Statement by the CSTO Secretary General Stanislav ZAS at the "Regional Security Structures: CSTO" session of the OSCE Forum for Security Cooperation "Rebuilding Trust through Implementation of Politico-Military Commitments," June 9, 2021

Statement by the CSTO Secretary General Stanislav ZAS at the "Regional Security Structures: CSTO" session of the OSCE Forum for Security Cooperation "Rebuilding Trust through Implementation of Politico-Military Commitments," June 9, 2021 09.06.2021

Dear Mr. Chairman, dear Mrs. OSCE Secretary General Helga Schmid, dear Ladies and Gentlemen!

Allow me to thank the Armenian Chairmanship of the OSCE Forum for Security Co-operation for the invitation to address today's session. I believe that my statement today at a meeting of one of the oldest and main decision-making bodies of the OSCE reflects the common interest of the OSCE participating States and CSTO member States in countering contemporary challenges and threats and ensuring the creation of a common and indivisible security space in Europe and Eurasia.

We must objectively admit that the situation in which the world currently lives remains difficult. Unfortunately, residents of the entire large Eurasian continent, from the English Channel to Vladivostok, still have understandable and legitimate concerns about developments in the security situation. As recently as a year ago, the serious threat to security posed by the pandemic and the need to combat it seemed to unite us all, consolidate the global community and smooth over the existing contradictions. However, this has not happened.

In the Declaration adopted at the Session of the CSTO CSC on December 2, 2020, in the special statement of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of December 1, 2020, the member States of our Organization confirmed their solidarity and support to the call of the UN Secretary General António Guterres for an immediate and global ceasefire in all corners of the world due to the spread of a new type of coronavirus infection. We have to state that to the existing list of challenges and threats the tasks of ensuring biosecurity have been added. Experience shows that despite certain successes in combating the coronavirus pandemic, its economic, social and demographic consequences have a negative impact on the dynamic development of a significant number of countries and complicate the prospects for ensuring lasting stability. We remain convinced that the new challenges of our time and the fight against them will ultimately become a unifying motive in the OSCE and the CSTO region.

Unfortunately, and this was noted in the course of the recent meetings of the CSTO statutory bodies, held under the chairmanship of the Republic of Tajikistan in Dushanbe, significant positive shifts in global and regional security haven’t been achieved yet. The extension of the START-3 Treaty at the beginning of the year remained a very significant, but still an isolated positive episode in the overall tense situation.

The security mechanisms established after the World War II, which gave Europe seventy-five years of lasting peace, continue to function with disruption. The dismantling of the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles and the launch of the Open Skies Treaty denunciation procedure are further eroding the established arms control system.

In addition to the continuing general turbulent situation, we note an increase in a number of politico-military threats in the Eastern European region of the CSTO collective responsibility area. The deployment of elements of the strategic missile defense system and the additional deployment of troop formations in the immediate vicinity of the borders of the Organization's member States continues. In recent months, there has been increased external pressure on the Republic of Belarus. The situation in the south-east of Ukraine remains without any significant positive developments.

In the Caucasus region of the CSTO collective security during the six months since the cessation of hostilities in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone as a result of the trilateral statement of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia and the President of the Russian Federation there have been positive developments in the settlement of the situation. The deployment of a Russian peacekeeping contingent and the efforts of international negotiators to resume a comprehensive settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict are creating the basis for long-term peace. The situation is gradually stabilizing. What’s most important that fire is ceased now.

We are closely following the development of the situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, especially in the border areas of the Syunik region of Armenia. We welcome the parties' intention to solve the issues of crossing the state border peacefully. We see prospects for long-term peace there.

At the same time, the risks of escalation still remain.

Given the very difficult situation in neighboring Afghanistan, it is especially important to ensure stability and security in the Central Asian region. The return of the situation to a legal framework in the Kyrgyz Republic following the successful presidential elections there on January 10, this year, has significantly improved the situation. Agreements between the presidents of the Republic of Tajikistan and the Kyrgyz Republic to resolve disputed border issues were a positive factor. We welcome the fact that they have been reached and are being implemented on the basis of the priority of political and diplomatic means and in a spirit of alliance and good-neighborliness, which is in keeping with the spirit and basic provisions of our Organization's Charter.

I note that the CSTO has expressed its readiness to provide the Kyrgyz Republic and the Republic of Tajikistan with the necessary assistance in resolving the conflict if they request the Organization to do so.

Afghanistan remains the main focus of regional instability.

We pay great attention to the monitoring of this issue. The CSTO Ministerial Council has a Working Group on Afghanistan. In order to exchange views and coordinate efforts, representatives of specialized divisions of the UN, the OSCE, the CIS, the SCO and interested third countries usually participate there upon our invitation. On May 25, a regular meeting of the Working Group was held.

According to our assessment, the threats of the activation of international terrorist and religious extremist organizations in the territory of Afghanistan and, consequently, the likelihood of the spread of terrorism and criminal drug trafficking have not diminished. The possibility of an early settlement of the situation in the territory of that country and, as a consequence, in the Afghan border region remains low. After the withdrawal of the military contingent participating in the NATO mission, the question remains whether official Kabul and “The Taliban” will be able to prevent the strengthening of ISIS and other extremist groups there and reach appropriate agreements. Infiltration of ISIS extremist fighters from Syria and Iraq is exacerbating the situation there. One of the conclusions of the recent Working Group meeting was a consensus on the importance of strengthening the southern borders of the CSTO.

Threats to regional stability from the territory of Afghanistan can have negative impact for European security as well. You are well aware of this. Afghanistan needs constant foreign support, both from the countries of the region and from international and regional organizations. This topic requires closer cooperation between the CSTO and the OSCE. I would like to note that at the spring meetings of the CSTO constituent bodies we noted the importance of continuing the implementation of the List of additional measures aimed at reducing tensions in the Tajik-Afghan border area. A draft the CSTO Special Interstate Policy for strengthening sections of the Tajik-Afghan Border is being developed.

Despite all the difficult circumstances, we manage to maintain control in the CSTO area of responsibility.

It should be noted that coordination of actions of the CSTO member States on topical foreign policy issues is increasing in these difficult times. An important element of this coordinated policy is the adoption on a regular basis of joint statements of the Council of Foreign Ministers. For example, at the last meeting of the CSTO Ministerial Council four statements were adopted, including:

- The Statement "On the 75th Anniversary of the Judgement of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg”;

In the second Statement “On Strengthening the Convention on the Prohibition of Biological and Toxin Weapons” our Organization's emphasis was on the need to adopt an effective mechanism of Convention on the Prohibition of Biological and Toxin Weapons compliance verification.

The Statement "On the CSTO Cooperation with States and International Organizations" reflected the common interest of CSTO member States in developing friendly and mutually beneficial relations with third countries and international organizations in maintaining peace and stability in the Eurasian region.

The forth "Statement of the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the CSTO member States in connection with the extension of the Treaty between the Russian Federation and the United States on the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms of April 8, 2010" expressed the unified conviction of our countries about the importance of ensuring predictability in the relationship between the two largest nuclear powers, which is undoubtedly the basis for strengthening and restoring trust in international relations.

I would also like to remind you of the consolidated position of the CSTO member States on the most important processes occurring in today's world and the prospects for overcoming the current situation, clearly stated in such previously adopted documents as the CSTO CSC Statement on Building a Just and Sustainable World Order, the Statement of the Foreign Ministers of the Organization's Member States Committed to the Principles of the UN Charter, the Statements on General World Stability, on Prohibition of Development and Production of New Weapons.

The Statement on Solidarity and Mutual Assistance in Fighting Coronavirus Infection, adopted by the Foreign Ministers, was of great practical importance. By the way, it is an opportunity to form a consolidated position on this issue.

Issues of interstate cooperation in the military-political and military-technical sphere, as well as the joint struggle against global challenges and threats such as terrorism, extremism, drug trafficking, and illegal migration remain the most important areas of the CSTO activity.

Under the auspices of the CSTO, an operation "Mercenary" is being successfully conducted to shut down channels for the recruitment, departure/entry of citizens of the CSTO member States to participate in terrorist activities. The CSTO Anti-Drug Strategy and the Plan of CSTO member States to Combat Illegal Migration for 2021-2025 are being implemented. These measures have significantly reduced tension in these areas, but problems are remaining. Regular special operation "PROXY", aimed at suppressing the use of information and communication technologies for criminal purposes, helps to strengthen the information security of the CSTO member States.

Taking into account the difficult situation in a number of areas adjacent to the borders of CSTO member States and, above all, the threats to the Central Asian region related to the situation in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, we continue to pay attention to military cooperation. This year a set of joint operational and strategic trainings "Combat Brotherhood-2021" will be implemented. I am talking about joint training with CSTO Collective Rapid Deployment Forces "Interaction-2021", special training with the assets of intelligence "Search-2021", special training with the assets of Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics of the CSTO Collective Forces "Echelon-2021" on the territory of the Republic of Tajikistan; joint training with the CSTO Peacekeeping Forces "indestructible Brotherhood-2021". Of course, we are aimed at further development of the CSTO Peacekeeping Forces, increasing the operational and tactical compatibility of peacekeeping contingents of CSTO member States for use in peacekeeping operations under UN auspices.

In the sphere of countering contemporary challenges and threats, one of the main tasks is the implementation of measures within the framework of the CSTO Collective Action Plan for the implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy for 2019-2021. We plan to prepare and conduct in this regard special operations "Mercenary-2021", "Channel-2021", "Illegal-2021" and operation PROXY.

Work is continuing within the CSTO format to create mechanisms for cooperation among CSTO member States in the area of biological security.  In this regard, the question of creating a Coordination Meeting of the heads of competent departments of CSTO member States is being considered.

The CSTO will increase its participation in global efforts to ensure peace and security, consistently advocating the settlement of international and regional conflicts, primarily armed conflicts, by exclusively peaceful political and diplomatic means within the framework of internationally recognized negotiation formats, based on generally recognized principles and norms of international law without a selective approach. To this end, member States will continue the practice of holding joint consultations in order to coordinate their foreign policy positions on international and regional security problems.

It is encouraging that despite the coronavirus pandemic, our interaction with the OSCE is gradually being restored. In this regard, I would like to note the importance of holding the 27th meeting of the OSCE Ministerial Council in December 2020, which I had the honour to attend, albeit via videoconferencing.

Experts from our Organization's Secretariat participated in the OSCE Annual Anti-Terrorism Conference held on 20-21 April, this year. In our presentation in the course of the Session II, based on experience in countering terrorism in CSTO member States, a number of practical conclusions were made regarding the need to combat extremist content, so-called blocking of Internet sources, and effective counterpropaganda, which makes it possible to challenge the basic tenets of jihadist ideology.

Dear Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen!

I would like to conclude my report with the words of the CSTO Declaration of December 2020, that the task of further enhancing the CSTO potential in the current circumstances is linked to the need for additional political efforts in the interests of strengthening strategic stability and restoring the atmosphere of trust in inter-State relations. After all, only together on the basis of mutual trust and respect for international law is it possible to effectively confront the existing, newly emerging and constantly increasing challenges and threats to the modern world.

I thank you for your attention.




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