Pashinyan seeks explanations from Lukashenka

Nikol Pashinyan, Armenia’s acting prime minister, said Friday that he was going to demand explanations from Alyaksandr Lukashenka for telling Azerbaijan’s ambassador the details of a recent session of the Collective Security Council of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) in Astana, Kazakhstan.

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“Our foreign ministry has already expressed concerns,” Mr. Pashinyan told reporters in Yerevan. “That was a closed-door meeting of a military-political bloc, at which the heads of member states held discussions. The session was held behind the scenes, which means that it was a closed conversation among the allies. And I am surprised that a person who has been head of state for about 30 years behaves like that. Of course, I have to demand explanations from the president of Belarus, and not only from the president of Belarus.” 

Mr. Pashinyan noted that he was also going to demand explanations from the president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, who revealed after the CSTO summit that a representative of Belarus would be appointed CSTO secretary general. 

“No one had the right to make such an announcement because CSTO decisions are made by consensus, and we clearly expressed our position. Since there is no consensus, no one has the right to make such an announcement,” Mr. Pashinyan said. 

He noted that he had raised the issue during his telephone conversation with the Russian president earlier in the day. 

While meeting with Latif Gandilov, the Azerbaijani ambassador to Belarus, on November 12, Mr. Lukashenka informed him about the results of the CSTO summit and noted that he was surprised at some media outlets’ speculation that the summit focused on the appointment of a new CSTO secretary general. 

“Yes, we discussed the issue, but it took us probably 15 minutes,” Mr. Lukashenka said. 

According to him, most time was spent discussing the political situation around the CSTO member states. Issues concerning the political situation within the CSTO were also discussed, but only if they were raised by representatives of one country or another, he said. 

In particular, he said that Mr. Pashinyan spoke about Armenia’s upcoming parliamentary elections, scheduled for December 9. 

According to Mr. Lukashenka, he told those present about the results of the Munich Security Conference’s Core Group Meeting in Minsk, the First Forum of Regions of Belarus and Ukraine in Homyel and the Fifth Forum of Regions of Belarus and Russia in Mahilyow. 

“Other presidents did the same and provided information about what was happening in their countries,” Mr. Lukashenka said. “There was nothing extraordinary.” 

He said that there were many options with regard to the appointment of a new CSTO secretary general. 

“This doesn’t mean that we infringed on Armenia, and that somebody won and somebody lost,” he said. “The thing is that Nikol Pashinyan simply needs to sort things out because his country currently chairs both the EAEU – our economic alliance – and the CSTO. This is a very large workload for a country that is in a transition period. Will Armenia be able to cope with it? If Nikol Pashinyan figures this out and gives us an answer, the issue [of the appointment of a new CSTO secretary general] will be decided in Saint Petersburg.” 

Mr. Lukashenka pointed out that Belarus was the next country in alphabetical order. 

“Today I have three candidacies that I can propose for the post of CSTO secretary general,” he said. 

A new CSTO secretary general is expected to be appointed at the Organization’s summit in Russia’s Saint Petersburg on December 6. 

The previous CSTO secretary general, Yuri Khachaturov, was recalled by Armenia on November 2. 

General Khachaturov, who was chief of staff of the Armenian Armed Forces from 2008 to 2016, has been charged by the new Armenian authorities with an attempted state coup, along with former President Robert Kocharyan.