, Khachaturov was serving as the organisation’s secretary-general. He was, however, a close ally of the former government of Serzh Sargsyan and had recently been charged in Armenia of breaching the constitutional order in relation to a series of anti-Sargsyan protests in 2008 when eight civilians and two police officers were killed by security forces loyal to the government.

Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who also enjoys warm relations with Aliyev, joined with Belarus in suggesting that Minsk should have the right to name a replacement secretary-general as it would next in line to assume the presidency of the organisation in 2020, which rotates in alphabetical order among its member states.

The Armenian government, however, appears to have been able to counter the attempt by Belarus and Kazakhstan to sideline their delegation after the office of the Armenian president issued a decree on November 22 appointing Viktor Biyagov as Yerevan’s new Permanent Representative to the CTSO.

Biyagov previously served as Head of the Foreign Affairs Department at the Armenian National Assembly.

In addition to his appointment, the presidential decree also included the unexplained removal of David Virabyan from his position as Armenia’s CSTO envoy.

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