Over a hundred people gathered in Armenia’s capital, Yerevan, on Sunday demanding their country leave the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO).
The organisation is a Russian-led military alliance that includes several former Soviet nations, including Armenia.
Azerbaijan, Armenia’s neighbour, is not part of the organisation.
The demonstrators argued the alliance did not do enough to protect their country during recent fighting with Azerbaijan. And they called for Yerevan to move closer to Western powers.
“The US and Europe are our last hope,” said a woman at the protest. “I am here today because I want us to get out of the CSTO.
“The CSTO has become a useless organisation for our state. It does not do anything. It does not help it.”
Another protester said: “this thing called the CSTO is only there to defend Russia’s interests.
“This organisation had to help Armenia during the war, and it did not help.”
The calls come after fighting broke out along the Armenia-Azerbaijan border last week.
Shortly after midnight on September 13, Yerevan claimed that Baku shelled six Armenian settlements within its borders and that that aggression was unprovoked.
Baku denies the claims and has said that its military was responding to Armenian attempts to mine Azeri positions. Yerevan has also denied the accusation.
The CSTO said it is sending a monitoring mission to the region in response to the fighting that, it is claimed, has killed more than 200 soldiers on both sides.
The two countries have fought two previous wars over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.
In 2020, a six-weeks war resulted in the deaths of over 6,500 troops. And more than 91,000 people were forced to flee the territory into Armenia.
The recent protest comes after the speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, visited the country for a three-day trip. Pelosi is the highest-ranking US official to visit Armenia since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
‘Illegal attack on Armenia’
During her historic visit, she described the fighting as an illegal attack on Armenian territory by its neighbour.
“We strongly condemn those attacks — on behalf of Congress — which threaten (the) prospects of the much-needed peace agreement,” Pelosi said during a news conference.
“Armenia has particular importance to us because of the focus on security following an illegal and deadly attack by Azerbaijan on the Armenian territory.”
Azerbaijan responded to the accusation by calling it ‘unfair’ and ‘unacceptable’
“The unsubstantiated and unfair accusations levelled by Pelosi against Azerbaijan are unacceptable,” the country’s foreign ministry said.
“This is a serious blow to the efforts to normalize relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan.”
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