YEREVAN, 23 November (BelTA) - Leaders of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) member states are set to take part in a session of the Collective Security Council, the organization's supreme body, in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, on 23 November, BelTA has learned.
Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko will be among the participants. The forthcoming summit is special for Belarus, as the country is taking over the CSTO presidency from Armenia. In this regard, the head of state will voice priority areas, which will be the focus of joint efforts in the coming year.
What is known about Belarus' priorities?
Aleksandr Lukashenko will brief his counterparts on the issue in detail. The topic itself has been under discussion for at least several past weeks. The work on the relevant proposals began long before the summit.
For example, after the meeting with the Belarusian president in Minsk on 1 November, CSTO Secretary General Stanislav Zas told the media that the work on the Belarusian priorities was in its final stage. “The head of state has a simple and clear demand, as usual: priorities should not be abstract, far-fetched. They should be relevant and in sync with the organization's agenda,” he said.
Belarusian Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Makei, on his arrival in Yerevan on 22 November, did not reveal to media any details about Belarus' priorities for the period of the country's presidency in the CSTO. “We did our best to prepare them in such a way as to make a decisive contribution during the coming year to the improvement of all areas of our organization's activities,” he said.
The expert community also expects good results from the Belarusian presidency, and hopes that the CSTO's authority will enhance. “I think, the CSTO will have a very good future, with Minsk contributing to the credibility of the organization during its presidency. We will work to ensure that as many countries as possible can get the status of observers in the CSTO. The authority of the organization will only grow when the Belarusian president actually heads this organization,” Igor Korotchenko, Director General of the Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies (Russia), told BelTA in late October.
What else will the leaders discuss at the summit?
The leaders will discuss current problems of international and regional security and the main results of the CSTO activities during the intersessional period. The summit participants will also take a look at a wide range of issues related to various areas and outline cooperation venues.
According to the CSTO official website, one of the most important issues will be improvement of the CSTO crisis response system and discussion of joint measures to assist Armenia.
The Collective Security Council is expected to adopt a Declaration of the Collective Security Council.
The agenda of the Collective Security Council meeting includes a number of documents to be signed, which relate to equipping the peacekeeping forces with modern weapons, military and special equipment, joint work on radiation, chemical and biological protection and medical support of the CSTO, as well as giving the status of a regional anti-terrorist operation to the complex of operational and preventive measures “Mercenary”. The CSTO budget for 2023 will be reviewed, as well.
In connection with the forthcoming rotation on 1 January 2023, the Collective Security Council will consider the issue of the Secretary General of the Collective Security Treaty Organization.
A joint meeting of the CSTO Foreign Ministers Council, the CSTO Defense Ministers Council and the CSTO Committee of Secretaries of Security Councils is taking place in the Armenian capital on 23 November prior to the summit of the heads of state. In addition to the documents to be submitted for consideration of the heads of state the regular session of the CSTO Collective Security Council, the Secretaries of Security Councils, as well as the heads of foreign and defense ministries are set to discuss issues of multilateral cooperation in the political and military areas, interaction against terrorism, and the creation of a coordinating council on issues of biological security.
Participants in the meeting will adopt a number of statements aimed at countering the financing of terrorism, manifestations of the glorification of Nazism and extremism.
At Belarus' initiative, the joint meeting of the CSTO statutory bodies will sign a statement on strengthening the international and regional security architecture and arms control, disarmament and nonproliferation.
Why did Lukashenko insist on strengthening CSTO?
At the meeting with Stanislav Zas on 1 November the parties discussed a number of problematic issues inside and around the CSTO. One of them was the situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. The conflict must be resolved as soon as possible, the Belarusian leader is convinced.
“God forbid we let the conflict on the border between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan flare up. This is unacceptable. We must put an end to this. That is not good that we cannot stop these conflicts in the CSTO. We should discuss these issues very seriously at the next session of the CSTO,” the Belarusian leader said.
According to him, Belarus has initiated a number of discussions within the CSTO, including those related to the media, analysis and crisis response. “There are a lot of issues. We need to act in order to avoid being called a paper tiger or something else. There are probably some who do not want to work. We need to work with those who want to make the CSTO a strong political and military organization. This is the position of Belarus. We are all for it. But we are against playing games and using the CSTO as a tool to settle some internal political problems. Everyone has them, but that is not why we have set up the CSTO,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
These statements, among other things, reveal the topics for discussion at the summit, even if some of the discussions will not be made public. One thing is clear - Belarus, as the future chair, intends to do its best to resolve disputes and conflicts in the CSTO area and to help increase the international prestige of this integration structure.