Asia is getting traction. The time has come to launch international mechanisms that had previously been constructed and governed for nearly 30 years, in order to consolidate them into a single structure – clear, stable and running smoothly. Considering the fact that the world situation is now in dire need of this.
These meetings on the sidelines…
Kazakhstan, an active and ambitious post-Soviet country among the region’s economic and political leaders, served as the key negotiating platform for the launching of the mentioned mechanism this week. The heads of 11 states and representatives of the governments of fifteen nations gathered in the Kazakhstan capital for the 30th anniversary of the 6th Summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-building Measures in Asia (CICA).
The site was not chosen by chance, since 2014, the headquarters of the CICA is located in Astana. It should be added that Kazakhstan constantly adheres to the policy of persistent neutrality, and has no political, economic, or territorial contradictions with the participating countries. This allows the country to welcome delegates from conflicting countries such as India and Pakistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, and Azerbaijan and Armenia.
The first contacts took place on Wednesday. President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev warmly welcomed the Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, who invited him to the World Cup. Then Tokayev competed in table tennis with Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan and accepted an invitation to visit Singapore on behalf of the President Halima Jacob, conveyed by Prime Minister Mohamad Maliki bin Osman.
However, many experts believe that it is important to pay attention on the so-called “meetings on the sidelines of the summit” during such gatherings. The most essential documents are completed and critical issues are discussed there. Within the framework of such meetings, Tokayev and Erdogan discussed issues of foreign policy, investment, trade and economic cooperation, logistics, military industry, energy and agriculture, that is, the most topical and modern topics. A number of agreements were signed there. Both parties made no secret of their desire to increase their bilateral trade turnover to US $ 10 billion. There are all the possibilities for this now.
“Our countries are interested in increasing the volume of traffic on the Trans–Caspian International Transport Route. This strategic project is of great importance for maintaining stability in the region. May our unity and cooperation be eternal!”, it was noted after the meeting.
Kassym-Jomart Tokayev also had a conversation “on the sidelines” with Vietnam Vice President Vo Thi An Xuan, Vice President of the People’s Republic of China Wang Qishan and other officials. A trilateral meeting of the President Sadyr Zhaparov of Kyrgyzstan, President Vladimir Putin of Russia, President Emomali Rahmon of Tajikistan was also held there.
Asia is at the helm!
However, the “front” part of the CICA also brought a lot of surprises. For the first time in many years, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said something that supporters of the Western world had not dared to say.
“The forecast that the XXI century will be the century of Asia has become a reality today. Asia has become a recognized world economic leader in nominal GDP and purchasing power parity. The region has significant human and natural resources. 21 of the 30 largest cities in the world are located in Asia. Only US $1 trillion of the estimated US $30 trillion increase in middle-class consumption by 2030 is expected to fall on Western economies,” the Kazakhstan leader said.
Only one thing is required to transform Asia from a diverse group of regional players into a true economic and political force on a global scale and that is consolidation.
“The future of Asia itself depends on our collective readiness to strengthen the dialogue between cultures, traditions and worldviews,” Tokayev stressed.
To this end, Astana has proposed a variety of practical initiatives, including the formation of the CICA Council on Sustainable Connectivity. This will allow to bridge the recent gaps in transportation and logistics transit corridors, as well as the creation of an efficient commodities supply system.
“Convenient and affordable routes of cargo transportation are an important factor in the sustainable growth of our economies”, Tokayev explained.
The Kazakhstan leader proposed to transform the CICA Financial Summit initiated by the People’s Republic of China into a permanent platform. These and other solutions will enable setting up a really working mechanism for ensuring food security in the CICA space, which is now extremely necessary in the world. In fact, these will be “green corridors” between the CICA member states for the foodstuffs category of goods.
“Asia produces two-thirds of the world’s agricultural products, but still remains vulnerable in this area”, Tokayev said.
In addition to economic issues, the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan called the issues of ecology and human capital important and requiring solutions.
“Economic measures can be considered effective only if they are focused on the human dimension, conservation and development of human resources,” he said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed support for the “Asian course”.
“Like many of our Asian partners, we believe that it is necessary to start a revision of the operating principles of the global financial system, which for decades allowed the self-proclaimed “golden billion,” which has been using capital and technology flows to its sole advantage, to largely live at others’ expense”, said the leader of the Russian Federation.
The natural result of the summit was a general resolution defining the further course of development of the organization. And its first point is aimed at transforming the CICA from an advisory body into a full-fledged regional international organization.
“We also envision our organization as contributing to dynamic, equitable, comprehensive and balanced economic growth, connectivity, social and cultural development of its Member States. We will strengthen our collective work within our organization in order to seek joint solutions for our common challenges of the twenty first century towards a secure and prosperous region and to pursue peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with the UN Charter”, the resolution says.
The updated CICA intends to cooperate on a mutually beneficial level, both between the participating states and with other countries, organizations and forums.
The anniversary summit of the CICA really turned out to be a breakthrough. Summarizing what has been said, we can conclude that we now present at a historical event. We are witnessing how a modest dialogue platform is gradually turning into a full-fledged regional international association, which, later, albeit not immediately, but has the opportunity to become an Asian Union, like the European one.
Despite differences in interests, political and territorial issues, the participating states are gradually moving away from words and speeches toward actions that can have a significant impact on the global situation. And the initiator of this process is largely Kazakhstan, which has a rich experience of integration.
“I want to emphasize that we are not creating a new organization, but are moving to a new stage of institutional development. Raising the status of the gathering will foster the increasing role of Asia in world affairs and bring the interaction of member states to a new level”, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev summed up the summit.
These are words worth hearing. And to recognize that the new organization has every chance to get the status of a serious heavyweight in the world community in the face of United Asia. ///nCa, 24 October 2022