Collective security forces unlikely to intervene in event of war in Karabakh

21.01.10

Collective security forces unlikely to intervene in event of war in Karabakh

Эксперты МГИМО: Никитина Юлия Александровна, к.полит.н.

News.Az interviews political scientist Yuliya Nikitina, PhD, researcher at the MGIMO Post-Soviet Studies Centre.

Could you explain the differences among the members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization on the creation of the collective rapid reaction forces? May the position of some Central Asian countries complicate the creation of the forces?

The forces have already been created. Their Interaction-2009 training was a success. The views of Uzbekistan and Belarus did not delay the rapid execution of this major task in developing the CSTO's reaction potential. Belarus finally signed a set of documents on the collective rapid reaction forces. Uzbekistan's official position is not to participate in the collective forces. They are unwilling to see CSTO contingents on their territory in the event of a domestic crisis or conflict. During the “tulip” revolution in Kyrgyzstan, the CSTO offered its assistance to President Akayev but he turned it down, saying that this was an internal issue. Fears about the interference of CSTO contingents in the internal affairs of any member state without its request are, therefore, groundless. Uzbekistan's position can probably be explained by the fact that President Karimov was reportedly not consulted during discussion of the creation the collective forces proposed by Presidents Medvedev and Nazarbayev. Regional rivalry between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan may also be a contributory factor to Uzbekistan's position.

Is the CSTO positioning itself as a regional equivalent to NATO?

The CSTO cannot be said to be positioning itself as a regional equivalent to NATO. This is the opinion of analysts, including western ones, who often call the CSTO “Eastern NATO” and apply the comparison to the Shanghai Organization for Cooperation as well. NATO is currently the most developed, effective regional security organization in the world which is why other regional organizations are compared to NATO rather than, for example, the African Union. Meanwhile, it is obvious that  regional challenges and threats to security in the post-Soviet area need to be addressed. They define the functional content of cooperation within the CSTO. This is a universal set of threats, including external aggression, extremism and terrorism, drug trafficking, illegal migration, man-made and natural disasters. NATO and the CSTO, therefore, tackle mostly similar objectives, but this does not mean that the CSTO views NATO as a model or copies it.

How might the possible accession of some post-Soviet countries to NATO influence the CSTO?

In 2007 CSTO Secretary General Nikolay Borduzha said Georgia's possible NATO membership would strengthen instability and unpredictability through military activity in the areas of CSTO responsibility. Meanwhile, the CSTO does not view NATO as an opponent which can be seen in the CSTO’s attempts to establish cooperation with the alliance, mostly on Afghanistan.  NATO does not want to launch this interaction, as it views the CSTO as an ineffective organization. Overall, the NATO membership of some post-Soviet countries will hardly influence the CSTO's activities, because the current participation of Russia's closest ally Armenia in the CSTO does not stop it from developing contacts with NATO. Moreover, all CSTO members take part in the NATO Partnership for Peace program.

May the CSTO expand in the medium term? If so, what countries will join it?

CSTO expansion is highly unlikely in the medium term, it's leadership does not view the expansion of the organization as positive. On the contrary, new members may complicate the process of decision-making which is based on the consensus rule. The example of the recent expansion of the European Union shows that such concerns are well-founded. The CSTO incorporates only the post-Soviet countries that are most interested in cooperation. Meanwhile, many countries show interest in individual spheres of CSTO activity, in particular, the Kanal anti-drug operation that has observers from China, the USA, Iran, the Baltic states, Bolivia, Columbia, Italy, Spain and many other countries. There will probably be created institutionalized programs for CSTO cooperation with separate countries in specific areas such as, for example, the NATO Partnership for Peace program.

Yerevan often speculates about the involvement of CSTO countries in the Karabakh conflict in the event of the resumption of the Armenian-Azerbaijani war for Karabakh, although Azerbaijan is not going to attack Armenia but to liberate its lands within its internationally recognized borders. Does the CSTO charter really allow such interference?

The Collective Security Treaty, which is the basis for the CSTO, contains a relatively “strong” fourth article, similar to Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty. Under this article, aggression against one of the member states is viewed as aggression against all members of the organization. In the event of conflicts involving signatory states or the aggression of any other state or group of states against Treaty signatories, then the remaining member states shall take immediate political and military action to restore peace and stop the aggression. The question does arise, however, of whether to view military actions by Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh as aggression against Armenia, because the conflicting sides have contrary opinions on the status of this territory.

Consensus among all members is needed to adopt a decision on CSTO intervention. It is obvious that no consensus on such a complicated issue as Nagorno-Karabakh will be possible in a short period of time. This will rule out the use of CSTO collective forces, such as the recently created collective rapid reaction forces or the future peacekeeping contingent. In addition, the collective rapid reaction forces were initially not designed for actions against CIS countries non-members of the CSTO or for the settlement of bilateral interstate conflicts. However, the use of the bilateral Russian-Armenian regional grouping of CSTO forces, which is intended to resist external aggression by other countries, is quite possible. But the likelihood of collective CSTO intervention in a possible conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia is quite low, as it could influence the organization's international image and cause a split among its members.

Leyla TAGIYEVA

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Источник: News.Az
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