On 13 July, the first day of the Central Asian Forum on Security and Cooperation “Asia in the Changing World: Agenda for the Future” wrapped up in Astana. The new dialogue platform brings together experts from leading research centers of the world, Central Asian countries, international and regional organizations. The Forum is held jointly by the Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies under the President of the Republic of (KazISS) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan.
The event was inaugurated by the Director of the KazISS Yerkin Tukumov. In his speech, he noted the rapid economic and technological progress of Asia, the growing geopolitical importance of Asia in the world and the importance of holding the forum in the current realities.
According to him, this meeting provides a unique opportunity to discuss topical issues on the agenda of Asian countries and Kazakhstan as well. The peculiarity of the forum is its broad expert representativeness. This is a platform for dialogue between the “think tanks” of the countries of the Asian continent, working closely with decision-making centers, which determines the practical focus of the forum.
The leading experts and intellectuals from 25 countries of the world attend the forum. According to the head of KazISS, they gathered for one purpose: promote the deepening of regional cooperation, exchange information and ideas on the transformation of the world order, as well as jointly seek new solutions to the most serious security challenges in Asia.
Deputy Prime Minister – Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Murat Nurtleu, during his remakrs, highlighted specific areas related to security and requiring special attention in Central Asia.
“I would like to highlight several specific issues that require close attention for the future development of Central Asia. These are water shortages, the environment, the border dispute and the situation in Afghanistan. The fair and rational distribution of water resources has become a serious problem in times of population growth and water scarcity. For this reason, Kazakhstan proposes to create a regional hydropower consortium. At the same time, our country is engaged in the restoration of the Aral Sea through International Funds that we set together with our partners in Central Asia in the early 1990s,” the Minister said (Kazinform, July 13).
Speaking about border issues, Nurtleu stressed that Kazakhstan has signed border agreements with all neighbors and is ready to share its experience.
“Ensuring security in Central Asia means establishing peace and stability in Afghanistan. In our opinion, Afghanistan needs international support to coordinate UN actions. The establishment of peace in Afghanistan will directly affect stability not only in Central Asia, but also in Asia and Europe as a whole. To this end, we recommend Kazakhstan to create a UN hub for the sustainable development of Central Asia and Afghanistan in Almaty,” the Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan emphasized.
In general, Kazakhstan supports close cooperation in the fields of security, trade, investment, transport, logistics, energy, industrialization, technological development, water resources management, ecology, culture and education.
Nurtleu stressed that Kazakhstan is focused on the development of existing corridors and the opening of new routes with the aim to increase cargo flows through the Central Asia.
“Kazakhstan is willing to turn Central Asia into a transport and logistics hub. We support and continue the development of the transcontinental transport corridor in the north-south and east-west directions, including the Trans-Caspian transport route,” the minister said.
Representatives of major international organizations shared their vision on Central Asia’s place and role in the modern architecture of security cooperation.
Thus, UN Deputy Secretary-General, Head of the Counter-Terrorism Directorate Vladimir Voronkov said: “The Central Asian countries have made tremendous progress over the past twenty years in strengthening their regional cooperation and interaction with international partners to develop their economies and societies and solve common problems, including terrorism. The United Nations is grateful for these efforts, and you can count on our continued support in ensuring peace, universal prosperity and human rights.”
Natalia Gherman, Assistant Secretary General, Executive Director of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), noted Operation Zhusan: “Kazakhstan was the first in the region to respond to this call and showed its leadership in returning its citizens from conflict zones, especially women and children. Other Central Asian states followed. The Central Asian States continue to demonstrate a strong political will to work together to combat terrorism at the regional level.”
The idea of the importance of medium and small countries was expressed by Kairat Sarybai, Secretary General of the CICA. According to him, the dismantling of the bipolar world has dramatically increased the potential of medium and small countries, which realized that they can play a significant role in global and regional affairs if they join their efforts. Today, this process is observed all over the globe, but it is in Asia that it is most noticeable.
“Central Asia, without exaggeration, is the heart of the CICA. It is enough to look at the map to see that the entire perimeter of the Central Asian region is surrounded by CICA member states. At the same time, of the five Central Asian states, four are members of the CICA, and one – Turkmenistan – has observer status. Given these facts, it is possible to understand what a special role is assigned to the CICA in Central Asia, and on the other hand, as well as the keen interest that the countries of the region have in the CICA’s successful activities,” he said.
Terhi Hakala, the EU Special Representative for Central Asia, shared her assessment of the regional development: “Dialogue and exchange are important in our world, and we need opportunities to exchange views, explain, listen to each other and understand each other’s points of view. This is true in general, but especially in the current geopolitical situation. Nowadays, the very concept of security is changing and expanding. These days, the noun “security” comes with a number of adjectives: we hear about energy and climate, food, cybersecurity, etc. Economic security is one of the key nouns in this context.”
The experts agreed that the successful realization of the plans and projects requires the involvement of both the political, expert, and civil society. Today, the forum will continue its work. ///nCa, 14 July 2023 (based on KazISS press releases) [photo credit – KazISS]
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