Armenia Blocks Pakistani Presence In Ex-Soviet Body


YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Armenia has reportedly vetoed Pakistan’s request for an observer status in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), citing the Muslim nation’s staunchly pro-Azerbaijani position on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

The Sputnik news agency quoted Eduard Sharmazanov, a deputy speaker of the Armenian parliament, as saying that discussion of the Pakistani bid was removed from the agenda of the latest session of the assembly which began in Saint Petersburg on Thursday.

Sharmazanov said official Yerevan advocated such a decision in a letter to the speaker of the Russian State Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin, sent earlier this week. He said it argued that because of the Karabakh conflict Pakistan has refused to not only establish diplomatic relations with Armenia but also formally recognize the latter as an independent state.

“This position runs counter to the approaches of both the OSCE Minsk Group and the CSTO,” he added, according to Sputnik.

Sharmazanov, who is also the chief spokesman for the ruling Republican Party of Armenia, met with Volodin in Saint Petersburg on Wednesday.

Pakistan has always fully and unconditionally supported Azerbaijan in the Karabakh conflict, accusing Armenia of military aggression against its Muslim neighbor. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif reaffirmed this position during an official visit to Baku last month.

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Speaking after their talks, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev praised Islamabad’s stance and said he and Sharif agreed to step up military cooperation between their nations. In particular, Baku would like to buy sophisticated Pakistani weapons, Aliyev said according to Azerbaijani news agencies.

Last year, Sharif told a newspaper in Kazakhstan that Pakistan is seeking to sign a free-trade deal with the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). As a member of the Russian-led trade bloc, Armenia is in a position to block such a deal as well.



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