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25 February 2024, 12:39

Lukashenko unfazed by Armenia’s stance on CSTO

MINSK, 25 February (BelTA) – Belarus has taken Armenia’s statements on CSTO membership in stride, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko told the media after he cast his ballot in the parliamentary and local elections on 25 February, BelTA has learned.

“We are absolutely calm about it. We discussed this problem with the presidents in Kazan. We are absolutely unfazed by it. It did not send anyone over the edge. If Armenia needs to be part of the CSTO, let it be, we have always supported and will support it as our ally. If they don’t want to be in the CSTO, the organization won’t collapse, it won’t be gone,” said the head of state.

At the same time, there have been no official notifications from Yerevan regarding its plans for the CSTO, the Belarusian leader remarked.

He noted that in line with Armenian laws, the issue of CSTO membership must be decided in parliament: “Pashinyan cannot make a decision whether to join or withdraw. The parliament is entitled to make such decisions. I think the majority of the Armenian MPs are sensible people. They don’t have any reason to harbour hard feelings against us, or the CSTO.”

According to the head of state, this topic has been discussed more than once, and it must be understood that Azerbaijan is not a stranger to any of CSTO member states. “There are many Muslim countries in the CSTO. You understand this too. This partly explains such a position. And, thirdly, did Armenia really want us to get involved in this war with Azerbaijan? In this case, this war would have been going on to this very day and thousands would have died,” said the Belarusian leader. “I believe that Azerbaijan and Armenia eventually arrived at the right solution to the issue, though through the war, unfortunately. Armenia (and they admitted it) occupied five or six regions of Azerbaijan,” the head of state said.

The president recalled that once he acted as a mediator between Baku and Yerevan in an attempt to peacefully resolve the territorial dispute, and for a number of years Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev not only called for a peaceful resolution, but also offered financial support to the Armenian side: “I occurred to be a mediator - I shuttled between Baku and Yerevan and conveyed these signals. The proposal envisaged billions of dollars of investment in the Armenian economy. Azerbaijan is a rich country. There were a lot of proposals to resolve this issue peacefully,” the head of state said.

However, in previous years, the Armenian leadership did not agree to a peaceful settlement and problems were snowballing. “It all accumulated and fell on Nikol Vovayevich Pashinyan [Prime Minister of Armenia], on his government. He is hardly to blame for what happened. Yet, this problem had to be solved. Moreover, the Armenia-occupied regions of Azerbaijan were desolate, although this is a very beautiful place where people could have lived with comfort. More than a million Azerbaijani refugees were a huge burden on Azerbaijan; there were many other problems,” the head of state noted.

“Well, the war is over. What position were we supposed to take? The Armenians are our kin, people we care about. And is Azerbaijan a stranger? We were put in a bind. And there was no reason for the CSTO to get involved in this conflict. There was absolutely no slightest reason for us to do it,” Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized.

He also drew attention to Armenia's contacts with France. “They communicated with Emmanuel Macron of France all the time. France pledged to help with air defense systems, with defense matters and economy. In general, they promised to take care of Yerevan’s needs. But they are not doing it. You see what is happening in France. Therefore, politicians in Yerevan need to wake up to reality and, to put it simply, try not to lose what they have,” the president of Belarus advised.

He cited Georgia as an example: “Thank God, they are mending relations with Russia, first of all, with us; their economy is recovering. They tried to get a free ride in the West. The Americans have already forgotten about Georgia. As soon as the Georgians started asserting that they were an independent country, the West began to put pressure on them, including and primarily the United States. You need to draw conclusions from it. No one in the West cares about them. They have thousands of problems of their own.”

“For example, today Biden supports Ukraine, Armenia, and so on. Tomorrow the government will change and Trump will say: “Listen, I don’t know you. My friends, this is the first time I’ve seen you!” the head of state remarked.

He once again urged to hold on to what one has: “It’s easy to leave, but it will be difficult to return. Again, Georgia is an example. It left the CIS and all structures. Is it better off without them? No. It is a good idea to return. But it's always more difficult to come back. It is not a good look and so on.”

Aleksandr Lukashenko advised the Armenian side not to rush to leave and not to make hasty decisions. “Take your time. Do not withdraw or freeze something. Well, if you don’t like something, just don’t come,” he said. “Time brings many changes. And the situation will change around Armenia, Azerbaijan. The global situation will change. Therefore, such compact, relatively small states as Armenia, Belarus and others do not need to make dramatic moves. We might fall through thin ice and no one will extend a helping hand, quite the opposite, they will push us further down so that we will drown there. Armenians should not rush. I believe that Nikol Vovayevich just got ahead of himself and made an emotional statement,” Aleksandr Lukashenko added.
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