MOSCOW, 18 January (BelTA) – The partners of Belarus and Russia in the CSTO are under pressure from the West, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov said answering a question from a BelTA correspondent at a press conference on 18 January.
“We have plans for joint foreign policy action in the CIS, and especially in the CSTO, since it is a more advanced integration structure. These plans are laid out in draft joint statements, which are being prepared in the CSTO and, to a lesser extent, in the CIS. It is true, it can be difficult to come to terms, and one of the reasons for that is that our CSTO partners have problems in their relations with the West. They experience some economic difficulties, if the West suddenly decides to do harm to them in some way,” the Russian diplomat said.
“Our Belarusian friends and us are trying to stand tall in this situation: no one wants to artificially limit contacts with any of the partners, as we understand that this is not the interaction between the leader and the follower. Contacts between equal states are based on the balance of interests, in other words, they are mutually beneficial,” he emphasized.
Sergey Lavrov said that there is no heavy-handed discipline in the CSTO. “There are cases when Russia, Belarus, some other countries vote in solidarity, while someone abstains. This happens. We do not have that kind of heavy-handed discipline like NATO does,” he said.
“I believe that heavy-handed discipline is harmful. Of course, I would certainly like to see absolute solidarity within our integration structures. We are working on it, this requires explanatory work, an individual approach to each specific case that is being considered. Let's admit that we have difficulties related to the current situation in Armenia. Our Armenian friends pushed for sending a CSTO mission to the border with Azerbaijan in order to ensure stability there,” the minister said.
He recalled that the appropriate document on the parameters of the mission had been agreed before the November summit of the CSTO. “But it was not passed, because the Armenian counterparts began to insist that this document should condemn Azerbaijan in the strongest terms,” the Russian foreign minister added.