Extraordinary session of CSTO Collective Security Council

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Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko took part in an extraordinary session of the Collective Security Council of the Collective Security Treaty Organization on 28 October. The event was organized as a videoconference.

Participants of the videoconference session discussed a potential response to the situation near the Armenia-Azerbaijan border. The situation in the wake of a monitoring mission led by the CSTO secretary general to the Armenia-Azerbaijan border area was discussed very seriously and sincerely.

Secretary General of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) Stanislav Zas presented information about the mission’s work at the beginning of the extraordinary session. President of Russia Vladimir Putin was the first head of state to make a speech afterwards. Vladimir Putin is deeply immersed in the situation considering Russia’s efforts to secure comprehensive and all-round normalization of relations between Baku and Yerevan.

Armenia Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan took the floor then. He raised several matters before the colleagues: evaluation of the events and the Collective Security Treaty Organization’s stance, the CSTO’s roadmap on “restoring Armenia’s territorial integrity” as the Armenian leader put it.

The Belarus President’s consequent speech was fully and totally dedicated to the most burning issues. Without saying a word out of the prepared talking points, Aleksandr Lukashenko addressed all the items on the agenda and even those hanging in the air. Aleksandr Lukashenko’s key take is the war has ended with Russia’s mediation, why would anyone want some different and new formats now? The three countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia – intend to have a meeting in several days and should come to terms. In turn, Belarus will support any decisions of theirs.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also spoke against the presence of additional Western missions – the European Union’s and the OSCE’s.

Right off the bat the Belarus President sincerely responded to the two matters formulated by the Armenian prime minister as the reason for convening the extraordinary summit.

“You’ve raised two matters before us. The first one is the evaluation of events and the CSTO stance. You demanded that we must determine our stance. Don’t you know our stance? We would like the neighboring countries to resolve the conflict by peaceful means,” the Belarusian leader noted.

“The second matter is ‘Make a roadmap on restoring Armenia’s territorial integrity’. What roadmap? I can tell you right away: meet with Ilham Aliyev, ask the President of Russia if you need to, and make a decision. If you don’t make one today, things will be worse, you understand it yourself. We don’t need this conflict,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stated.

“You have raised two matters. They are more than strange, Nikol Vovayevich [Pashinyan],” the Belarusian head of state added.

Aleksandr Lukashenko suggested a logical and consistent way to approach the raised issues. Deep and substantial negotiations between the three countries have to be organized first. Then the sides will get back to face-to-face discussion at a regular summit of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, which is due to take place in Yerevan virtually in one month. And then they should make the decision.

Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “This November, virtually in one month we will meet in Yerevan not via television as we are meeting now but within the framework of the Collective Security Treaty Organization. Why can’t we hear out reports and information about unfolding events primarily taking into account the meeting of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia? A meeting of the three countries – the main center of power for normalizing the relations – will take place. Why do we have to get ahead of ourselves? Why do we have to rush? In this period Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia have to once again analyze the situation if necessary. And I emphasize that they have agreed to negotiate. And they have to inform us at a CSTO meeting face to face. And then we will make the decision.”

The President also pointed out that Armenia and Azerbaijan had been part of one country before and are friendly countries to all the other ones in the Commonwealth of Independent States space. Moreover, Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan has to be resolved now – with Ilham Aliyev, a leader one can come to terms with.

“The issue is very sensitive and delicate. It is not like the CSTO and we, CSTO members are on one side while Azerbaijan is on the other side. The two countries are friendly to us. Yes, indeed, they were part of one country. But moreover, we are members of the Commonwealth of Independent States together with Azerbaijan and Armenia. We have very tight ties with Armenia, which is a Christian Orthodox country and close to us. And with the Islamic state of Azerbaijan, which is very close to us. It is a particularly sensitive issue for other CSTO members, including the Russian Federation where 30 million Muslims live. In other words, all the nuances, all the factors need to be taken into account,” the Belarusian leader stressed.

Aleksandr Lukashenko went on saying: “And after all, is Azerbaijan some enemy or adversary for all the heads of state and countries present here? It is not. I confirm President Putin’s words that Armenia and Azerbaijan are kindred countries for us. It is a peculiarity of the situation. We cannot but take it into account.”

The President believes one must not look at the problem by saying there is the Collective Security Treaty Organization and “Are you with us or not?” on one side and Azerbaijan is on the other side. “It is incorrect. Today Azerbaijan is headed by absolutely our kind of a person – Ilham Aliyev. Nobody knows what will happen tomorrow (he cannot live forever after all). This is why the acute issues raised by Nikol Vovayevich [Pashinyan] truly need to be addressed now. While Azerbaijan’s current leadership is still in place,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stated. “Regardless of whoever backs Azerbaijan. They say Turkiye does and so on. So what? It is politics. Turks support Azerbaijan because the two countries are close and kindred.

The President compared it to Belarus-Russia relations: “You can rebuke Russia, too because it supports Belarus while Belarus supports Russia. So we support each other because we are close and kindred.”

“This is why the issue [between Armenia and Azerbaijan] needs to be resolved now,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed.

The Belarus President’s fourth talking point is one of the most important ones. He wanted those present to look at what is going on from the global point of view. Attempts are being made to shake loose and ignite countries, primarily for the sake of weakening Russia. This is why it is logical that the head of state opposes the involvement of all kinds of Western missions.

Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “I mentioned the global point of view at the beginning. All our decisions today have to be made taking into account the regional situation and the global situation. We have to take into account what is going on around us. I quote: it is necessary to ignite Russia along the perimeter. It is stuck in Ukraine, now it is necessary to ignite it along the perimeter. In Caucasia, in Central Asia. In this context we should think about the conflict of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan first and foremost and who plays what role in it. I think [Tajikistan President] Emomali Sharipovich [Rahmon] and the Kyrgyzstan President can tell us about it. I quote: it is also necessary to put economic pressure on Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.”

The Belarusian leader stressed: “So they are starting to hammer us along Russia’s entire perimeter. You know that the Baltic states were unleashed at an early date. Attempts were made to bring Belarus to its knees in 2020. Then it was Ukraine’s turn. Caucasia and Central Asia come next as we move along the perimeter. Who fails to understand it today? All of us understand it. This is why we should look at any conflict and any motions of ours in this global context.”

Summing up his points, Aleksandr Lukashenko stated that Belarus and the country’s President will support a concerted decision of Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Russia. “Once you come up with a general consensus, I will support this shared vision without looking at it,” the Belarusian leader assured.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also expressed his personal opinion of the ongoing conflict: “I beg your pardon if I see it incorrectly while many kilometers away from this theater of war, but it is my impression of what is going on at that border over there. I’ve already told you as a friend: guys, what are you fighting for? What are you fighting in these mountains at an altitude of 2,000 meters? Three hundred people have died where people don’t live! Where even goats don’t graze! Why are you fighting? You two should sit down and come to terms! And may Russia bless this treaty.”

“But you don’t want that. Some game is afoot, it seems. This game must stop. Because a matter of war and peace is being resolved!” the Belarusian head of state concluded.