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Armenia's Pashinian Brings Karabakh Issue To CSTO Meeting


Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian

YEREVAN -- Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian has called on fellow member states of the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) to “consider the interests of all participating nations” when it comes to issues such as foreign policy and military-technical cooperation.

Pashinian made the remarks on November 5 during a session of the CSTO Parliamentary Assembly in Yerevan, in a thinly veiled criticism of Russia and Belarus -- two members of the grouping that have supplied weapons to nonmember Azerbaijan.

Yerevan and Baku have been at loggerheads over Azerbaijan’s breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Leonid Kalashnikov, head of the Russian State Duma’s Committee on CIS Affairs and Eurasian Integration, said Russia sells weapons "not only to Azerbaijan but also to its allies and partners," according to Interfax.

"Among these allies is Armenia, to which [Russia] sells much more and it sells its weapons it never sells to other countries," Kalashnikov told journalists in Yerevan.

Armenian authorities claim that Baku has since 2011 purchased up to $4 billion worth of arms, including some modern offensive weapons.

Hundreds of Armenians staged protests in front of the Russian Embassy in Yerevan in April 2016 following a brief renewal of fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh in which Azerbaijan used some of the weapons purchased from Russia.

Scores of soldiers were killed on both sides during four days of fighting -- the most serious escalation in the conflict zone since a fragile 1994 cease-fire brokered by Russia.

In an interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian Service, Konstantin Zatulin, deputy head of a Russian State Duma committee dealing with post-Soviet states, said that Azerbaijan should not have used the Russian weapons in the 2016 clashes.

“In general, I believe it was unreasonable for Azerbaijan to commit a large-scale cease-fire violation in April 2016,” said Zatulin, who was in Yerevan for the CSTO session.

“I support a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and from this point of view I hope that corresponding [Russian] bodies, our companies, and the state will draw certain conclusions,” the Russian lawmaker said.

Zatulin added, though, that while Russia has sold weapons to Azerbaijan at market prices, Armenia, as a member of the CSTO, has received armaments from Moscow at knockdown prices.

“Azerbaijan is a country that enjoys sufficient resources for purchasing armaments. It purchases weapons not only from Russia, but also from Israel, for example, and other countries,” he said.

Mainly Armenian populated Nagorno-Karabakh declared independence from Azerbaijan amid a 1988-94 war that claimed an estimated 30,000 lives and displaced hundreds of thousands of people.

Since 1994, it has been under the control of ethnic-Armenian forces that Azerbaijan says include troops supplied by Armenia. The region's claim to independence has not been recognized by any country.

Negotiations involving the Minsk Group helped forge a cease-fire in the region, which is not always honored, but have failed to produce a lasting settlement of the conflict.

On November 5 in Yerevan, Pashinian also hailed the CSTO as a “key factor” for regional stability and security and said that the grouping has “strategic importance” for Armenia.

Besides Armenia, Russia, and Belarus, the Moscow-led CSTO also includes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.

With reporting by Interfax

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