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Extending Lease on Gyumri Russian Military Base was Right Thing to Do: Ter-Petrossian

The guarantor of Armenia’s security is not the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organisation), it’s the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) — the CSTO is simply a detail that may or may not exist; nothing will change from that, said first president of the Republic of Armenia and leader of the opposition bloc the Armenian National Congress (HAK) Levon Ter-Petrossian in an interview with The Moscow News.

“Where is the CSTO used really? There has been no such case so far and there never will be,” said Ter-Petrossian.

According to him, the CSTO has nothing to do with the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, since the CSTO is a contract to protect the external borders of the CIS.

“This is clear. The fact that Azerbaijan is not a CSTO member means nothing. Azerbaijan is in the CIS. According to its charter, the CSTO has no connection with the Karabakh conflict. This is a very common misconception, which even the experts for some reason don’t know. If suddenly war breaks out in Karabakh, Russia is not obliged to defend the Armenian side. Many people think that it has that obligation, but that’s a very dangerous delusion. There is no such duty,” he said.

With regard to the Russian military base in Gyumri, the opposition leader believes that it is 100% a part of the system that guarantees the security of Armenia and there’s also a psychological aspect.

“For Turkey, the Russian base in Armenia is undoubtedly an obstacle to intervention — regardless of whether the base will intervene in Armenia’s favor or not. Simply the existence of the base already says a lot to Turkey,” he said.

Asked whether it was right to extend the lease of the military base, Ter-Petrossian said, “Of course — they did the right thing.”

“Kyrgyzstan gets some money for [the US military installation at] Manas, but here — no. That’s understandable. Well, Americans are richer and they pay more. Russia has not yet been able to pay. But, all the same,  there are benefits that come with the military base: it creates jobs, for example,” he concluded.