21 Dec 2018 14:52

Lukashenko signs Collective Security Council draft decision to appoint Zas CSTO sec gen

MINSK. Dec 21 (Interfax) - Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has signed a draft decision of the Collective Security Council to appoint Belarusian Security Council State Secretary Stanislav Zas secretary general of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), the state news agency BelTA reported on Friday.

"Lukashenko has officially endorsed Stanislav Zas' appointment by signing a relevant draft decision of the CSTO Collective Security Council," BelTA said.

Lukashenko held a working meeting with Zas on Friday.

Zas reported on his meetings with the heads of CSTO member states, who will vote on his candidacy for the position of secretary general. Lukashenko proposed that form of appointment at a meeting of CSTO leaders.

Zas has already visited Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Russia. The heads of those states endorsed him.

"I said earlier that there should not be only one candidate for Belarus. But I settled on Zas' suggestion to set, if I may say so, an example, that it's time we in this organization switched from formal appointment of former, retired generals - I'm not saying anything negative about them - to active, young, and up-and-coming generals to give prominence to the organization," BelTA cited Lukashenko as saying.

"Moreover, we were appointing retired generals who got out of military service, out of politics, long ago, but this is, after all, a military-political organization," he said.

Lukashenko said he hopes that other CSTO members will adhere to this practice in the future when appointing their representatives to the post of secretary general.

"And, naturally, this meets our criteria for personnel training and appointment: professionalism and loving what you do," Lukashenko said.

The position of secretary general became vacant after Armenia recalled its representative, Yury Khachaturov, halfway into his three-year tenure. Russia's Valery Semerikov, the deputy secretary general, was appointed acting secretary general.

In July, a court in Yerevan decided to arrest Khachaturov on counts of attempting to overthrow the constitutional system of Armenia in 2008 and then released him on bail.

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev said after a session of the CSTO Collective Security Council in early November that according to the charter, the next secretary general should be from Belarus.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said that a representative of his country would be the next secretary general.

Yerevan insists that a representative of Armenia should head the organization until 2020. However, some CSTO members have already expressed support for Zas.

The CSTO includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan.