Armenia’s Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan wants answers from Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko who reportedly has shared details of a recent summit of the CSTO with a high-ranking diplomat from Azerbaijan, which is not part of the post-Soviet security organization.
At the center of the diplomatic row is the selection of the future secretary-general of the Collective Security Treaty Organization to replace Yuri Khachaturov, who resigned earlier this month and was charged in Armenia of breaching the constitutional order in relation to the March 1, 2008 post-election protests during which eight civilians and two police officers were killed by security forces.
Khachaturov was selected to the post in 2017 for a three-year term. Armenia still has the opportunity to nominate a candidate to complete Khachaturov’s term, however during the CSTO summit in Astana, Kazakhstan’s president Nursultan Nazarbayev suggested that Belarus name a secretary-general since it will be assuming the presidency of the organization, which rotates in alphabetical order among its member states.
Pashinyan, on Saturday, accused Lukashenko of sharing information that was discussed behind closed doors during the CSTO summit with the Azerbaijani ambassador to Minsk.
Lukashenko has displayed friendly ties with Azerbaijan and its president Ilham Aliyev. Earlier this year, reports emerged that Belarus had sold Azerbaijan weapons. Last year, Blarus extradited the Russian-Israeli blogger Alexander Lapshin to stand trial in Baku for having written positive articles about Artsakh.
“Imagine if I invite an ambassador of a country that is not a CSTO member state and tell him about the behind closed-doors session. That’s a closed-door session of a military-political bloc, where the heads of member states hold discussions. If the session is behind closed doors, it means that it’s a classified conversation between allies,” Pashinyan told reporters on Saturday.
“I am shocked that a person who has been a head of state for about 30 years behaves like this. Of course, I have to demand explanations from the president of Belarus, and not only from the president of Belarus,” said Pashinyan clearly referencing Nazarbayev, who made his endorsement of a Belarus secretary-general after the closed-door session ended.
A spokesman for the Belarus Foreign Ministry said Pashinyan seems to regard himself as an “international prosecutor empowered to punish and pardon” foreign leaders, reported Azatutyun.am.
“Apparently Mr. Pashinyan has not yet realized that the rules of so-called street politics are not acceptable in international politics,” the spokesman said, according to Azatutyun.am in an apparent reference to the fact that Pashinyan came to power as a result of street protests.
On Monday, Pashinyan, who said that he discussed the matter with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday during a telephone conversation, told local officials in Gegharkunik that Armenia will not idly stand by adapt to the whims of its international partners. He said that Armenia, and its government are capable of protecting Armenia’s interests.
Meanwhile, Acting Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan said in an interview with TASS on Saturday that Armenia has sufficient qualified candidates for the position of CSTO secretary-general.
Mnatsakanyan said for Armenia, the CSTO’s reputation, efficiency and vitality are very important.
“As a CSTO member, we are interested in the prospect of having a strong organization and we are making our contribution in this matter,” Mnatsakanyan told TASS in an interview, explaining that recalling Khachaturov was Armenia’s way of shielding the CSTO from Armenia’s domestic issues.
The acting foreign minister said that a final decision has not been made about who will become CSTO’s secretary-general. That decision is scheduled to be discussed at another summit in December.