YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — President Serzh Sarkisian has accused ex-Soviet states aligned in the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) of failing to support Armenia and even aiding Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Sarkisian launched the unusually scathing attack at a meeting with Nikolay Bordyuzha, the CSTO’s visiting secretary general, held late on Monday.
In a statement on the meeting, Sarkisian’s press office said, “The president emphasized that the position of several CSTO partners, which is displayed on various international platforms on issues of fundamental interest to their allies and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in particular, does not correspond the overall spirit of the negotiation process, contradicts statements and proposals by the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group as well as documents adopted within the CSTO framework.”
“Ilham Aliyev’s bellicose and Armenophobic statements do not receive an appropriate reaction from CSTO partners, which Serzh Sarkisian believes could have restrained the Azerbaijani leadership’s adventurist ambitions,” said the statement. “In the president’s words, as a result, Azerbaijan continues to escalate the situation and take provocative actions, blatantly violating its commitment to the conflict’s peaceful resolution.”
It was not clear whether Sarkisian referred only to Central Asian states affiliated with the defense pact or Russia as well.
The Armenian leader has already slammed the CSTO’s Turkic member states like Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan in the past. In September 2013, for example, he publicly criticized their presidents for signing up to a declaration of Turkic states that called for a Karabakh settlement “within Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized borders.”
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan well as another CSTO member, Tajikistan, had previously backed even more pro-Azerbaijani statements by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The grouping of more than 50 predominantly Muslim states has repeatedly condemned Armenian “aggression” against Azerbaijan.
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev underlined his country’s close ties with Azerbaijan in May when he publicly set a pro-Azerbaijani condition for Armenia’s accession to the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU).
Sarkisian’s latest criticism of Armenia’s nominal Central Asian allies — and possibly Russia as well — came just three days before an EEU summit in Minsk during which he is expected to sign an accession treaty with the Russian-led union. The signing of the treaty, although very likely, is still not a forgone conclusion because of Kazakhstan’s apparent misgivings about Armenian membership in the EEU.
Incidentally, Kazakhstan’s First Deputy Foreign Minister Rapil Zhoshibayev visited Yerevan and met with Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian earlier on Monday. The Armenian Foreign Ministry said the two men agreed that Armenia’s accession to the EEU “will open up new opportunities” for deepening relations between their nations.
According to Sarkisian’s office, Bordyuzha’s latest trip to Yerevan is “connected,” among other things, with a recent upsurge in deadly truce violations in the conflict zone. Sarkisian was quoted as telling the CSTO chief that the fighting put at risk “the fragile security system formed in the CSTO’s zone of responsibility.”
Tension on the Armenian-Azerbaijani frontlines has eased substantially since Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted talks between Sarkisian and Aliyev on August 10.