Central Asia – Russia summit in Astana seeks increased cooperation amid emerging risks and tough geopolitical situation

ASTANA. KAZINFORM – The Kazakh capital of Astana continues to be in the spotlight, as it hosts the Central Asia – Russia summit on October 14 gathering heads of state to explore ways to increase cooperation amid rising tensions and related risks. More about the key proposals made at the summit is in the latest article of Kazinform.

Presidents of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, President of Kyrgyzstan Sadyr Japarov, President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon, President of Turkmenistan Serdar Berdimuhamedov, President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev, and President of Russia Vladimir Putin attended the meeting with each of them offering their vision of how cooperation between Central Asia and Russia should unfold.

Security and stability

Welcoming leaders in Astana, President Tokayev focused on security and stability in the region as well as the need to boost trade relations.

«At the current difficult stage of world history, it is more important than ever for us to have a clear and positive image of the future. I would like to present my vision of our future cooperation in the context of the following key areas. The first is security. Our countries are destined to be together. We must protect our shared history and create a unified future for the well-being of our people. The stability and security of each of our countries have a direct influence on the development of the region,» he said at the summit.

He called on the leaders to develop unified approaches to preventing conflicts. While security issues are being addressed both bilaterally and within the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization), SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization), CICA (the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia), and CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States), he suggested the security councils of the participating countries submit concrete proposals on the creation of preventive measures.

Tokayev commended the important role of the Consultative Meetings of the Heads of State of Central Asia. The latest was held in Cholpon-Ata, Kyrgyzstan in July 2022.

«At the same time, the situation in the world is changing rapidly and the existing mechanisms of interaction need systematic improvement. Attempts to destabilize the situation in the region and the use of hybrid and information technologies to foment conflicts are clear examples,» said the Kazakh President.

Unresolved border issues

According to Tokayev, another destabilizing factor is the unresolved issue of borders with the latest between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

«The resolution of border issues should be exclusively peaceful and in the spirit of centuries-old friendship, trust, and good neighborliness as well as in strict compliance with the fundamental principles of international law and the United Nations Charter.»

Trade development with a renewed focus

Speaking about the importance of boosting trade, Tokayev suggested focusing on measures to support small and medium-sized businesses, the launch of joint projects in energy, industry, transport, and logistics, and agriculture.

«At the same time, it is important to remove trade barriers and avoid protectionist measures. We need to step up efforts to develop intra-regional trade. Here it is advisable to focus on improving the structure of trade turnover and expanding its nomenclature,» he said.

He reaffirmed Kazakhstan’s keen interest to cooperate in digitalization, mentioning Kazakhstan’s notable progress in this area. The Astana International Financial Center, where more than 1400 companies from 64 countries have already been registered, can become an effective platform for encouraging direct and portfolio investments in regional projects.

«We should continue paying attention to this important sphere and fill it with new quality content in every possible way,» he added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his country’s readiness to strengthen trade, which has been demonstrating positive dynamics.

«Russia is open to strengthening multilateral cooperation with our Central Asian friends, participating in the creation of new supply chains, ensuring the smooth functioning of joint ventures, and building alternative logistical schemes. We are also interested in your countries joining Russia's large-scale import substitution initiatives and other programs and projects,» he said at the summit.

Addressing the summit, Kyrgyzstan’s President Sadyr Japarov agreed with Tokayev on the need to renew efforts to develop trade. He noted the significant potential of six countries with a total GDP of US$2.3 trillion and a population of 220 million people

«We are keen to develop relations in this format and joint efforts to comprehensively develop trade, economy, transport, logistics, energy, agriculture, culture, and the humanitarian sector as well as work on migration issues. We should maintain political dialogues and seek compromises, promote our interests within regional and international organizations,» said Japarov at the summit.

He stressed the development of interstate relations with Central Asian countries and Russia is a priority for the Kyrgyz Republic, recalling the common historic legacy, culture, economies, languages, and spiritual values of the countries.

«We should continue to work to ensure simplified corridors for the flow of goods and services,» he added, saying the Central Asian region has all prerequisites to become a global trade hub.

Energy, industrial cooperation, textile, logistics, and new technologies have been the key message of Turkmen President Serdar Berdimuhamedov when he spoke about trade ties. He suggested creating a permanent business platform in Central Asia – Russia format.

«We need to optimize the North-South transport corridor from Russia to Central Asia. Turkmenistan provides the shortest route to the Persian Gulf and then to India,» he said. In fact, the enhancement of the North-South corridor was the focus of the recent meeting of Kazakh Minister of Industry and Infrastructure Development Kairat Uskenbayev with his counterparts from Iran and Central Asian countries on October 10 in Tehran.

Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev also noted the change in the quality content of trade between the six countries. He said there is an urgency to bring trade to a new level. When speaking about priority areas, Mirziyoyev focused on ensuring the free flow of goods and promoting import substitution programs.

«We suggest adopting the list of in-demand goods and simplifying their access to our markets,» he added.

Situation in Afghanistan

In their remarks, both Japarov and Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon noted the adverse impact of the unstable situation in Afghanistan on the region.

«Today, the entire international community faces the task of avoiding the repetition of past bitter experiences and putting an end to the many years of bloody military conflict in this country. Kyrgyzstan, as a traditionally friendly country to Afghanistan, adhering to the principle of non-interference in internal affairs, is interested in a stable and prosperous Afghanistan. We have always made and will continue to make efforts to establish peace in that country,» said Japarov.

He added that the revival of the Afghan economy would benefit all countries in the region and beyond. «It is important for the international community to revive and strengthen Afghanistan's economy, promote its involvement in inter-regional economic processes, advance the implementation of socially important infrastructure and regional energy projects as well as the further development of regional transport corridors,» he stressed.

Peaceful and developing Afghanistan is a guarantee of stability for the countries, according to Turkmenistan President Serdar Berdimuhamedov. He spoke about the infrastructure projects his country has been implementing with Afghanistan.

Mirziyoyev also stressed Afghan people should not be left alone with their problems, and ignorance of this difficult situation might lead to devastating consequences. He suggested special representatives of the six countries meet and develop approaches to support the Afghan people.

As the summit concludes, foreign ministers of six countries are expected to develop a joint action plan to implement the results of the meeting.

Written by Assel Satubaldina

Photo: t.me/bort_01

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