By Igor Slavinsky
Belarus currently presides over the CSTO, with an informal summit in Astana scheduled for August 12th. “We, as the presiding country, will have to work hard, as will you,” the Belarusian President has told Mr. Bordyuzha. “We must discuss the existing situation and issues which may arise,” Mr. Lukashenko stressed. “There are so many serious questions. It’s no secret that the whole Muslim world is boiling and we can’t exclude the fact that difficulties may appear in our Muslim states — primarily in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan; Kazakhstan is also feeling the heat on all sides.”
General Bordyuzha recently visited Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Armenia, so was able to tell Mr. Lukashenko in detail about his trips. “Other issues of joint activities must be discussed — particularly those relating to our military collaboration,” continued the Belarusian leader.
Since Belarus became chair of the CSTO, Minsk has been active in reforming the organisation. The major goal is to turn this consultative body into a true military-political bloc, ready to render prompt assistance in a crisis situation. Everyone remembers that, when the political crisis in Bishkek inspired ethnic collisions in the suburbs of Kyrgyzstan, the international community, including the CSTO allies, stood aside. That crisis clearly demonstrated that the CSTO lacks the ability to be considered a true power.
The summit in Kazakhstan will be informal, with no official documents due to be signed. However, as a rule, the most significant initiatives are discussed during such casual meetings, before being written down. For example, Minsk believes that the CSTO needs a serious peacekeeping element, of course under the aegis and with the approval of the UN. Moreover, the UN General Assembly has already adopted a special resolution on co-operation with the CSTO. Definite powers are allocated for this purpose, to include the 120th Independent Guards Mechanised Brigade from Belarus. The CSTO also needs a targeted programme of equipping CSTO forces with military weaponry and equipment.
Of course, the CSTO’s security requires integration and a wide scope of influence — tackling drug trafficking, illegal migration and organised crime. Security officials are able to share experience while conducting joint operations within the organisation. In May, the ‘Nelegal-2011’ (Illegal) operation was held and June hosted the ‘Kanal-2011’ (Channel) anti-drug operation. It’s no secret that major flows of illegal migrants and drugs come from Asia to Europe, with almost no borders inside the Customs Union. As a result of the anti-drug operation (featuring CSTO states, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine) almost 3,000 crimes were detected and over 12,000 criminal cases were initiated. In this sphere, a military-political bloc would provide tangible aid.