All Eurasian Union members will join CSTO – Lukashenko

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko (AFP Photo / Belta / Pool / Gennady Semyonov)
The President of Belarus and current chairman of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, Alexandr Lukashenko, says membership in a future Eurasian Union will also mean membership of the CSTO.

­Lukashenko told the parliamentary assembly of the military-political bloc on Thursday: “All republics that are now members of the EurAsEC without exception will become members of the CSTO. Even Uzbekistan, which presently takes a special stand, will eventually understand that without the CSTO it will be hard for them to retain their independence.” However, the politician stressed that the bloc’s member states will not  intervene in Uzbekistan’s internal politics or try to influence any decision on taking part in the interstate unions.

At the same time, Lukashenko criticized the Uzbeki authorities for not taking action to guarantee their return to the CSTO and, in a somewhat cryptic aside, accused them of playing what he called a triple game.

The CSTO is a military-political bloc recognized by the UN, comprising Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Armenia and Uzbekistan. In recent years, Uzbekistan has opposed many CSTO initiatives, especially the creation of a rapid-response force that was criticized by Russia and other members of the bloc.

The Russian news agency Interfax on Thursday quoted a source in the Russian Foreign Ministry as saying that though Uzbekistan's co-operation within the CSTO has not been active enough, Moscow does not want Tashkent to quit the bloc. "Any sovereign state has a right to join our organization and to make a decision to leave it. But it would be wrong to say that we demand this.  This is not true," the source said.

"Indeed, it is necessary to admit that, regrettably, Uzbekistan is not participating in many areas of multilateral co-operation, including army building, co-operation in countering threats coming from Afghanistan, the Collective Operational Reaction Force and peacekeeping. Its involvement in military-technological co-operation is limited," the source said.