493 words - September 25, 2013 | © DiploNews, all rights reserved.
The heads of the Member States of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) - Armenia, Belarus, Russia, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan came to Sochi – the Russian city that will host the 2014 Winter Olympics - to participate in a regular meeting of the organization's Collective Security Council.
The members discussed ways to strengthen and expand cooperation within the organization which has started a very intensive program of joint military exercises intended to make the Collective Rapid Reaction Force more effective and improve its coordination: Grom-2013 in Kyrgyzstan on September 20, Interaction-2013 in Belarus on September 19-25, and Unbreakable Brotherhood-2013 in Russia on October 7-11.
On Syria, the members have been unanimous in saying that the situation should be settled exclusively through peaceful political means. "The CSTO cannot ignore as serious an issue as the Syrian conflict. The armed groups operating in Syria did not come out of nowhere and will not disappear into nowhere. The issue of terrorism 'spilling over' from one country into another is very real and can affect the interests of any of our countries," said Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Also, the Sochi meeting focused on how the CSTO could strengthen Tajikistan's border with neighboring Afghanistan in view of the forthcoming reduction in the NATO/ISAF military presence in 2014. According to the Russian leader, there is reason to expect a considerable rise in Afghan drug trafficking activity and in terrorist groups' activeness. "Extremists are already attempting to spread their activity into neighboring countries, including the Central Asian countries that are CSTO members," warned Mr. Putin.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko agreed that it is actually vital for the security of the CSTO member states to help Tajikistan reinforce the border with Afghanistan. "Everyone knows that Americans show their interest in the region and we hear frequent reports about the intention of the US and NATO to leave some armaments and hardware, which are now in Afghanistan, in the area. They are even ready to finance the construction of border guard posts at the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border," the Belarusian head of state remarked. That's why the CSTO "will take into account all possible development scenarios, take preventive measures, and provide additional collective assistance to Tajikistan," promised Mr. Putin.
Analysts noted that the Belarusian President has finally attended the summit in spite of ongoing tensions with Russia over trade disputes. "We are a sovereign and independent nation. We have never been a problem for our neighbors and primarily for our Russian brothers. But we are not going to allow some individual swindlers from the West or the East to walk all over us," the Belarusian leader said this week. Nevertheless, Mr. Lukashenko welcomed that the CSTO managed to create a flexible multi-vector system to respond to new challenges and threats using mostly preventive measure. Such an initiative "is of great importance in the modern world," the Belarusian leader emphasized.
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