Afghanistan and strengthening peacekeeping mission: what’s next for CSTO?
NUR-SULTAN. KAZINFORM - The leaders of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) met on May 16 to discuss where the organization stands as it marks the 20th anniversary and the 30th anniversary of the Collective Security Treaty. More about the jubilee meeting and its significance considering geopolitical changes in the region is in the latest analytical article of Kazinform.
The CSTO is an alliance of Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. While the Collective Security Treaty was signed on May 15, 1992, in Tashkent, ten years later May 14, 2002, the Collective Security Council in Moscow decided to reorganize the CST member states into an organization. On September 18, 2003, the CSTO Charter entered into force that says the key objective of the organization is to «strengthen peace, international and regional security and stability, protect on a collective basis the independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of member states.»
Over the 20 years since the establishment, the organization has established itself as an effective multilateral cooperation mechanism with serious potential for further development. That’s what President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev told the meeting saying that the creation of the CSTO paved a way for a solid system of collective security across the vast expanse of Eurasia.
«The CSTO’s permanent working bodies operate successfully; there are various formats for close cooperation and interaction. The CSTO’s authority, law enforcement and peacekeeping potential are being strengthened,» said Tokayev.
Situation in Afghanistan
While strengthening peace and stability, international and regional security remains a key goal of the organization, Tokayev stressed the need for greater efforts in this area, considering the developments in Afghanistan. The situation in the country has been far from stable since the Taliban group took over control in August 2021.
All countries to the north are right in their fears that risks stemming from the country including rising extremist activity and drug trafficking may spill over. That is coupled with the looming humanitarian crisis that also might have its consequences for the region.
«The unstable situation there as well as the unrelenting activity of armed groups on the territory of Afghanistan continue to threaten the security and stability of our states. I believe the CSTO must consider every potential threat while paying even more attention to ensuring the security of the southern borders of Central Asia,» said Tokayev at the CSTO meeting.
Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov agreed with Tokayev saying that the situation at the southern borders of the CSTO remains alarming.
«Primarily due to the unhindered activities of radical religious terrorist groups in some Afghan provinces. (…) I think we should keep focusing our attention and analysis on the Afghan issue. It is necessary to carry out an entire package of political-diplomatic and military-technical measures to ensure security in this area. At the same time, it is important to provide humanitarian aid for the Afghan people. Our fellow country people are among them,» said Japarov.
He said his country is reeling from the consequences of Western sanctions against Russia that put a strain on the Kyrgyz economy, which, according to him, has not yet recovered from the impact of COVID-19.
Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon, whose country shares a 1,400-kilometer border with Afghanistan, said negative factors have been accumulating in Afghanistan over the past 40 years.
«They have worsened the military-political and socioeconomic situation in that country. In this regard, the CSTO needs to be prepared for various scenarios on the southern borders,» he added.
Strengthening peacekeeping forces
The need to strengthen the peacekeeping provision of the CSTO was also raised by Tokayev. He said a plan is being developed to equip peacekeeping forces with modern weapons, equipment, and special tools.
At Kazakhstan’s initiative, the institute of Special Representative of the CSTO Secretary-General for peacekeeping has been established.
«This means that all the necessary tools have been created, and we suggest that it is time to set the goal of getting the CSTO involved with the United Nations’ peacekeeping activities,» said Tokayev.
The first time the CSTO used its peacekeeping provision was to help Kazakhstan protect the order in the January unrest. In accordance with the decision of the CSTO Collective Security Council adopted on January 6, 2022, the CSTO peacekeeping forces have been sent to the Kazakhstan for a limited period until January 19, the day when the last troops departed the country.
Greater political interaction
President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko spoke about the urgent need to «strengthen political interaction and coordination of the CSTO member states.»
«It is important to improve the efficiency of the foreign policy and security consultation mechanism. We need to speak more often on behalf of the CSTO on international platforms so that its voice and position can be seen and heard,» he said.
He also suggested strengthening the forecasting and analytical component in the CSTO Secretariat’s work and combining the potential of the analytical centers of the CSTO member states and forming a network of these centers to assist in the development of conceptual documents on current issues on the international agenda.
«The organization has a powerful collective potential for further progressive development, but it depends only on us today, it is up to us, how effectively the CSTO will use this potential and whether it will continue to exist in the next 10, 20 or 30 years,» said Lukashenko.
His country is expected to assume chairmanship in the organization next year after Armenia. Kazakhstan chaired the organization in 2018.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said the organization plans to hold joint CSTO exercises in autumn in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. «I am confident that these measures will boost the combat readiness of our states’ military agencies and improve their coordination, as well as increase the entire peacekeeping potential of the CSTO,» he said.
Multilateral cooperation was also on the meeting agenda. Putin suggested expanding cooperation with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Commonwealth of Independent States, whom he described as «natural partners.»
«Once again, I would like to note the importance of close coordination between CSTO members in matters of foreign policy, coordinated actions at the UN and other multilateral platforms, and promotion of common approaches to the multiplying international security issues,» said Putin.
The meeting in Moscow concluded with the signing of a joint statement where the leaders commended the organization’s growing interaction in the international arena and the level of foreign policy coordination on major items of the global and regional agendas saying they are ready to deepen cooperation with the United Nations and other interested international and regional organizations and states.
The leaders are expected to meet again but for the Eurasian Economic Forum on May 27 in Bishkek.
Written by Assel Satubaldina