YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—An informal summit of the Collective Security Treaty Organization kicked off in on Friday, with its participants discussing ways of providing a “more effective response” to emergencies.
The leaders of six countries participating in the CSTO had come to Yerevan to attend the unofficial gathering focused on developing mechanisms that would allow the group to react more quickly and effectively to crises similar to the one in Kyrgyzstan earlier this year.
The Central Asian state was plunged into a deep political crisis after its president was deposed by the opposition in April. The CSTO effectively refused to step in to resolve the crisis despite appeals from the provisional government of Kyrgyzstan that had descended into chaos and saw a rising wave of ethnic violence in some of its regions in June.
Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian, as the leader of the host nation, and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, as the leader of the country that currently holds the rotating presidency in the organization, made opening remarks, welcoming their counterparts from Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan at a closed-door opening session on August 20. The president of Uzbekistan, the other CSTO member, did not attend the summit in Armenia.
The CSTO has grown out of a Collective Security Treaty that was signed by Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan back in 1992. Azerbaijan, Georgia and Belarus joined the treaty in 1993, but the two South Caucasus nations as well as Uzbekistan withdrew from it six years later. Uzbekistan rejoined the treaty in 2006, four years after it had turned into an organization that has its own charter and legal status.
Meetings and discussions among the former Soviet leaders proceeded at a lakeside resort in Sevan on Saturday. One such bilateral meeting featured Medvedev and Kyrgyz leader Roza Otunbayeva.
Summits of this kind are largely viewed as an additional forum for former Soviet leaders to sort out their bilateral problems.
In remarks that might indicate some thaw in the strained relations between the Russia and Belarus leaders, Medvedev welcomed Aleksander Lukashenko’s readiness for Belarus to assume the CSTO’s rotating presidency in 2011. The statement was made at a press conference not attended by Lukashenko.