The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) issued a statement on July 14 referring to the border clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan. In the statement, the CSTO expressed deep concern over the tense situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.
“This situation does not contribute to the settlement of the border situation between the two neighboring states, one of which, the Republic of Armenia, is a CSTO member-state […]. We reiterate the need to restore the ceasefire in the area under the responsibility of the CSTO,” the statement said.
This statement led to speculation by various political circles. Many argued that since Armenia is a CSTO member country, the organization should have called on Azerbaijan to cease fire.
In addition, different circles began to link the CSTO statement with the current Armenian authorities.
In an interview with Channel 5 on July 14, political scientist Hrant Melik-Shahnazaryan described the relations between the CSTO and Armenia as very tense, linking it to the criminal case initiated against former CSTO Secretary Yuri Khachaturov in Armenia.
Davit Jamalyan, a military expert who was hosted in “Review” program of 168․am news outlet, attributed this neutral CSTO statement to the criminal case initiated against Yuri Khachaturov, noting that by doing so, Pashinyan’s government has harmed public interest. “And now we want to have a more pronounced address from the CSTO? We would have had it if we had worked normally with the CSTO,” Jamalyan stated.
The Fact Investigation Platform decided to study the CSTO statements on the incidents on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border in the past, to understand their rhetoric, to find out whether this time the statement of the organization is really exceptional with its neutrality.
Prior to this, increased tensions were registered on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border in September 2018, when the enemy was shelling the border villages of Tavush. As a result of the tensions, Suren Sepkhanyan, a resident of Koti village, was wounded by the enemy’s shot, and a few days later, contract soldier Haykaz Matjosyan was killed.
The CSTO responded to these tensions with a statement by Secretary General Yuri Khachaturov. “We are concerned about the recent shelling of civilian facilities in the border areas of the Republic of Armenia and on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, which have resulted in casualties,” the statement said.
The organization called for an end to the shelling of Armenian settlements. “In order to prevent the growth of the security threat to the Republic of Armenia, a CSTO member state, we call for an end to the shelling and increase in tensions in the area under the responsibility of the CSTO.”
On the morning of December 29, 2016, Azerbaijani troops attempted a diversionary infiltration near the village of Chinari. Although the Armenian Armed Forces prevented the enemy’s infiltration attempt and threw them back to the starting positions, the Armenian side lost 3 soldiers.
On this occasion, the CSTO issued a statement by the Secretary General of the organization Nikolay Bordyuzha, in which it was stated that the CSTO Secretariat received with alarm the information about the armed clashes near the village of Chinari in Armenia. “We consider this action in the territory of the CSTO member state as a provocation,” the statement said. The CSTO Secretary General expressed concern over the regular violations of the ceasefire. “It seemed that taking into account the efforts of both sides, as well as those of leaders of a number of countries, the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict would be more active, but the recent information from the region on regular violations of the ceasefire agreement, and especially the December 29 incident that led to soldiers’ deaths, are causing serious concern,” the official statement reads.
In early 2015, Azerbaijani forces began diversionary infiltration attempts, firing at the border communities of Tavush. Vanik Ghukasyan, a resident of Nerkin Karmiraghbyur village, Seryozha Sargsyan, a resident of Voskevan village, were killed and Leon Andreasyan was wounded as a result of diversionary infiltration attempts and shelling that lasted several days.
In this regard, during a meeting with Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian, CSTO Secretary General Nikolay Bordyuzha “expressed deep concern over the recent tensions on the line of contact between Armenia and Azerbaijan, reaffirming the CSTO readiness to assist in the peaceful settlement of the issue.”
As we can see, the statements of the CSTO on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border tensions have always been neutral. This organization has never clearly pointed out the “guilty” side, and has always directed its calls at “both sides”. A small exception was the statement of the CSTO Secretary Yuri Khachaturov in 2018, which mentioned the cases of shooting at civilian facilities and the border settlements of the Republic of Armenia. Nevertheless, this statement does not contain direct formulations addressed to Azerbaijan.
In general, it can be stated that the latest statement of the CSTO is not the only case when the CSTO uses neutral and unaddressed statements. Therefore, the claims of Hrant Melik-Shahnazaryan and Davit Jamalyan that this neutral statement of the CSTO is related to the criminal case against the former Secretary General of the organization Yuri Khachaturov and the tense relations between Armenia and the CSTO are manipulative.