CST Leaders Meet to Discuss Security Issues

MOSCOW (Armenpress)–Leaders of Armenia–Belarus–Kazakhstan–Kyrgyzstan–Russia and Tajikistan met May 14 in the Kremlin for a jubilee session of the Collective Security Treaty (CST)–made effective ten years ago in 1992. Russian President Vladamir Putin was quoted by Itar-Tass as saying that "leaders of states have a wonderful opportunity to discuss and sum up what has been done in the last years and to also articulate their thoughts about the CST future." Putin proposed "to discuss the situation in our countries from the point of view of ensuring our peoples’ security and also to focus on several international issues and terrorism."

Armenian President Kocharian–who is in Moscow to participate in the jubilee session–also met with Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov on May 14 to discuss ways to settle Armenia’s debt to Moscow. Moscow says Armenia’s debt to Russia exceeds $100 million. It is expected to be settled by way of transferring part of shares in Armenian to enterprises in Russia. These include power units of the Hrazdan power plant.

Kasyanov and Kocharian also discussed the state of and prospects for the development of trade and economic cooperation between the two countries.

President Putin–who has taken up the rotating chairmanship from Kocharian over the CST Council–stressed the importance of reconciling all activities of CST member countries.

"CST was founded as an efficient tool for protecting the peaceful life of our peoples and defending the national interests of its member states," he said.

Putin also emphasized the importance of CST in the new geo-political situation–which brings forth new challenges and threats. He expressed hope that the achieved agreemen’s would allow to sufficiently enrich the content of political and military cooperation among member countries.

Putin also stressed that the CST is ready to collaborate with similar organizations in the West and East–particularly with NATO and Shanghai Cooperation organization and strongly endorsed the US war against terrorism.

The Collective Security Treaty last year set up a joint rapid reaction forces for Central Asia. About 1,000 servicemen from all six nations on Monday launched their first three-day joint exercises in Russia’s Nizhny Novgorod region. Another joint exercise is to be held in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan next month.

The Collective Security Treaty was signed in 1992 after Soviet collapse with a goal to develop military and security cooperation among the newly independent ex-Soviet states.

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