MINSK — Leaders from five former Soviet countries that are members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) met in the Belarusian capital of Minsk on Thursday for a summit that has been skipped by their formal ally, Armenia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and the leaders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan attended the events hosted by Belarus’s Alyaksandr Lukashenka, with Armenia’s flag also flying at the Minsk airport and at the venue of the gathering, the Independence Palace, even though neither Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, nor other Armenian officials have participated in the workings of the summit that was preceded by meetings of defense and foreign ministers and security council secretaries of member states on Wednesday.
Lukashenka said Armenia’s absence from the summit was discussed by the other leaders during their meeting held behind closed doors.
“We will not hide the fact that we also discussed the situation in the Caucasus and certain dissatisfaction of one of the CSTO members. We have come to a joint conclusion that there have always been problems, there are and there will be problems. But if we are to solve these problems, we should do it at the negotiation table and not through unreasonable demarches,” the Belarusian leader said, implying Pashinyan’s refusal to attend the summit.
In an apparent jibe at the Armenian leader Lukashenka said that “only fly-by-night politicians” can create a situation of conflict “by making a gift to those who are not interested in strengthening the security of the CSTO member states.”
“This is irresponsible and short-sighted,” he said, as quoted by local media.
At the same time, the Belarusian leader expressed a hope to see “Armenian friends” at upcoming economic events in St. Petersburg, Russia.
The summit also approved the appointment of Russian Colonel General Andrei Serdyukov to the post of the head of the Joint Staff of the CSTO and a regulation on the joint press center of the CSTO.
CSTO Secretary-General Imangali Tasmagambetov will visit Yerevan upon the conclusion of the organization’s summit in Minsk to hand over the signed documents to the Armenian side, Belarusian Foreign Minister Sergei Aleinik told reporters before the start of the session of the CSTO Collective Security Council.
He voiced hope that Armenian would join the decisions made during the summit. Aleinik stressed that the task of the CSTO is to maintain the solidarity of all member countries.