YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Armenia can count on military support from fellow members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) in case of a new war with Azerbaijan, the secretary general of the Russian-led defense alliance indicated on Thursday.
“When it comes to war, one has to understand that the CSTO is based on the Collective Security Treaty, Article 4 of which says that an aggression against one of the organization’s member states is an aggression against all member states,” Nikolay Bordyuzha said during a video conference with Armenian journalists. “We will proceed from that.”
Bordyuzha was responding to a question about what the CSTO would do if Azerbaijan, which is not a member of the security pact, were to launch a military campaign against Armenia to win back Nagorno-Karabakh.
The CSTO was set up in the wake of the Soviet collapse and currently comprises Russia and six other ex-Soviet republics: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Yerevan’s membership in the alliance reflects its close military ties with Moscow.
Analysts in Yerevan have long doubted that CSTO member states other than Russia would provide military assistance to Armenia in the event of renewed war in Karabakh. In fact, some of those states, notably Kazakhstan, have voted for Karabakh-related resolutions submitted by Azerbaijan to various international organizations.
“Often times things that are written on paper are not put into practice,” said Tevan Poghosian, chairman of the Armenian Atlantic Association, which promotes closer ties between Armenia and NATO. “Since that agreement [mentioned by Bordyuzha] has never been tested in practice, I wouldn’t put much trust into it.”
Bordyuzha noted with satisfaction that international efforts to settle the Karabakh conflict have made significant progress of late and could soon yield a breakthrough. “I very much hope that the efforts of the Minsk Group, which is working very actively today, and the meetings of the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan will lead to a peaceful resolution of the conflict,” he said. “Everything testifies to that now.”
Bordyuzha would not be drawn on the CSTO’s possible involvement in an international peacekeeping force that would be deployed in the conflict zone should the warring sides agree on a peace plan proposed by the French, Russian and U.S. mediators. “The issue of the participation of peacekeeping forces has never been discussed,” he said. “Besides, I must say that CSTO’s peacekeeping forces are still being formed and will be ready only by the end of this month.”
The Russian official appeared to refer to a NATO-style rapid reaction force which the CSTO members except Belarus and Uzbekistan agreed to form in June. The Armenian government has yet to clarify its contribution to the force officially called the Collective
Operational Reaction Forces (CORF).