Interview of Executive Director of the CICA Secretariat Ambassador Dulat Bakishev, given to the journal " L'essentiel des relations internationales" # 29, January 2010 . KAZAKHSTAN: BRIDGING THE EAST AND THE WEST
The attention of the Euro-Atlantic community is increasingly focusing on Kazakhstan as it assumes the chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on January 1, 2010. Few in Europe know, however, that Kazakhstan is no stranger to leading major international forums and, more importantly, bringing a meaningful contribution to strengthening the international security.
Kazakhstan's initiative to convene the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) and its success in bringing most Asian countries together in creating this structure, now one of the most dynamic and promising multilateral institutions in Asia, is a particular case in point. Bridging Europe and Asia geographically and now, with simultaneous chairmanships in the OSCE and CICA, also politically, Kazakhstan can play an important role in promoting the dialogue and cooperation between the two parts of Eurasia. It is then important to share what the CICA stands for and where it could work with the OSCE.
The collapse of the bipolar world in the late 20th century, the appearance of new states in Eurasia following the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the dynamic development of major Asian nations and their diverging interests created a new challenging security environment.
Kazakhstan, a newly independent state coming onto the world stage with no negative baggage internationally, saw the opportunity to shape this environment in a way that would benefit all. One of the country's first acts was to call on the international community to establish a new forum for security and dialogue in Asia.
THE IMPORTANCE OF CICA
In 1992, in his maiden speech to the UN General Assembly, Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev proposed to convene the CICA. After a decade of intense diplomacy, in 2002 Kazakhstan hosted the first ever CICA summit, bringing together countries such as China, India, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and Russia.
Since then the Conference, under Kazakhstan's chairmanship, has become a functioning body effectively dealing with a variety of security issues.
Today, it is the only forum covering the entire Asian continent. It has twenty member states representing nearly ninety percent of the area and population of Asia. Its reach extends from Turkey in the west to the Republic of Korea in the east.
The CICA is a unique platform that offers equal opportunities to each and every Asian state to participate in the debate and decision making on a broad range of security problems of common interest.
It has already been able to demonstrate its ability and relevance as, for instance, when last year the CICA issued an appeal to its member states for humanitarian assistance, including emergency food aid, to Afghanistan which elicited good response.
CICA's main objective is to move towards a unified Asian collective security structure on a step by step basis.
The CICA aims to achieve this through implementing confidence building measures (CBMs) in five areas, including military and political dimension; the fight against new challenges and threats including terrorism, drug trafficking, trans-national crime, and human trafficking; economic dimension; environment; and human dimension.
CICA founders recognized the response to common security challenges should be collaborative and multilateral. The CICA decided to adopt a consensus-based approach. The CICA member states also came to understand that the existing discords in the region could not be an obstacle to finding common approaches to common problems. The CICA offers a platform for the member states to discuss current issues of common interest.
A few weeks ago, CICA deputy foreign ministers met in Beijing to consider the way to implement confidence building measures in military and political dimension. They agreed that a “Perception Paper” presented by Kazakhstan would form the basis for further deliberations in his dimensions. They also adopted action plans for multilateral cooperation in the small- and medium-enterprise sector and tourism. The most important item on the agenda, though, was the preparation for the third CICA summit in Turkey next summer, when Ankara assumes CICA chairmanship.
FROM CICA TO OSCE
Things do not always go smoothly. Asia is the most diverse continent ethnically and culturally. There are religious, political and economic differences to overcome. In addition, Asia continues to face multiple flash points with significant conflict potentials that have been in existence for historical and other reasons. In these circumstances, it would be unnatural for the CICA to make drastic moves forward. The forum’s value is in its ability to offer a platform for its every member’s concerns to be heard and considered. This quality allows the CICA to find a way and move forward.
While the CICA was not visualized as an OSCE for Asia, there are obvious similarities and connections between the two institutions. Both share the fundamental objectives of promoting peace and security in their respective regions. Principles guiding relations between member states of the two bodies have striking similarities. The CICA Almaty Act of 2002, like the OSCE Helsinki Act, is a political document and not a treaty. In both structures, decisions are taken by consensus and implemented on a voluntary basis. Seven CICA member states are also members of the OSCE, others happen to be the latter's Partners for cooperation.
We are convinced Kazakhstan's Chairmanship will help the OSCE develop closer cooperation with Asian institutions, such as the CICA. Closer interaction will be beneficial for both the CICA and the OSCE. Specific areas of mutual interest include military and political aspects of security; the fight against terrorism; conflict prevention; activities in the spheres of economy, environment and cooperation in human dimension. The OSCE has rich experience in implementing confidence building measures that is valuable for other organizations.
We in the CICA have no doubt Astana will continue to play a positive role of a bridge builder. During the short period since its inception, the CICA with Kazakhstan at its helm has made big strides in its endeavor to find ways and means to eliminate the causes of mistrust, tension and hostility and create conditions for economic prosperity and sustainable peace in Asia.
We believe Kazakhstan's OSCE Chairmanship in 2010 will add new dynamism and produce practical results that are beneficial for Asia, the relationship between the CICA and the OSCE, and, therefore, for both the East and the West. ■