YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — A diplomatic row between Armenia and Belarus intensified over the weekend after Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan condemned Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko for questioning Yerevan’s role in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) at a meeting with an Azerbaijani official.
Pashinyan also hit out at Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev who has openly backed Lukashenko’s efforts to install a new, Belarusian secretary general of the Russian-led defense alliance.
The previous CSTO head, Yuri Khachaturov of Armenia, was forced to resign earlier this month after being controversially charged by Armenian law-enforcement authorities in connection with a 2008 crackdown on opposition protesters in Yerevan.
Khachaturov was appointed as secretary general in 2017 after Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan agreed that their representatives will take turns to run the CSTO. His three-year tenure was due to expire in 2020.
The Armenian government is seeking to install another Armenian secretary general who would serve until 2020. Lukashenko and Nazarbayev objected to that, however, at a November 8 summit of the CSTO held in the Kazakh capital Astana. They demanded that a representative of Belarus be named as new head of the CSTO.
The CSTO leaders said they will again try to reach consensus on the issue at another summit slated for December 6.