Photo: Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov addressing a conference on central Asia under UN auspices. Credit: The Astana Times. - Photo: 2017

Kazakhstan Committed to Sustainable Development and Mutual Prosperity in Central Asia

By J Nastranis

NEW YORK (IDN) – In the run-up to Kazakhstan assuming the UN Security Council’s rotating presidency for January 2018, Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov has accentuated that the Central Asian country stands for the creation of a model of a regional zone of peace, security and cooperation in Central Asia and Afghanistan.

Kazakhstan is a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2017-2018, and it chairs the Council’s Committees 1988 on the Taliban movement and 1267 on ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida.

“Since gaining independence more than 25 years ago, President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev has been actively promoting the policy of regional integration that takes into account the interests and expectations of all the states of the region. Today, this process receives a new impetus, as we observe a surge of regional contacts at all levels,” Abdrakhmanov said.

He was referring to the decision of Foreign Ministers of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to sign on November 10 in the ancient city of Samarkand, in modern-day Uzbekistan, a programme of cooperation between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of five Central Asian States. Abdrakhmanov welcomed the 2018-2019 programme to hold regular meetings of Central Asian leaders.

The cooperation is intended to expand contacts and coordination between the foreign ministries. Central Asian foreign ministers agreed to cooperate on international issues and within international and regional organizations.

Such an idea was voiced by Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev as he opened the conference. Abdrakhmanov said President Nazarbayev was considering inviting his colleagues to Astana for such a meeting during the Nauryz celebrations.

Nauryz is an important holiday for Kazakhs. It marks the beginning of a new year. It is celebrated over many days starting from March 21, the day of the spring equinox. Meaning ‘new day’, Nauryz is celebrated in the Great Steppes from ancient times.

The five Foreign Ministers met on the margins of several events taking place in the ancient city simultaneously, including the European Union-Central Asia ministerial meeting and an international conference on security and sustainable development in Central Asia under UN auspices, titled ‘Central Asia: One Past and a Common Future, Cooperation for Sustainable Development and Mutual Prosperity’.

The November 10-11 international conference was purported to discuss topical issues such as the strengthening peace and stability in Central Asia, and developing regional cooperation. Many participants from different countries and international organizations attended the conference.

The speakers covered a wide range of topics related to the Central Asian region and stressed the role of the region in the dialogue and interpenetration of world cultures and religions. There was general agreement that the possession of significant natural resources on an equal footing with the location of the region has an important geopolitical significance, including for the stability of the entire Eurasian continent.

The participants also stressed the decisive role of the state in promoting regional and international cooperation through negotiations and consultations on the basis of consensus and respect for each other’s rights. They noted the importance of cooperation in issues of international and regional security, the use of water and energy resources in Central Asia, positive changes in the issue of delimitation and demarcation of borders, the development of joint measures and strategies to prevent violent extremism, among others.

Along with the Central Asian Foreign Ministers, the heads of the foreign ministries of Afghanistan and Iran, the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, heads of secretariats of international organisations, scientists and NGOs took part in the conference under the UN auspices.

Abdrakhmanov stressed that security and stability are interlinked with sustainable development at the national and regional levels. Kazakhstan is firmly of the view that stable models of economic and social progress, stable political institutions prevent the spread of common threats and challenges such as terrorism and extremism, drug trafficking, organised crime, illegal migration and human trafficking.

A joint regional approach also helps overcome natural disasters and catastrophes, including the tragedy of the Aral Sea and the use of trans-boundary water resources, he noted.

“That is why President Nazarbayev proposed in his policy address to the UN Security Council in early 2017 the creation of a model zone for peace, security and cooperation in Central Asia and Afghanistan, from where the spirit of trust and cooperation will extend to neighbouring countries and regions,” he said.

Abdrakhmanov pointed out that some elements of such a zone already exist. These include cooperation within the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea, the Central Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone, and the Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Centre (CARICC).

In this regard, Kazakhstan offers a comprehensive approach based on three principles: the security-development nexus, the regional approach, and the coordinated efforts of UN agencies and institutions.

Abdrakhmanov also noted that Kazakhstan supports the decision of the European Union to update the EU Strategy for Central Asia. The document, expected to be elaborated by the end of 2019, will establish priorities for further cooperation.

In developing the new EU Strategy for Central Asia, Kazakhstan proposes to focus on increasing the impact of the document, in particular, the preparation of projects with results that will strengthen region’s potential.

Speaking about the development of transit and transport potential, the Kazakh Foreign Minister noted that Central Asia should not remain simply a transit region. The EU’s experience and assistance should be used to help diversify Central Asian economies and in-demand high-tech industries.

The meeting of the EU-CA Foreign Ministers in Samarkand resulted in the adoption of a joint communiqué which outlined the mutual vision of further cooperation.

As The Astana Times reported, in Samarkand, Abdrakhmanov met with Mogherini, as well as the European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica. The meetings particularly focused on assistance to Afghanistan and Kazakhstan’s official development assistance projects, which allocated more than $450 million over the past several years.

Another important event was the signing by the foreign ministers of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan of an agreement on the area of the junction point of the state borders of the three states. The agreement is part of the completion of one of the stages of international legal formalisation of the state border between Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan and will create a solid basis for strengthening mutual respect, sovereign equality and the territorial integrity of the three bordering states, wrote The Astana Times.

“Since the first days of independence, President Nazarbayev paid close attention to the delimitation of the state border. In fact, this is a matter of responsible state-building and security of the country. The trilateral agreement signed today is largely historical for Central Asia, since it finalises the legal registration of the state borders of our three states,” Abdrakhmanov said after the signing ceremony.

He also met separately with his Kyrgyz counterpart Erlan Abdyldayev to discuss regional and bilateral cooperation and integration within the Eurasian Economic Union. The two Foreign Ministrs affirmed their desire to strengthen bilateral relations and resolve trade and economic issues. [IDN-InDepthNews – 03 December 2017]

Photo: Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov addressing a conference on central Asia under UN auspices. Credit: The Astana Times.

IDN is the flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate. –

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