Last week, the UN Security Council hosted debate on the contribution of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, Commonwealth of Independent States and Shanghai Cooperation Organization in countering terrorist threats.
The meeting, chaired by Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, was attended by foreign ministers of a number of members of these organizations, including Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.
In addition, heads of international organizations and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addressed the Security Council.
It is noteworthy that, despite the wide geographical span of the three alliances mentioned above, Central Asia and Afghanistan were increasingly figured in the speakers’ statements.
We have been hearing for 25 years that Central Asia will explode, regional media quoted Uzbek foreign minister AbdulazizKamilov as saying.
“When it comes to the problem of terrorism, the region of Central Asia is necessarily mentioned. We would not want the international community to have a firm opinion about this region of Central Asia is a space with a huge potential for terrorism and extremism”, Kamilov stressed.
“Over the past three years, we have managed to resolve very complex issues of delimitation of state borders, water resources management, development of transport communications and establish a high level of cooperation in the field of security,” he added, noting that Central Asia has sufficient potential to ensure its own security.
According to him, Afghanistan is considered by Uzbekistan as a country with ample emerging opportunities, rather than challenge and a source of terrorism and extremism.
Transport and communication projects that can potentially connect Europe through Central Asia and Afghanistan with South Asia, can yield huge benefits for the reconstruction of the Afghan economy, said Kamilov.
Secretary General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Vladimir Norov named the early settlement of the conflict in Afghanistan as one of the main factors for strengthening security and stability in the region.
To solve this problem, the SCO has intensified the dialogue through the SCO-Afghanistan Contact group at the level of deputy foreign ministers.
“The Roadmap of further actions of the Contact group adopted at the SCO summit in Bishkek is aimed at supporting joint work to restore peace and economic development of this country, the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking,” recalled Norov.
Also in this context, he underlined the importance of the Moscow consultations, the Tashkent initiative and the ministerial meeting of the 8th Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan to be held in Uzbekistan before the end of this year.
Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov also touched upon the Afghan issue in his speech. “The CSTO and the SCO focus on threats emanating from Afghanistan, including threats to Central Asia. The north of Afghanistan could become a new bridgehead of ISIS-led international terrorist organisations.
Afghanistan certainly requires external assistance in overcoming these threats and challenges,” Lavrov stressed.
The experience of the past few years has made it clear that not a single plan on developing economic cooperation between Central Asia and Afghanistan can be carried out without an adequate response to threats coming from Afghanistan, he added.
“We face an unprecedented threat from intolerance, violent extremism and terrorism. It affects every country, exacerbating conflicts and destabilizing entire regions, and it is constantly evolving”, the UN Secretary General said.
According to Guterres, pursuing and dismantling terrorist groups is vital, but it is just one among many measures. “We must complement security measures with prevention efforts that identify and address root causes, while always respecting human rights”, he added.
Providing young people with access to education and jobs, comprehensive and inclusive approaches in the family and communities, gender equality, involvement of civil society and the private sector – all these measures can take a key place in international efforts to prevent and combat terrorism.
Guterres noted that the three organizations – the subject of debate – are playing an important role in promoting regional counter-terrorism cooperation by facilitating the exchange of critical information and knowledge, and the implementation of joint investigations and operations. The work of the UN Regional Centre for preventive diplomacy for Central Asia in the implementation of the Joint action plan in the field of counter-terrorism was also highlighted.
“Central Asia was among the first regions who adopted the regional Joint Action Plan for implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, prepared with EU funding. This confirms that Central Asian countries share a common will to cooperate in tackling the threat, based on the UN principles and approach,” said Peter Burian, EU Special Representative for Central Asia.
Burian recalled the recent conferences in Dushanbe (May 2019) and Ashgabat (April 2019), supported by the EU, along with the UN and OSCE, as examples of promoting regional cooperation to address terrorism and its financing.
“It is essential to address prevention of radicalisation and focus on the root causes of terrorism. De-radicalisation, rehabilitation and reintegration must be dealt as a package, to prevent further spread of terrorist ideology”, said Burian reaffirming the EU’s willingness to share its best practices and lessons learned with its partners. /// nCa, 2 October 2019