On 27 January 2022, the first India-Central Asia Summit took place in online format under the chairmanship of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The summit was attended by Presidents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. This high-level event was timed to the 30th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Central Asian countries.
During his opening remarks Prime Minister Modi said: “Kazakhstan has become a vital partner for India’s energy security. I express my condolences for the recent loss of life and property in Kazakhstan. Our state governments are also active partners in our growing cooperation with Uzbekistan. This includes my home state of Gujarat as well.
We have an active partnership with Kyrgyzstan in the field of education and high-altitude research. Thousands of Indian students are studying there.
With Tajikistan, we have a longstanding cooperation in the field of security. And we are continuously strengthening it.
Turkmenistan is an important part of Indian vision in the field of regional connectivity, which is evident from our participation in the Ashgabat Agreement.”
One of the key outcomes of the summit became the decision to institutionalize the summit mechanism as a biennial event. The leaders also agreed on regular meetings of Foreign Ministers, Trade Ministers, Culture Ministers and Secretaries of the Security Council to prepare the groundwork for the Summit meetings.
“India – Central Asia Centre” will be set up in New Delhi and will act as the Secretariat for the India – Central Asia Summit.
Moreover, some proposals have been agreed with the aim to enhance cooperation in areas of trade and connectivity, development cooperation, defense and security, people to people contacts. They include:
- Proposal on creation of an ‘India-Central Asia Parliamentary Forum’.
- Round-Table on Energy and Connectivity;
- Joint Working Groups at senior official level on Afghanistan and use of Chabahar Port;
- Holding Buddhist exhibitions in Central Asian countries and commissioning of an India-Central Asia dictionary of common words;
- Joint counter-terrorism exercises;
- visit of 100 member youth delegation annually from Central Asia India;
- Special courses for Central Asian diplomats.
The situation in Afghanistan was raised during the summit. The leaders reiterated their strong support for a peaceful, secure and stable Afghanistan with a truly representative and inclusive government. They also decided to continue to provide immediate humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan.
The Delhi Declaration was adopted at the end of the summit. The document embraces the common vision for comprehensive India-Central Asia partnership.
President of Turkmenistan proposed to create an energy bridge Central Asia – India
In his speech, Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov emphasized that cooperation between Central Asian and Indian countries is intended to ensure accelerated economic growth and the development of an efficient transportation, energy, and technological system.
The current level of trade and investment between India and the countries of the region is far from realizing its true potential, and together we have to improve this situation, President Berdimuhamedov noted.
He pointed out the need to brisk up the activities of the Central Asia–India Business Council.
The head of Turkmenistan called energy as an important area of joint efforts. The Central Asian states, rich in natural resources, are now able to work seriously on building an energy bridge “Central Asia – India”, he said.
Turkmenistan is currently implementing a large-scale energy project in cooperation with its partners – the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline. Everyone knows its huge geo-economic and geopolitical significance for the entire Eurasian continent, the Turkmen leader added.
He stated that the Turkmen side is willing to discuss cooperation opportunities with Indian colleagues in the electric power sector as well.
Referring to transport, President Berdymuhamedov noted that it is, first of all, about the creation of Eurasian transport corridors through Central Asia to marine terminals in the Indian Ocean.
Turkmenistan, as a country providing the only shortest route from this region to the Persian Gulf and from there to India, attaches priority importance to this direction.
The Uzbekistan-Turkmenistan-Iran-Oman-Qatar transport corridor is also of great significance. India has officially joined this project, which opens up more opportunities for its participants.
Turkmenistan supports India’s proposals on the inclusion of the Chabahar port into the International North-South Transport Corridor and on the establishment of an appropriate Joint Working Group, stressed Turkmen president.
He also proposed to include the Caspian port of Turkmenbashi within the framework of INSTC.
Delhi Declaration of the 1st India-Central Asia Summit
January 27, 2022
At the initiative of the Prime Minister of the Republic of India Shri Narendra Modi, the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan H.E. Mr. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the President of the Kyrgyz Republic H.E. Mr. Sadyr Japarov, the President of the Republic of Tajikistan H.E. Mr. Emomali Rahmon, the President of Turkmenistan H.E. Mr. Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan H.E. Mr. Shavkat Mirziyoyev attended the first India-Central Asia Summit on 27 January 2022 in virtual format. The Summit came at an opportune time coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Central Asian countries.
- Prime Minister of India congratulated the Leaders of Central Asian countries on 30th anniversary of their State independence. The Leaders of Central Asian countries congratulated the Prime Minister of India on 75 years of India’s independence. The Sides agreed to organization of activities including issuance of joint postal stamps to mark the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the countries of Central Asia and India.
- Recalling the centuries-old close civilizational, cultural, trade and people-to-people linkages between India and Central Asian countries, the Leaders looked forward to building a long term, comprehensive, and enduring India-Central Asia partnership based on mutual trust, understanding and friendship.
- The Leaders welcomed the holding of the first India – Central Asia Summit and agreed to hold it every two years. Apart from the India – Central Asia Dialogue mechanism at Foreign Ministers level, they agreed that the Ministers of Trade and Culture would meet at regular intervals to take forward cooperation in these areas. They also agreed to continue regular meetings of Secretaries of the Security Council to discuss security developments in the region. The Central Asian Leaders welcomed the offer of India to establish an “India – Central Asia Centre” in New Delhi which could act as the Secretariat for the India – Central Asia Summit.
- The Leaders valued the cooperation between the Parliaments of India and the Central Asian countries as an important forum of interaction between the legislatures of these countries and noted the relevance of the proposal to create an ‘India-Central Asia Parliamentary Forum’.
- The Leaders expressed solidarity with those who have been negatively affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and called for collective efforts in the fight against the pandemic. They stressed the importance of extensive vaccination, vaccine supply, transfer of technology, development of local production capacities, promotion of supply chains for medical products, and ensuring price transparency. The Sides expressed mutual gratitude to each other for timely assistance during the pandemic and agreed that early mutual recognition of Covid vaccination certificates will facilitate easier travel of citizens of their countries.
- Noting the growing interdependence of countries in an inter-connected world, the Leaders called for a timely, transparent, effective and non-discriminatory international response to global health challenges including pandemics, for ensuring an equitable and affordable access to medicines and critical health supplies. They took note of the approach – “One Earth One Health” presented by the Prime Minister of India. They emphasized that the post-pandemic world requires diversified global supply chains that are based on trust, resilience and reliability.
- Considering the important role of transport for restoring normal living conditions and unhindered mobility, including ensuring the swift delivery of medical supplies, the Leaders took note of the adoption, at the initiative of Turkmenistan, of the UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/75/313 on “Strengthening the links between all modes of transport to ensure stable and reliable international transport for sustainable development during and after the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic”.
- Prime Minister of India outlined his principle of “Support of All, Development for All, Trust of All, Efforts of All” for regional development, peace and prosperity. The Leaders agreed that global development should be human-centric to ensure that no one is left behind. In this context, the Leaders supported a more collaborative and inclusive global progress and development.
- The Leaders welcomed the signing of MoUs for implementation of High Impact Community Development Projects (HICDPs) for socio-economic development in Central Asian countries, based on grant assistance by India. They also welcomed the projects approved for implementation and looked forward to expeditious identification and implementation of more projects under this mechanism. They noted the ongoing discussions with regard to utilization of US$ 1 bn Line of Credit announced by India in 2020 for infrastructure development projects in Central Asian countries and mandated their senior officials to make efforts for early progress in this regard.
- The Leaders of Central Asian countries highly assessed the significant role of the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Programme and the scholarships offered by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) in capacity building and human resource development of their countries. They also welcomed India’s proposal to organize customized professional training programmes for diplomats from the Central Asian countries at the Sushma Swaraj Institute of Foreign Service in New Delhi. The Indian side offered to provide more training slots and scholarships including customized training programmes to meet the requirements of Central Asian countries.
- The Leaders noted that the current level of trade and investments between India and Central Asian countries is far from realizing its true potential and stressed on the importance of making concerted efforts to boost trade and investment in sectors like medicine, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, education, information technology, business process outsourcing (BPO), infrastructure, agriculture and processing of agricultural products, energy, space industry, textiles, leather and footwear industry, gems & jewellery etc. They welcomed the development of direct contacts between the States of India and the Regions of Central Asian countries, including through establishment of partnership arrangements between them. The Leaders directed their respective Ministers to prepare a Roadmap for enhancing mutual trade volume and industrial cooperation between India and the Central Asian countries.
- The Sides encouraged the India-Central Asia Business Council (ICABC) to accelerate their efforts to promote business linkages, facilitate greater understanding of business regulations and incentivize mutual investments. They took note of the proposal to create an India-Central Asia Investment Club under ICABC to promote investment opportunities in each other’s countries.
- The Leaders noted that further development of mutual connectivity is essential for enhanced trade and commerce between India and Central Asian countries in the context of their land-locked nature and lack of overland connectivity with India. The Leaders emphasized that connectivity projects deserve priority attention and could be a force-multiplier for trade and economic cooperation and contacts between countries and people. India and the Central Asian member countries of the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) as well as the Ashgabat Agreement on International Transport and Transit Corridor called upon the other Central Asian countries to consider joining these connectivity initiatives. The sides supported India’s proposal to include the Chabahar Port and noted Turkmenistan’s proposal to include the Turkmenbashi Port within the framework of INSTC. The Sides agreed that connectivity initiatives should be based on the principles of transparency, broad participation, local priorities, financial sustainability and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries. In this regard, the Leaders noted the results of the High-Level International Conference “Central and South Asia: Regional Connectivity. Challenges and Opportunities”, held on July 15-16, 2021 in the city of Tashkent, which provided a unique opportunity to openly discuss the entire range of topical development issues and strengthen regional interconnection between the countries of Central and South Asia. In this context, they noted the initiative of Uzbekistan to adopt a special resolution of the UN General Assembly on strengthening the connectivity between Central and South Asia. They also noted Turkmenistan’s proposal to organize, in cooperation with the UN, the International Ministerial Transport Conference for Landlocked Developing Countries, to be held in Turkmenistan in April 2022.
- The Leaders noted the need for continued large-scale and long-term economic cooperation between Central Asian countries and India in order to strengthen and expand inter-connectivity. In this context, the President of Turkmenistan stressed on the importance of TAPI gas pipeline project.
- The Indian side welcomed the interest of Central Asian countries to utilize the services of Shahid Beheshti Terminal at Chabahar Port for facilitating their trade with India and other external markets. The Sides agreed to continue engagement for further developing the transit and transport potential of their countries, improving the logistics network of the region and promoting joint initiatives to create regional and international transport corridors. The Central Asian countries welcomed the proposal of India to establish a Joint Working Group on Chabahar Port to address issues of free movements of goods and services between India and Central Asian countries.
- The Leaders paid special attention to the need to establish cooperation between specialized national institutions, including in the fields of finance, renewable energy, information, digital and other advanced technologies. In this context, they welcomed the proposal for establishment of an “IT/ITES Task Force” between the IT organizations, IT parks and IT companies of India and the Central Asian countries to work towards greater digitalization and E-Governance in their countries, as well as business process outsourcing (BPO) by sharing of best practices, knowledge etc.
- The Sides reiterated the need for a comprehensive approach to development and security of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), including technical progress, business development, safeguarding the security of States and public interests, and respecting the right to privacy of individuals. They noted that as a transformative enabler bridging Governments and societies, technology should be used responsibly with trust and transparency for application in a human-centric manner.
- The Leaders expressed their interest to deepen cooperation in the health-care sector. The Sides noted the importance of practical implementation of joint projects and initiatives in the health sector that provide easy and timely access to proper diagnostic and quality medical treatment facilities for their citizens according to their legislation. In this context, the leading hospital chains of India are invited to consider opening branches of their multi-specialty hospitals and diagnostic clinics in Central Asian countries.
- The Leaders emphasized on harnessing the tourism potential that exists in their countries and underlined the need for increasing tourist arrivals, including for pilgrimage as well as historical and cultural tourism, creating tourism trails across the region, encouraging investment in tourism infrastructure and organizing regular tourism conferences and seminars etc. In this context, the Leaders noted the holding of the 25th session of the General Assembly of the World Tourism Organization in 2023 in Samarkand. The Central Asian countries invited the Indian film industry to explore and use the picturesque countryside locations in their countries for film shootings.
- The Leaders emphasized deepening of cooperation in the education sector including the need to develop direct contacts between higher educational institutions of India and Central Asian countries. The Central Asian Leaders acknowledged the interest of Indian educational institutions to set up campuses in their countries. In this regard, the setting up of campuses by Sharda, Amity and Sambhram Universities in Uzbekistan was specifically highlighted by the President of Uzbekistan. Prime Minister of India conveyed his gratitude to Central Asian Leaders for ensuring the welfare of Indian students in their countries. The Central Asian Leaders welcomed India’s proposal to host a 100-member youth delegation from the Central Asian countries every year to promote greater mutual understanding.
- The Sides, recalling the age-old cultural and civilizational links between India and Central Asian countries, laid special emphasis on promoting cultural cooperation for better appreciation of each other’s culture. They lauded the role played by the Indian Cultural Centres in strengthening the common bonds underpinning the cultural connect between India and Central Asian countries. The Sides agreed to give greater attention to all facets of cultural cooperation – hosting regular Film Festivals, cooperation between museums, translation of literary work, digitization of manuscripts, restoration work related to cultural heritage, etc. Given the commonality of words used in India and the Central Asian countries, the Indian side proposed to commission a ‘Dictionary of Common words used in India and Central Asian countries’ and showcasing of a Buddhist exhibition in the Central Asian Countries.
- The Sides acknowledged that defence cooperation constitutes an important pillar between India and concerned Central Asian countries. The Presidents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan expressed satisfaction over regular bilateral military counter-terrorism exercises with India. They also agreed to consider holding of joint counter-terrorism exercises between India and interested Central Asian countries. The President of Kazakhstan expressed gratitude to Prime Minister of India for continued co-deployment of Kazakh troops within the Indian battalion in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
- The Leaders underscored the importance of regular dialogue between the Security Councils of their countries in view of the common challenges of terrorism, extremism and radicalization in the region. They expressed satisfaction at regular meetings and Security dialogues held between their Security Councils, in particular, during 2021. They welcomed the outcomes of the ‘Delhi Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan’ held on 10 November 2021.
- The Leaders condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and reiterated that providing support, using terrorist proxies for cross-border terrorism, terror financing, arms and drugs trafficking, dissemination of a radical ideology and abuse of cyber space to spread disinformation and incite violence, goes against the basic principles of humanity and international relations. They agreed that terrorism must be comprehensively countered to achieve a “World free of Terror.” The Central Asian Leaders stressed the importance of further universalization of the Code of Conduct towards Achieving a World Free of Terrorism, which for the first time acknowledged the interconnection between security, combating terrorism and development, thus facilitating the advancement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
- The Leaders called for early adoption of the UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism. They called on the international community to strengthen UN-led global counter-terrorism cooperation and fully implement the relevant UNSC resolutions, Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and FATF standards. In this regard, the Leaders noted the proposal of Tajikistan to hold an International Conference within the framework of “Dushanbe Process on countering the financing of terrorism” in October 2022 in Dushanbe.
- The Leaders discussed the current situation in Afghanistan and its impact on the security and stability of the region. They reiterated strong support for a peaceful, secure and stable Afghanistan while emphasizing the respect for sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity and non-interference in its internal affairs. They also discussed the current humanitarian situation and decided to continue to provide immediate humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan. The Leaders reaffirmed the importance of UNSC Resolution 2593 (2021) which unequivocally demands that Afghan territory not be used for sheltering, training, planning or financing terrorist acts and called for concerted action against all terrorist groups, including those sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). They also agreed to continue close consultations on the situation in Afghanistan. In this context they decided for establishment of a Joint Working Group on Afghanistan at Senior Officials Level. They noted that there is a broad ‘regional consensus’ on the issues related to Afghanistan, which includes formation of a truly representative and inclusive government, combating terrorism and drug trafficking, central role of the UN, providing immediate humanitarian assistance for the people of Afghanistan and preserving the rights of women, children and other national ethnic groups and minorities. In this regard, the Leaders noted the initiative of Uzbekistan to hold a High-Level International Conference on Afghanistan under the auspices of the SCO in July 2022 in Tashkent.
- The Sides expressed satisfaction at their cooperation in the UN and other multilateral fora. They agreed to continue their broad support to each other in the UN and other international organizations including for candidatures to various UN and multilateral bodies. The Leaders of Central Asian countries reiterated support for permanent membership of India in an expanded and reformed UN Security Council. They appreciated the initiatives undertaken during India’s August 2021 Presidency of UNSC and welcomed the ongoing tenure of India in the UNSC and its priorities.
- The Sides affirmed their commitment to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in its three dimensions – economic, social and environmental in a balanced and integrated manner – and reiterated that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are integrated and indivisible and must be achieved. They called upon the international community to foster a more equitable and balanced global development partnership to accelerate the implementation of 2030 Agenda while giving special attention to the difficulties and needs of the developing countries. In this context, the President of Turkmenistan stressed the importance of joint international efforts to strengthen peace and promote sustainable development and mentioned the initiative of Turkmenistan to develop a draft resolution of the UN General Assembly on “Strengthening regional and international cooperation to ensure peace, stability and sustainable development in the Central Asian region”. The President of Uzbekistan emphasized on the need to identify the issue of eliminating poverty and combating poverty as one of the main topics of the next session of the UN General Assembly, as well as the importance of holding a Global Summit dedicated to this problem. The leaders took note of the initiative of Tajikistan to convene the Second High-Level International Conference on the International Decade for Action “Water for Sustainable Development”, 2018-2028 from 6-9 June 2022 in Dushanbe that will be part of the preparatory process for the UN Conference on the Midterm Comprehensive Review of the Implementation of the Objectives of the Water Decade in 2023 in New York. The Leaders noted the initiative of the Kazakhstan to institutionalize the UN Centre on SDGs for Central Asia and Afghanistan.
- The Leaders emphasized on the importance of protecting the environment, conserving biodiversity and ecosystems, as well as combating climate change for the well-being and prosperity of the present and future generations. They called for climate justice by implementation of the Paris Agreement adopted under the principles of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), including the principle of Equity, Common But Differentiated Responsibilities, the criticality of adequate finance and technology flows, judicious use of resources and the need for sustainable lifestyles. They welcomed the outcomes of the 26th Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-26). Given the linkage of water and climate, the Leaders took note of the initiative of the President of Tajikistan to proclaim 2025 as the International Year for Glaciers and setting a date for World Glaciers Day. The Leaders noted the initiative of the Kyrgyz Republic in the field of climate change and advancing the interests of mountainous countries, including the joint implementation of the United Nations General Assembly Resolution proclaiming 2022 as the International Year of Sustainable Mountain Development. They welcomed the respective contributions aimed at securing the environmental sustainability through global comprehensive efforts.
- The Central Asian Leaders took note of Indian initiative of “One Sun One World One Grid” that aims at fostering inter-connected solar energy infrastructure at global scale. The Indian side highlighted the role of ‘International Solar Alliance (ISA)’ initiative in collective, rapid and massive deployment of solar energy for effective implementation of the Paris Agreement. The Indian side also underlined the role of “Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI)” in promoting disaster resilient infrastructure for reducing economic losses and improving the well-being of communities in the face of calamities. India looked forward to Central Asian countries joining the ISA and CDRI. The Leaders took note of the initiative of Turkmenistan to develop a UN Strategy focused on measures to develop low-carbon energy, as well as to create, under the auspices of the UN, an international “Roadmap” for the development of hydrogen as one of the priority areas in the energy sector.
- The Leaders of India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan underlined the constructive role played by SCO in securing peace and sustainable development, advancing regional cooperation and consolidating ties of good-neighbourliness and mutual trust. They emphasized the importance of further strengthening the Organization’s potential with a view to promote political, security, economic cooperation and people-to-people exchanges. They commended the significant outcomes of the jubilee SCO Summit in 2021 in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, and expressed full support to Uzbekistan for its ongoing Chairmanship of SCO.
- The Leaders of India and other Central Asian countries conveyed their support to Kazakhstan for its current Chairmanship of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) and organization of the 6th CICA Summit in 2022 in its 30th anniversary year. They stressed the importance of further development of the CICA and expressed their intention to work together towards its transformation into an international organization with a view to strengthen dialogue, peace and cooperation in Asia.
- The Leaders noted the importance of the outcome of the International Conference “Peace and Trust Policy – Basis of International Security, Stability and Development”, held on December 11, 2021 in Ashgabat. The President of Turkmenistan underlined that the initiative of the President of Turkmenistan “Dialogue – guarantee of peace” and other proposals expressed during this Forum are needed to be practically implemented within the framework of international organizations.
- The Leaders took note of the initiative of the President of Kazakhstan to create a Network of Regional Centers for Disease Control and Biosafety under the UN auspices and a specialized multilateral agency – the International Agency for Biological Safety (IABS).
- The Leaders of Central Asian countries expressed their gratitude to the Prime Minister of India for the successful organization of the first India-Central Asia Summit. The Leaders agreed to hold the next meeting of the India-Central Asia Summit in 2024. /// nCa, 28 January 2022