Suren Sargsyan

CSTO: Six Years of Discussions, Zero Real Action


In recent days, the most discussed topic in Armenia remains Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s statements directed towards the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the president of Belarus. There have been multiple reports in the Armenian media about strained relations between the prime minister of Armenia and the president of Belarus, since the change in power in Armenia in 2018. Belarus has openly shown its friendly ties with Azerbaijan, which it views as more significant strategically and economically rather than Armenia. From 2018, CSTO was an important political and foreign political topic in Armenia.

First of all, Armenia initiated a campaign against the CSTO when it withdrew its representative, three-star General Yuri Khachaturov, citing a criminal case against him in Armenia as the reason for his return to Yerevan. Although Khachaturov returned, the case did not progress, and he promptly relinquished his position as the general secretary to the Belarusian representative according to the charter of the organization. This move was considered a significant blow to the authority of the CSTO, especially since Khachaturov had not been convicted.

A few days ago, Pashinyan declared that Armenia will cease all participation in events in Belarus and no Armenian official will visit Belarus as long as Aleksander Lukashenko is president. This decision was made in response to Lukashenko’s statement confirming his support for Azerbaijan during the 2020 war and his belief in the latter’s victory. Armenia reacted by recalling its ambassador from Minsk, prompting Belarus to reciprocate and refrain from commenting on the “emotional statements made by the Armenian prime minister.”

The prime minister of Armenia has once again announced his consideration of leaving the CSTO, despite the Armenian foreign ministry stating the day before that Armenia has no such intention. It is important to note that a member state of the CSTO must provide written notice of its intention to withdraw from organization at least 6 month in advance, with formal withdrawal possible only after 6 months. As for now, no letter has been submitted to the organization. The charter of the organization does not outline a mechanism for removing states from the CSTO, leaving the decision to the member state itself. Again, Armenia has not submitted any formal letter yet.

Armenia’s boycott of Belarus may impact its participation in the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), as Belarus is set to chair the organization next year. This could result in Armenian representatives abstaining from EAEU sessions, potentially affecting decision-making as this organization operates on consensus. Of course, it is possible that Armenian representatives may join the online session to prevent a complete breakdown in communication. Therefore, the boycott itself does not necessarily imply that Armenia will obstruct the efforts of EAEU or CSTO, at least during Belarus’ presidency. It’s worth remembering that in March 2024, Armenian leaders held talks with Belarusian opposition figure Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, a politician, presidential candidate in Belarus, and prominent symbol of Belarussian opposition who fled the country following disputed presidential elections. This meeting triggered discontent in Belarus, yet Minsk did not respond aggressively. President Lukashenko views the elections as an effort to foment revolution in Belarus, a potential threat thwarted with significant backing from Russia.

As for the situation surrounding the CSTO since Pashinyan’s rise to power, it remains somewhat ambiguous, as Armenia has repeatedly threatened to leave the organization over the past six years, without taking any substantial actions in this regard.

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