Russia Wants To Call Shots On CSTO Members' Foreign Policy
Russia is trying to get its putative allies in the Collective Security Treaty Organization to adopt unified official positions on issues from human rights, terrorism and even World War II history, with the aim of making the group speak with a single voice on foreign policy issues. That's according to a report in the Russian newspaper Kommersant and summarized in English by Ferghana News. According to Kommersant, CSTO members received a draft nine-page document of the "collective directives" on September 26, and that the issue will be formally taken up at a CSTO summit in Moscow next month.
From Ferghana's account:
A nine-page long paper embraces such areas as countering attempts of falsification of the history (primarily meaning the history of the World War II), as well as areas like international security and disarmament, anti-missile defense, cooperation between CSTO and OSCE with NATO, situation in Afghanistan, response to international terrorism, drugs and organized crime, as well as human rights. The countries of the alliance are going to make joint statements and coordinate their positions in respect to the above issues in front of such organizations as UN, OSCE and other international forums.
Russia's envoy to the CSTO Igor Lyakin-Frolov told Kommersant: "Collective directives -- this is an important tool to determine the main targets of our common foreign policy." And he added that a key goal of this was to gain NATO recognition of the group:
[T]he new initiative should, according to Mr. Lyakina-Frolov, "make the CSTO visible and important international institution with a serious military and political weight, which will be listened to in the world...
They [NATO] are losing out because of the reluctance to approach us, especially in light of the 2014 scheduled start of the withdrawal of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. We are ready to cooperate with NATO, but against the 'Washington Obkom,'" complained Lyakin-Frolov.
The report adds that Uzbekistan has refused to sign the document, and that it was this particular move that prompted Belarus's president, Alexander Lukashenko, to publicly call Tashkent out last week on its loyalty to the CSTO. Clearly Uzbekistan is playing hard-to-get with all its suitors these days.
I'm not sure that having a common policy on World War II revisionism and human rights (especially given that it will likely be at odds with the NATO take on human rights) will help the organization be recognized abroad any more easily. It will, of course, allow Russia to dictate more of these countries' foreign policy, a sort of post-Cold War Finlandization. So it'll be interesting to see if the other CSTO members -- Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan -- sign on.
Joshua Kucera, a senior correspondent, is Eurasianet's former Turkey/Caucasus editor and has written for the site since 2007.
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