Belarus distorts collective security idea – Kremlin

(RIA Novosti / Pavel Lisitsyn)
Belarusian leader Aleksandr Lukashenko has vulgarized the ideas of the Collective Security Treaty Organization with his statements about the possibility of suppressing mass protests by its forces, Kremlin says.

­Moscow believes that the president of Belarus has misinterpreted the CSTO agreement for the use of the Collective Rapid Reaction Force for preventing coups.

“Although the Belarusian leader is considered Russia’s ally, he has used the idea of CSTO for his own purposes and vulgarized it,” a Kremlin source told Izvestia daily.

The proposal was put forward by Moscow during an informal summit of member states in the Kazakh capital, Astana, on August 12.

“It implies the use of the CSTO potential for the defense of the constitutional order. When national forces are unable to gain control of the situation, when there is a threat to the life and security of citizens and mass looting, then the CSTO can step in,” the organization’s general secretary, Nikolay Bordyuzha, explained to the newspaper.

“What happened in Minsk in December 2010 is a domestic affair,” he added.

Late last year, mass riots broke out in the Belarusian capital after the presidential election, which was alleged by the opposition to be fraudulent.

Protest mood is still strong in the country, heated up by the continuing crackdown on opposition members and journalists.

Earlier this week, meeting Nikolay Bordyuzha in Minsk, President Lukashenko took the opportunity to warn his political opponents: “We are talking about the use of the Collective Rapid Reaction Force not only in case of other countries’ interference, but also in case of interference of the other CSTO member states.” These are comments which Moscow apparently has not appreciated.

During the latest meeting, CSTO leaders discussed reform of the organization, which would involve some procedural changes like the decision-making process but, more importantly a new concept of its relations and co-operation with NATO. Although one of the tasks will be providing partial compatibility of CSTO and alliance’s forces, the key goal of the CSTO is strengthen its positions in Central Asia.

A leading Russian think-tank, INSOR, has drafted a series of initiatives for the reform of the organization.

“The CSTO should act in very special circumstances: terrorism, extremism, an external threat. For example, Islamic terrorists paid from abroad breaking into the territory of Tajikistan,” commented INSOR head Igor Yurgens.

This, in fact, reflects the main aim of the organization, which is countering external military threats and the defense of the territorial integrity of its member-states. The CSTO is currently made up of seven former Soviet republics, Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.