Rahim Rahimov writes for Jamestown Foundation: During the latest session of the Council of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), on July 1, in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, the participants effectively introduced the category of a CSTO “partner state” by setting the criteria and provisions for granting such a status to a third country (Paodkb.org, Duma.gov.ru, July 1). The speaker of the Russian State Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin, declared that a number of states have already expressed interest in becoming a “partner” of the alliance. And the head of the Duma Committee on Eurasian Integration, Leonid Kalashnikov, specified inter alia Azerbaijan as a potential partner state, before backtracking slightly: “It is not customary to talk about that, though” (RIA Novosti, July 1). In May, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko said that the “doors of the CSTO are open” to Azerbaijan, with the major obstacle being the absence of diplomatic relations with Armenia, a member of the organization (Izvestia, May 24).
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