Plenipotentiary Representative of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the Permanent Council under the Collective Security Treaty Organisation
CSTO: Ensuring National Security of Kazakhstan through Collective Cooperation Instruments
Session of the CSTO Collective Security Council. Minsk, 30 November 2017. (Akorda.kz)
In 2018, Kazakhstan assumed the role of chair of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO). This decision was made at the anniversary meeting of the Collective Security Council, the highest body of the CSTO, which includes the heads of state of this organisation, held in Minsk on Nov. 30, 2017.
For the period of our chairmanship in the CSTO, President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev put forward five priorities that were fully supported by the member states. Among them are the expansion of interaction instruments in the military sphere, organisation of practical military and technical cooperation, CSTO participation in building an international global system for countering terrorism, joint responses of member states to cybersecurity threats and increasing the effectiveness of measures to counter illicit drug trafficking.
Thus, this year the key military and political organisation of the Eurasian space will develop within the priority areas outlined by Kazakhstan and its activities will be aimed at further strengthening collective security in our vast region.
In the modern system of international relations, ensuring national security of states is difficult and not very effective without full participation in multilateral cooperation formats aimed at ensuring global and regional security.
The Republic of Kazakhstan is an active participant in authoritative and recognised international organisations, such as the United Nations (UN), the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), and others. At the current stage, the active work of our country in the UN Security Council contributes to the strengthening of security in the vast region of Central Asia. Moreover, at the initiative of our President, such important international structures as the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) have been established and are effectively operating.
At the same time, the CSTO is undoubtedly one of the practical formats for multilateral cooperation of Kazakhstan with its partners in the Eurasian region in the field of security.
Established on the basis of the Collective Security Treaty, the international military and political organisation today unites six countries. Kazakhstan's CSTO partners are Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan.
The organisation is aimed at strengthening peace, international and regional security and stability, protecting independence on a collective basis and territorial integrity and sovereignty of member states mainly through political means.
At the same time, Article 4 of the basic treaty states that if one of the states of the organisation is subjected to military aggression, it will be considered as aggression against all CSTO member states that can immediately provide the needy state with all necessary assistance, in accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter, including military.
Thus, the CSTO is a real mechanism for ensuring collective security and preventing potential challenges and threats to member states, including Kazakhstan.
In this context, the importance of cooperation among the CSTO member states is given to military cooperation. Thus, an effective network of forces and means of the collective security system has been created within the organisation. Moreover, the system of organisation and management of the CSTO Collective Force is being improved every year.
At the initiative of the President of Kazakhstan, the Collective Rapid Reaction Force (CRRF) was created, which today includes more than 20,000 people. Experts note that these are the most combat-ready units of the armed forces of the member states, equipped with modern weapons. The Collective Rapid Deployment Force (CRDF) of the Central Asian region has been singled out separately in the CSTO's system of forces and means and the peacekeeping potential of the organisation has been built and strengthened.
To increase the combat capability and ensure the combat cohesion of the CSTO forces and facilities, various exercises are held on an annual basis. For example, in 2017 the exercises of the CSTO peacekeeping contingent titled Unbreakable Brotherhood 2017 were held in Kazakhstan and the exercises of the Collective Rapid Response Force titled Interaction 2017 were held in Armenia.
A range of measures for joint operational and combat training is planned in 2018. The series of exercises will be called Combat Brotherhood 2018. This year, the main activities are planned in Kyrgyzstan and Russia.
Particular attention is paid to the development of a crisis response mechanism within the CSTO. In 2016 the Crisis Response Centre was created, which is responsible for information and analytical, organisational and technical support for decisions of the CSTO statutory bodies that allow reacting quickly to emerging crisis phenomena, including natural and man-made disasters.
The military-technical and military-economic cooperation of the CSTO countries is being strengthened. Within the organisation, the Agreement on the Basic Principles of Military and Technical Cooperation, Concept of Standardisation of Arms and Military Equipment, Programme of Military and Economic Cooperation and other system-forming documents have been signed and are being implemented.
With the adoption of these legal acts, the CSTO member states have entered joint development of military standards aimed at improving the compatibility of weapons and military equipment, which, in general, will contribute to the development of the defense industry of Kazakhstan and other countries of the organisation. An effective system of training and retraining personnel for the armed forces and other law enforcement agencies of our countries has been built up.
Every year, the interaction of the CSTO member states intensifies along the lines of countering the pressing challenges and threats to security.
In particular, activities are being intensified to improve the coordination of efforts of the member states to strengthen the CSTO's antiterrorist force potential, conduct joint preventive measures to avert CSTO nationals from leaving the country to the hotbeds of terrorist activity, work out a mechanism for search actions and detain and extradite those involved in committing crimes of terrorism and extremism.
An important step in the fight of the CSTO countries against manifestations of international terrorism was the decision to form a single list of organisations recognised as terrorist organisations in the format of the organisation. At present, along with other CSTO countries, such a list is being formed. Thus, after the harmonisation process, the parties will be able to reach a single list of terrorist organisations whose activities will be stopped in all CSTO countries. There is no such level of cooperation in the field of collective recognition of terrorist structures in any other international organisation.
Another relevant area of cooperation in the CSTO format is the prevention of possible risks from the territory of Afghanistan. Within the organisation, the working group on Afghanistan under the Council of Foreign Ministers of the CSTO has been established and is successfully operating, which systematically tracks the situation in this country and, first of all in the north of Afghanistan, and prepares substantive recommendations for decision making by the leadership of the member states. Thus, the CSTO makes a significant contribution to building an international system of countering terrorism at the regional and global levels.
To increase the effectiveness of measures to counter illicit drug trafficking, a large amount of activities is carried out among the CSTO member states. The CSTO Anti-drug Strategy until 2020 is being implemented, which aims to significantly reduce the level of illicit drug trafficking, as well as their non-medical consumption in the organisation's member states.
The organisation and tactics of the CSTO comprehensive operational and preventive operation titled “Channel” aimed at combating illicit drug trafficking are being improved and law enforcement agencies of 22 countries are involved in the operation. For example, during 11 years of this operation, more than 360 tonnes of drugs were seized from illegal traffic; in 2017 alone, four stages of the operation were carried out and more than 20 tonnes of drugs were seized.
Illegal migration remains a serious problem on the international scale. The relevance of migration control is especially increasing in light of threats of international terrorism and drug trafficking. Therefore, the CSTO countries regularly cooperate in the fight against illegal migration, take constant operational and preventive measures and carry out special operations called “illegal migrant,” during which special services and law enforcement agencies of the CSTO countries arrested nearly 1.500 people listed as internationally wanted.
Every year, cyber-attacks become a more and more urgent problem, which today regularly attack the information systems of almost all countries in the world. Destructive forces more actively use information technology. For example, the terrorist and extremist organisations have learned to skillfully use social networks, popular messengers to advance their criminal ideology and recruit new members.
In this regard, the joint activities of member states to prevent threats to cybersecurity have become a priority today in the common agenda of the CSTO. In 2015, the CSTO created the Coordinating and Consulting Centre to Respond to Computer Incidents. The parties actively cooperate and coordinate their actions on this platform.
They systematically work on practical mechanisms of cooperation in the field of information security. In order to prevent crimes in information technology, the proxy operation is carried out on an annual basis. Since 2009, the CSTO member states have identified about 80,000 information resources that represent a threat to their national security; 33,500 of them have been suspended and more than 15,000 criminal cases have been initiated. At the same time, just in 2017 they detected more than 23,000 information resources that threaten the security of the CSTO countries; more than 20,000 of them have been blocked.
Importantly, member states of the CSTO signed the Agreement on Cooperation in the Field of Information Security on Nov. 30, 2017 in Minsk. The document is especially important considering the growing challenges in this field.
Kazakhstan proceeds from the fact that it is impossible to ensure information security without qualified personnel. In this regard, the CSTO member states implement a project to train specialists of relevant ministries and agencies in information security at the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute (MEPhI). Kazakh experts are also involved in this work.
Political cooperation within the organisation is traditionally rich. The CSTO heads of state meet on an annual basis, ministers of foreign affairs meet several times a year at different venues and secretaries of security councils and ministers of defense meet on a semi-annual basis.
Active daily work is conducted in the framework of the Permanent Council of the CSTO, which is comprised of authorised permanent representatives of the member states. Cooperation is established between the ambassadors of the CSTO countries in major capitals and international organisations. Heads of relevant structural divisions of the various ministries of our countries hold consultations on a regular basis.
As a result of this interaction, the CSTO developed and approved a wide range of more than 50 international agreements and treaties and adopted various decisions and political statements on current international issues, forming the strategic basis for further development of the organisation.
For example, in 2016 the CSTO approved the 2025 Strategy of Collective Security. This work had been carried out for more than five years, taking into account all the positions of member states and the forecasts for the development of the situation in the CSTO area of responsibility and in the world at large. Last year, the heads of state approved an Action Plan aimed at implementation of all provisions of the strategy.
Another example is the adoption of the Anniversary Declaration at the 2017 summit, which reflected the main results of the work during the past period and the vision of states on topical security issues. This document, like other policy statements, is promulgated in key international organisations and mass media. It is crucial that the text of the Anniversary Declaration reflects the role of Kazakhstan in the political settlement of the situation in Syria as a platform for the international Astana talks.
Thus, all CSTO documents always take fully into account the interests of Kazakhstan, emphasise the role of Astana in resolving international security problems and note our contribution to the development of the organisation.
As a full-fledged actor of international relations, the CSTO has established constructive and mutually-beneficial relations with leading international and regional organisations, including the UN, OSCE, CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States), SCO, and many others.
With the election of Kazakhstan as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, the two organisations have intensified their cooperation. Kazakhstan, with the support of partners, is actively promoting the common interests of the UN and the CSTO.
The leaders of the secretariats of the UN and the CSTO held constructive meetings in 2017. In particular, there was a meeting between UN Under-Secretary-General Vladimir Voronkov and CSTO Secretary-General Yuri Khachaturov, where the parties discussed issues of cooperation with the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism and a meeting between the Head of the CSTO Secretariat and UN Under-Secretary-General Jean-Pierre Lacroix, where they discussed various aspects of cooperation on peace-building operations.
In November 2017, during the visit to Moscow, OSCE Secretary-General Thomas Greminger took part in the meeting of the CSTO Permanent Council and met with Khachaturov. In the course of these meetings, Greminger called for the progressive development of cooperation between the two organisations and invited the CSTO Secretariat to participate more in OSCE projects at the expert level, for example, on the issue of combating transnational threats.
The CSTO is comprehensively adapting its working bodies to modern realities. In particular, at this time a political decision has been taken and a reform of the CSTO Secretariat and Joint Staff has been implemented to optimise the activities of these bodies. For example, in 2017 the CSTO summit made decisions “On the staff number and structure of the CSTO Secretariat” and “On the distribution of quota posts for the military of the CSTO Joint Staff.”
This reform, for example, attaches great importance to the issues of information support of CSTO activities. For example, the secretariat created a new Department for Information and Public Relations. One of its priorities will be strengthening the positive image of the CSTO in the world.
The reform of the CSTO Joint Staff will focus on increasing combat readiness and mobility of forces and means of collective security.
Thus, optimisation of the structure of the CSTO Secretariat and Joint Staff will help to orient them to really important and practical goals of the organisation.
For the CSTO, 2017 was an anniversary year – it has been 25 years since the signing of the Collective Security Treaty and the organisation celebrated its 15th anniversary. To date, the CSTO has a fairly solid legal and regulatory framework and practical mechanisms on all cooperation tracks.
At the same time, the organisation is entering a new stage of its development under the chairmanship of Kazakhstan, which is fundamentally important and symbolic. The priorities of the President of Kazakhstan will form the basis of long-term development of the CSTO and will contribute to further strengthening the collective security in the region of its responsibility.
The approaches promoted by Kazakhstan to further strengthening the CSTO contribute to the harmonious and balanced development of all spheres of cooperation in ensuring regional security, help to increase the applied mechanisms against traditional and emerging threats and challenges and enable creating new trust-building channels of cooperation of this organisation with international partners.
On the other hand, every year the CSTO and strengthening cooperation with member states become an important tool for Kazakhstan for multilateral cooperation in the field of security. Regular preventive operational actions and strengthening mechanisms make a significant contribution to ensuring the national security of Kazakhstan and our partners in the region.
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