Opposition Groups Call For Armenia's Withdrawal From CSTO On Eve Of Yerevan Summit

By RFE/RL's Armenian Service

A pro-Western opposition alliance staged a protest in Yerevan on November 22 calling for Armenia’s exit from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) ahead of a summit of the Moscow-led defense bloc in the Armenian capital.

The National-Democratic Pole (NDP), which consists of a number of political parties and fringe groups espousing mostly nationalist views, vowed to hold more protests on November 23 when leaders of the CSTO member states, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, are to meet in Yerevan.

Participants in the protest chanted anti-Russian slogans as they marched through central Yerevan. They charged that neither Russia nor other members of the CSTO, including Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, came to Armenia’s aid during or after deadly border clashes with Azerbaijan in September.

Yerevan said the clashes stemmed from Baku’s aggression and resulted in the occupation of sovereign Armenian territory.

Activists and supporters of the NDP, which is not represented in the Armenian parliament, branded both the CSTO and Russia as enemies of Armenia.

In an interview with Armenia’s Public Television on November 16, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian berated the CSTO for refusing to defend Armenia in what Yerevan says were a series of incursions by Azerbaijan since May 2021.

The rare open criticism of the CSTO from Yerevan came in the wake of public remarks by the authoritarian leader of Belarus, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who bluntly rejected Armenia’s appeal for military assistance, opposing any CSTO intervention in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict.

Pashinian said in the interview that answers regarding the CSTO’s position on the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict to be given at the upcoming summit were “extremely important” to Yerevan.

“I think that the attitude of Armenian citizens toward the CSTO and the future of our relations with the CSTO will be formed based on this matter,” he said.