YEREVAN (Azatutyun.am)—Leaders of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) met in Astana, Kazakhstan, on Thursday to discuss some of the pressing issues of the Russian-led security grouping, including the appointment of a new secretary-general after Armenia recalled its representative.
Earlier this month, the CSTO confirmed the dismissal of Yuri Khachaturov from the senior post held by an Armenian representative as part of the rotation principle.
Khachaturov was appointed to the post in May 2017, but after the change of government in Yerevan he was charged as part of a reopened investigation into post-election violence in 2008 during which the colonel-general served as Armenia’s deputy defense minister.
Khachaturov was formally charged in late July with overthrowing Armenia’s constitutional order by using the army for the violent repression of the opposition-led protests in which eight demonstrators and two police officers were killed.
After coming to power on the wave of anti-government protests in May, Armenia’s new Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that revealing the circumstances of the killings would be one of the priorities of his administration.
As part of the investigation former President Robert Kocharian was also charged with overthrowing Armenia’s constitutional.
Unlike Kocharian, who spent more than two weeks in custody in July-August, Khachaturov was granted bail and went back to Moscow to continue his duties as CSTO secretary-general. Armenia, however, initiated a formal process of recalling him from the post, which was completed on November 2.
Prior to the summit in Kazakhstan several senior Armenian officials spoke in favor of Armenia’s retaining the post until 2020. Armenia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, however, did not deny that other options might also be considered.
On November 7, Russian news agency TASS quoted Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov as saying that three options were being considered at the moment. Among them he mentioned Armenia’s retention of the post, the rotation of the post to Belarus, which is next in line alphabetically, and placing the interim secretary-general in charge until Minks takes over in two years.
A press release issued by the office of Armenia’s acting prime minister, who attended the CSTO summit on November 8, said that “the issue of the appointment of a new CSTO secretary-general was also addressed during the meeting.”
“The sides agreed to continue discussions on the issue during a meeting in St. Petersburg on December 6. At the same time, work will be undertaken to elaborate relevant norms regulating the issues related to the early termination of powers of the secretary-general,” it said.
According to the official report, at the summit the leaders of the CSTO member states, including Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan, met in a narrow format before continuing talks in an extended session.
They, in particular, discussed issues of international and regional security, cooperation between CSTO member states within the organization and in the international arena.
The summit adopted a number of documents, including the final declaration of the CSTO Collective Security Council and a joint statement on mutually agreed measures in relation to persons who participated in armed conflicts as part of international terrorist organizations.
“The Heads of State adopted decisions of the Collective Security Council aimed at improving the CSTO’s crisis response, countering illegal migration, developing a coordinated information policy, organization of collective forces and specification of their composition, and confirming the candidacy of the Chairman of the Interstate Commission for Military-Economic Cooperation,” the official report said.