By Igor Slavinsky
The CSTO General Secretary, Nikolai Bordyuzha, brought the document to Minsk for signing. “We have a range of issues for discussion,” noted the President, on meeting his guest. “Firstly, Belarus chairs our military-political organisation and, secondly, the background of today’s talk is not very pleasant. I mean the situation in the world; we have a great deal of problems.”
‘We’ here refers to the CSTO: seven republics of the former USSR which have agreed to ensure security via joint action. The Musketeers once said ‘one for all and all for the one’; almost the same principle is laid in the North Atlantic Treaty, which founded NATO.
Naturally, much separates words from deeds — as confirmed by the situation in Kyrgyzstan. The CSTO has its own Collective Rapid Reaction Force, in addition to peace keepers and a mechanism of political consultation. However, when a riot took place in this Central Asian country and ethnic collapse began, other members of the organisation failed to clearly formulate a common position with which to promptly react to the crisis.
Mr. Bordyuzha has just returned from Bishkek, so Mr. Lukashenko asked him in detail about the situation in the Central Asia. “We chatted about the general situation and trends, and the measures being taken by Kyrgyzstan’s leadership to ensure stability and avoid repeated mass disorder, as occurred in the south of the country,” he told journalists. “We still have quite a few questions regarding extremist underground work and extremist organisations based in Afghanistan.”
The events in Kyrgyzstan have inspired reform. “The main approach is to ensure the organisation functions properly and is ready to act in any crisis situation,” said Mr. Bordyuzha. The plan brought to Minsk (prepared by the central office over a period of two months) includes not only the decisions of the Moscow summit but, also, a range of Belarusian initiatives.
Among other ideas, Minsk is proposing that the seven member states have their own peace keepers, who can be deployed at special request from the UN. This enhances the organisation’s authority. Belarus also insists on the perfect training and equipment of these collective forces. Mr. Lukashenko believes the CSTO should be involved not only in counteracting foreign aggression and fighting terrorism but, for example, reacting to natural disasters and man-made catastrophes, which also affect security.
Mr. Bordyuzha often visits CSTO member states, speaking to their presidents. Mr. Lukashenko told him, “We’d like to know how our colleagues react to this.” Additionally, the President discussed Belarusian-Russian relations with his guest, saying, “I’m interested in hearing your views on further prospects, including those of the Union State and its role within the CSTO.” Mr. Lukashenko has noted Mr. Bordyuzha’s importance within the Russian leadership; in the 1990s, he headed the Federal Border Service of Russia and was Secretary to the Russian Security Council.