In an exclusive commentary to Cronos.Asia, the CSTO Secretary General Imangali Tasmagambetov spoke about the progress of the negotiations.


On June 6, 2024, in Almaty, a meeting of the CSTO Committee of Secretaries of Security Council was held under the chairmanship of the Republic of Kazakhstan. During the meeting, the CSTO Secretary General Imangali Tasmagambetov made a report on the situation in the CSTO area of responsibility and measures aimed at neutralizing challenges and threats to the security of Collective Security Treaty Organization member states.

Sputnik Armenia reports that the Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan said that he had excellent relations with CSTO Secretary General Imangali Tasmagambetov.

The CSTO Secretary General Imangali Tasmagambetov — on the intensification of Yerevan's contacts with NATO and the level of training of the CSTO countries' troops


The CSTO Secretary General Imangali Tasmagambetov said in an interview with “Izvestia” newspaper, that despite Armenia's decision to suspend its participation in the CSTO events, the organization fully maintained its obligations to Yerevan. He stressed, that If the Armenian leadership decided to leave the organization, it would be Armenia's sovereign right. In its work, the CSTO takes into account NATO's increased activity in the Transcaucasus region, but the Collective Security Treaty proposes a soft alliance that presupposes respect for the sovereignty of member states and the absence of rigid bloc discipline. The main threats to the CSTO, troop readiness and friction in bilateral relations between the member states are discussed in Imangali Tasmagambetov's interview with “Izvestiya”.

— Armenia has actually suspended its participation in the CSTO, but de jure its status has not changed. Did this have any impact on the organization’s obligations to Armenia?

— Armenia has indeed limited its participation in the work of the CSTO, but the main mechanisms of interaction are functioning and work on the organization’s agenda continues. All CSTO commitments with regard to Armenia remain in full compliance with the organization’s statutory goals and principles.

— Recently, the Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan at a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg actually openly declared Yerevan's desire for close cooperation with the alliance. Do the CSTO expect a situation in which relations with Armenia will be completely destroyed? How will the balance of power in the region change if Yerevan takes a course of confrontation with the CSTO?

— The West's policy towards Eurasian integration structures is indeed affecting both the organization and, to a certain extent, its allies. At the same time, the experience of the CSTO — and on 20 April we celebrated the 30th anniversary of the entry into force of the Collective Security Treaty — shows a high degree of sustainability of the organization and a high adaptive potential.

It is important to note here that member states adhere to a multi-vector policy in their interaction with external players, which remains their sovereign right. Accordingly, Yerevan's choice to remain within the CSTO or leave the organization will also be a sovereign decision of this independent state. Another question is how the current leadership of Armenia assesses the threats and risks to national security that the country faces.

The Secretariat's analysts point out that the balance of power in the South Caucasus may change in the event of Armenia's withdrawal from the CSTO, but in this case the regional security factors, the effect of which is now quite difficult to predict and calculate, will be triggered. When discussing the likelihood of a confrontation between Armenia and the CSTO, which I hope is no more than hypothetical, it is necessary to take into account the resource base and real capabilities of the parties, so this issue, even though it cannot be classified as extremely topical at the moment, requires analysis.

— NATO is generally increasing contacts with all countries in the Transcaucasus region - Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan. How dangerous is this activity for the CSTO? How does the organization react to such communications between partners with an openly hostile alliance?

— In its work, the CSTO Secretariat takes into account this activity of the North Atlantic Alliance and analyses the complex processes taking place in NATO's area of responsibility and the interests and capabilities of its main members. At the same time, we respect the foreign policy decisions of the CSTO member states that are cooperating with NATO as sovereign and independent states.

Another issue is that the long period of allied relations within the CSTO and cooperation with NATO in the format of implementation of their most famous projects allows the authorities of these countries to compare the principles of decision-making, the consistency of security policy, the parameters of implementation of the decisions taken, the nature of multilateral relations in terms of equality and mutual consideration of interests, and so on. All this makes it possible to compare experiences and forecast how relations, in particular with NATO, might develop, and draw appropriate conclusions.

In a rapidly changing world, sovereignty is gaining additional value and, in my opinion, is becoming one of the key criteria for effective alliances. From this point of view, the CSTO is an alliance where this factor is fully taken into account. What we call soft alliance — meaning, above all, the absence of so-called rigid bloc discipline — is a strong point of our organization. And the CSTO member states of course take this into account when building their policies in the area of ensuring national and regional security.

— What security threats to the CSTO countries exist today? How prepared is the bloc to meet them?

— We consider terrorism, religious extremism, the spread of narcotic substances, illegal migration, mercenarism, cybercrime, the dissemination of illegal content on the Internet and others to be among the current threats to the security of the CSTO countries. The CSTO pays increased attention to each of the threats mentioned above, both at the level of analysis and at the level of developing practical measures to neutralize them and practicing these measures in the course of exercises and trainings.

In general, I can assess the level of preparedness to respond to threats as high. However, it seems that additional efforts on the part of the organization are required to develop measures to neutralize hybrid threats. We are currently actively engaged in this area.

— The media periodically report on friction between the participants that does not take place within the CSTO. To what extent can difficulties in bilateral relations affect the stability of the bloc?

— Bilateral relations between the CSTO member states are not limited to cooperation in ensuring regional security. There are relations in trade and economic, economic, humanitarian, information and other spheres. There can be contradictions, and this is normal.

The process of finding mutually beneficial solutions may involve a temporary cooling in bilateral relations and even some incidents. However, politico-military security in the context of instability in Eurasia has a special value. Taking this fact into account allows the allies to find ways to avoid projecting contradictions in other spheres onto relations within the organization.

— The CSTO regularly conducts training and exercises. How do you currently assess the level of preparedness of the troops of the CSTO member states?

— The CSTO traditionally pays increased attention to the development of practical measures and tools for effectively combating threats to national security, combat cohesion and coordination of the work of units and contingents. Both I and the analysts of the [CSTO] secretariat generally appreciate the level of preparedness of the troops of the organization’s member states. We commend the efforts made by the political leadership of the countries to maintain the CSTO's military potential at the necessary level.

— Does the CSTO plan to include new members?

— The Collective Security Treaty Organization is open to cooperation with those countries that share our principles and goals and wish to join it. The prospects for CSTO expansion are influenced by the complex processes that are taking place in Eurasia as a macro-region.

On the one hand, as instability increases, the importance of regional security systems also increases. However, on the other hand, the role of regional and sub-regional processes, which can hinder the development and expansion of such structures, is increasing.

In any case, the CSTO has proven its worth over more than 30 years of its existence, and this is an important factor for our potential allies. In addition, the organization cooperates closely with such authoritative international associations as the United Nations, the SCO, the CIS and others. This also confirms the high level of confidence of national governments in our collective security system and its high potential in preserving peace and stability.


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