"Family photo"of CSTO leaders

"Family photo"of CSTO leaders

On June 24, Imangali Tasmagambetov, Secretary General of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), suggested that the organization might expand its functionality and membership. "The need for a military-political alliance is growing significantly," Tasmagambetov remarked, citing historical precedents and favorable conditions offered by the CSTO. The CSTO, led by Russia, includes Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Armenia. However, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan recently criticized the organization and announced a de facto freeze on Armenia's participation.

In light of these developments, speculation has arisen about the possibility of Azerbaijan joining the CSTO. Azerbaijani officials have periodically dismissed the notion, asserting the country's capability to establish its own security framework.

Hikmet Babaoglu, Deputy Chairman of the Milli Majlis Committee on Defense, Security, and Fight Against Corruption, in an interview with Turan, expressed confidence in Azerbaijan's independent security capabilities. "Azerbaijan is becoming a center capable of forming a new security umbrella," Babaoglu stated, highlighting remarks made by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev at an international conference in Shusha. Aliyev suggested that Azerbaijan, in collaboration with the Organization of Turkic States, could emerge as a new power center in international relations, encompassing economic, political, diplomatic, and military strength. Thus, according to Babaoglu, the idea of Azerbaijan joining the CSTO is irrelevant.

Babaoglu acknowledged that the evolving global landscape could bring new realities within two years, contingent on the outcomes of the war in Eastern Europe. He proposed that the Organization of Turkic States might develop its own security umbrella or form a collective security organization.

Elkhan Shahinoglu, head of the Atlas Research Center, noted in an interview with Radio Azadlig that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had proposed a new security architecture for Eurasia at a CSTO foreign ministers' meeting in Almaty. "Russia wants to strengthen its military bloc amid its war in Ukraine and deteriorating relations with many countries," Shahinoglu noted. This proposal could imply either the expansion of the CSTO or the creation of a new military bloc.

Shahinoglu emphasized that Russia seeks to include Azerbaijan in this new security architecture. However, he argued that CSTO membership contradicts Azerbaijan's national and security interests. "At the official level, Azerbaijan does not join blocs. We became a member of the Non-Aligned Movement to avoid affiliations with NATO or the CSTO," he said. Shahinoglu expressed skepticism about Azerbaijan responding positively to any CSTO membership proposal, citing the desire to avoid damaging relations with the West.

The prospect of Azerbaijan joining the CSTO remains a complex and contentious issue. While the CSTO seeks to expand its influence, Azerbaijan appears committed to maintaining its independent security strategy and fostering alliances that align more closely with its national interests and regional aspirations.

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