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Stepan Grigoryan: It Was Powerful Blow To CSTO

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Stepan Grigoryan: It Was Powerful Blow To CSTO
STEPAN GRIGORYAN

This will ruin the organization.

Yesterday, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that the country will withdraw from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) if the organization does not answer the questions raised by Yerevan regarding the sovereign territory of Armenia.

How realistic is this scenario and what will it mean for the CSTO? Charter97.org addressed these question to Stepan Grigoryan, one of the leaders of the democratic movement in Armenia in the 1990s, a former deputy of the Supreme Council of the Republic and former Ambassador of Armenia to Russia:

— Let me start with the fact that there is already a decision on withdrawing Russian border guards from the Zvartnots airport. It's a very important step. Our authorities have long been dissatisfied with the Russian policy, the policy of the CSTO and the fact that the obligations are not fulfilled. Now the transition from words to real actions has begun.

Firstly, yesterday at a press conference, the Prime Minister of Armenia said that he had sent official letters about the withdrawal of Russian border guards from our main airport – Zvartnots – and Russia confirmed this. That is, from August 1, they will no longer be there. This is the first major result, taking into account the fact that there are a lot of Russian agents in Armenia, including in the government. It is very difficult to make decisions, but now a lot is being done to reduce Russia's military presence in Armenia.

Secondly, our government has long been dissatisfied with the CSTO. Armenia froze its participation a long time ago and now the de jure process of withdrawal has begun.

For example, before that, you would never have heard from Pashinyan that we were planning to withdraw from the CSTO. Yesterday, he spoke about leaving for the first time. Before that, there were words about discontent, about freezing. Moreover (that dropped from the attention of journalists), Pashinyan was asked a clarifying question and said that by the end of the year.

I have my own sources and I can tell you that we will withdraw from the CSTO and you will hear about it very soon. It's a matter of two or three months.

— CSTO troops were sent to Kazakhstan during mass protests. What will be the possible result of collapsing or weakening of the CSTO for Lukashenka and other autocrats in the countries of the former USSR?

— This is a powerful blow to the image of the CSTO. They "abandoned" their ally, adding to their quite unreliable image. It's very serious. Everyone now understands that Russia is an unreliable partner. Idon't want even to mention Lukashenka.

In general, I believe that Armenia's withdrawal from the CSTO will lead to the collapse of this organization.

— Speaker of the Armenian Parliament Alen Simonyan recently stated that Yerevan is ready to deepen relations with the European Union and become a candidate for EU membership. How do you assess the prospects for Armenia's accession to the European Union?

— I rate it very positively. We are ready to become a candidate for EU membership. In Armenia, indeed, the level of freedom is quite high. Approximately as in Moldova, Georgia, which received the status.

It is important that our authorities decide to officially submit an application. At yesterday's press conference, Pashinyan said several very important things that are tantamount to announcing the desire to join the EU: visa liberalization and the fact that we have now begun to focus on the European market. Europe is preparing a special regime for Armenian goods.

These two factors suggest that Armenia has almost officially applied for membership. It is clear that tomorrow we will not become members of the EU, but an important political decision has been made to move towards integration.

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