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CSTO is not a Russia-led talking shop
CSTO is not a Russia-led talking shop
News. Az interviews Yulia Nikitina, PhD, Associate Professor, MGIMO-University, co-author of the INSOR report «CSTO: Responsible Security» (2011).
What do you think has prompted the Russian proposal to change the decision-making principle in CSTO in terms of the shift from consensus to decision-making by the majority, if the information about these proposals is true?
As to my knowledge, there were no such official proposals on the part of Russia. Belarus which presides in CSTO in 2011 put forward a similar suggestion but it was turned down by other members. Actually, it was Igor Yurgens, the editor of the INSOR report «CSTO: Responsible Security», who in one of his interviews to the press suggested that due to Uzbekistan’s «special opinion» on many questions discussed within CSTO, the majority vote would be a solution to overcome Tashkent’s «veto». But currently the trend in CSTO decision-making process is the opposite: in December 2010 CSTO members decided to introduce an approach when a country not interested in the discussed matter may abstain from voting and participating in the discussed project but this country should not be against the decision in question, so it is a kind of the veto right. The majority vote system would, of course, help to overcome a «veto» but would depreciate the alliance itself as cooperation in military and security sphere implies unanimity. So, in my opinion, CSTO will not change the voting system in the coming years.
Is the clear lack of the effective decision-making mechanism in CSTO the cause of differences between the organization member-states on a range of issues?
Consensus as the voting procedure in CSTO is not inefficient, it is a means to take into account the concerns of all members. But in organizations with large membership the majority vote system is more pertinent. It is difficult to say how many is enough to switch voting system, but it obviously used to be easier to reach consensus among six CSTO members before Uzbekistan returned to the organization.
What has caused the distrustful attitude to CSTO not in western countries but in partner countries participating in CIS?
I am not aware of such perceptions, maybe except for Georgia and Azerbaijan. But those fears are based on assumptions that CSTO is a «waning» organization where all members abide by the Russian decisions and thus Moscow will simply use CSTO in either solving its bilateral conflict with Tbilisi or in helping Erevan in case of eventual conflict with Baku. But CSTO is not a Russia-led talking shop which is proved by recent difficulties in the collective decision-making process. Another example is the recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia: even Russia’s closest ally Belarus refused to do it. And as all member states conduct not Russia-oriented but multi-vector foreign policy, such fears and distrust seem to be exaggerated.
Almost every decision of the CSTO related to collective military actions against the potential common enemy is associated by the majority of the expert community of Azerbaijan with a threat to Baku. Which place does the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict occupy on the list of focus issues for the organization?
CSTO does not want to be involved into bilateral conflicts of the member-states so in case of a hypothetical military conflict of two CSTO members the organization will not intervene. Till 1999 Azerbaijan was a Collective security treaty member and the main reason Baku withdrew from the treaty was CST has no provisions on conflicts between its members. Now Azerbaijan is not a member, so theoretically if it undertakes some military actions against Armenia and Erevan appeals to CSTO for help, the organization would consider it as a case for collective defence. But offensive or pre-emptive actions on the part of CSTO are absolutely excluded. The political conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan is far from being a priority in CSTO agenda. Except for Armenia, all other members consider the possible military conflict as a marginal issue on CSTO agenda and will try to avoid all forms of collective involvement. Of course, Russia will provide some help to Armenia but most probably on a bilateral basis.
And one more question to develop the previous one. Once, Putin shocked NATO declaring the possibility (even hypothetical) of Russia’s joining the alliance. If Azerbaijan wants to restore its CSTO membership, will the organization be ready to it and how will it influence the tasks and goals of the organization?
Such developments should not be excluded as Azerbaijan was a Collective security treaty member in the 1990s. Of course, it would make the problem of decision-making process more acute because of evident controversies between Baku and Erevan. But what is interesting is that CSTO step by step reorients its activities from dealing with external threats towards internal functions. And one of the latest trends is CSTO’s intention to facilitate the settlement of political conflicts between member states, for example, Central Asian members. If such an experience proves to be successful, then new reasons for Azerbaijani membership would appear.
«Говорят эксперты МГИМО», может не совпадать с мнением редакции портала.