Despite Armenia's will, CSTO participating countries to prevent CRRF interference in regional conflicts: experts

Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict Materials 9 June 2009 16:08 (UTC +04:00)

Azerbaijan, Baku, June 9 / Trend , E.Tariverdiyeva/

The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) participating countries will prevent the interference by the Collective rapid reaction forces (CRRF) in domestic regional conflicts, despite of Armenians will.

"The probability of interference of CRRF in the Nagorno-Karabakh is zero," Azerbaijani political scientist Tofig Abbasov said.

At a meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev CSTO Secretary General Nikolai Bordyuzha informed the president that a package of documents to the next summit of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, which will be held on June 14, has already been prepared. The document includes an agreement on CRRF, annexes concerning the issues of command, rules of conduct, documents that define the composition of military units belonging to CRRF and a roster of forces, RIA Novosti reported.

The decision to form the CRRF was made at the February summit of the CSTO in Moscow.

Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are members of the CSTO.

According to Bordyuzha, CRRF is not occupied with regional conflicts of CSTO participating countries.

Armenia is not satisfied with the decision, considering that the CRRF group must defense CSTO countries of local conflicts.

"Yerevan is interested in a logic question what will be CSTO's reaction in case of military aggression to Armenia by its eastern neighbor. The answer that we have heard (the reaction will be reserved or neutral) does not satisfy us," senior official of Armenian Foreign Ministry told the Vrema Novostei newspaper, who asked to remain anonymous.

The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan since 1992, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and 7 surrounding districts.

Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group - Russia, France, and the U.S. - are currently holding the peace negotiations.

Despite Armenia's will, CSTO participating countries will refuse the interference of CRRF in local conflicts.

Armenia seeks a clarification of the rapid reaction force's potential use in the South Caucasus region, and wants a military security guarantee from the CSTO that the force can be used to defend Armenia "in times of crisis," reflecting Armenia's threat perception form both Azerbaijan and Turkey, Armenian political scientist Richard Giragosian said.

The CSTO will most likely neither provide Armenia with the specific military guarantee that it seeks nor will it become any sort of pressure against Azerbaijan.   

Moscow seems to have a pronounced tendency to improve relations with Baku, Giragosian said.

"Moscow may even see a need to entice Azerbaijan to seek some sort of cooperation with the CSTO over the long term, and will not adopt any decision that could turn the CSTO into any kind of balance of counter against Azerbaijani interests in the region," Director of the Armenian Center for National and International Studies Richard Giragosian wrote to Trend in an email.

Relations of Azerbaijan and Russia will not damage regardless of decision to be made at the upcoming meeting of the CSTO, Azerbaijani Political Scientist Abbasov believes.

"Russia is interested that its peacekeeping potential will play a decisive role in the Karabakh crisis settlement," Expert of the Lider TV Analytical Group Abbasov told Trend . "Russia's building partnership relations with Azerbaijan relies on basic interests."

He said just these interests have a direct impact on a safety reserve regarding presence in the South Caucasus, as well as the fate of the global and long-term economic plans.

Observers believe not only Russia, but also the countries of Central Asia will not allow the use of collective rapid reaction forces, desired by Armenia.

The CSTO participants, particularly the countries of Central Asia do not want to assume military responsibilities and to intervene in the conflicts of two other states, said Kazakh political analyst Dosim Satpayev.

"The remained participants of the CSTO will unlikely support the use of the collective rapid reaction forces in the inter-state conflicts," Director of the Risk Assessment Group Satpayev said to Trend by telephone from Astana. "It does not meet the interest of other participants in the organization, particularly, the countries of Central Asia."

During a recent meeting of Defense Ministers of Collective Security Treaty Organization in Moscow, Uzbekistan also opposed the concept of the collective rapid reaction forces, precisely because, Uzbekistan believes these forces have even too many opportunities and powers that be a regional provider on safety, he said.

"If Armenia insists on strengthening of these forces, then Uzbekistan, by contrast, supports those forces to be under control and less involved in issues related to the security of sovereign states, on which Russia," Satpayev said.

Armenia may just stay with its opinion on the matter, said the expert. "I do not think it will be able to provide some pressure on the process, because Armenia has no leverage on the countries of Central Asia," Satpayev said.

As to aggression actions that may cause intervention for the collective rapid reaction to be formed, the situation around the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has its own characteristics. The act of aggression has already been committed more than 15 years ago, which has been clearly indicated in four UN resolutions, Abbasov said.

"If Azerbaijan decides to liberate its occupied territories due to failure of mediator-countries' peace efforts, this will become an action of compelling to peace as it was done by Russia during the crisis in South Ossetia," Abbasov said.

E.Ostapenko contributed to this article.

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