November 11, 2009
Dulat Bakishev: CICA is not a panacea for all sores.
The idea of convening the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) was presented for the first time by the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev at 47th session of UN General Assembly in October 1992. Since that time, the forum has gone through the difficult journey of its development and formation. Today under the conditions of globalization of all the world processes, CICA activity is acquiring a particular significance. Correspondent of “Izvestia-Kazakhstan" Nikolai Limov talks with Dulat Bakishev, Executive Director of the CICA Secretariat about the place and role of the CICA on geopolitical map of the world.
Q: Dulat Hangereevich, providing conditions for strengthening mutual trust and constructive cooperation in the Asian region is one of the main objectives of CICA. What has been done in this direction in the organization during the chairmanship of our country?
A: First of all, Kazakh diplomacy has done its best to prepare and launch an effective international framework on initiative of the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev. As of now, specific work has started in all the five areas of cooperation defined in the basic documents of the Conference, that is, economic, human, environmental areas and new challenges and threats, as well as military and political dimension. Substantially, institutional work was completed in 2006 when the permanent administrative body - the Secretariat - was established.
Q: In recent years much has been said about the efforts of international community to strengthen global and regional security. What is the role of the CICA? Does it duplicate to some extent the SCO or other organization, in which Kazakhstan is a participant?
A: Well-known experts on international issues note that in the age of globalization no organization is able to ensure security on its own. A system of international institutions involved in addressing various tasks at sub-regional, regional and global levels is needed. CICA is not intended to copy anyone, because it was originally established by a sufficiently large group of states to achieve specific goals.
Q: Among analysts and political scientists, there are several opinions about the CICA activity. As some experts think, the CICA loses its practical meaning. This structure is probably locked in the harmonization of the theoretical issues of cooperation between members of the organization, and the CICA potential is being wasted. It is being said that importance of this organization in the world is falling. What can you say about this?
A: Opinions differ. In CICA, we are dealing with relations among the states. It is important to strengthen them. And it is not a short-term business project. It is a complex and multidimensional political process which focuses on long-term perspective. The CICA unites 20 states. Figuratively, it is a long train which initiates movement for a given route. Therefore, it is early to speak for those who want to be disappointed. As head of the CICA Secretariat, I regularly meet with the leadership of foreign offices of Asian countries, as well as international organizations. Their estimates are very positive. Two years ago the UN General Assembly granted observer status to our Forum, which indicates an increased credibility. As one former American president told, a fact is a stubborn thing.
Within a short period, specific action plans in human dimension, in the area of new challenges and threats, development of small and medium enterprise and tourism were approved. We are expecting that in the next six or seven months documents of the practical importance on the above-mentioned priority directions will be approved. In 2010, several ministerial meetings are planned along with a number of activities jointly with other international structures. In short, we can state that the conceptual work has already been completed. Now the CICA Member States are working on concrete plans of cooperation and their implementation. This question may be related to the fact that success in our sphere attracts less attention than the various negative developments and conflicts. Another aspect to be kept in mind is that one should not have excessive expectations, because the CICA is not a panacea for all sores.
Q: It is true that there are plenty of problems in the world and that no one organization is capable of solving them all. For example, take our neighbours on the continent - Iraq, Afghanistan. Despite the fact that diplomats speak so much about measures undertaken for stabilization of atmosphere in these countries, the situation there still remains tense. What are the concrete steps undertaken by the CICA for normalization of the situation in this volatile region?
A: Of course, we are highly concerned about what is happening in these countries. Within the framework of its competence, the forum contributes for peaceful development of Afghanistan, which is a Member State of CICA, by the way of rendering the humanitarian aid. I would like to mention that the Afghan side has taken active part in preparation of the Concept Paper of CICA on combating drug trafficking. The Action Plan in this area will be considered in January 2010 and, we hope, it will be approved. We, at the Secretariat, are confident that the CICA Member States, with vigorous participation of Kabul, will undertake necessary work. With regard to Iraq, as you are aware, this state is not a Member of the forum. Nevertheless the political dialogue and various activities, which are carried out within the framework of CICA, including those in social and economic areas, certainly have favourable impact on the general atmosphere in Asia and consequently on all those who occupy our continent.
Q: One of the most difficult issues of world diplomacy is an issue of nuclear ambitions of Iran, a state - participant of CICA.
The position of Kazakhstan in this issue is clear: all peaceful nuclear programmes should be transparent and should be under strict control of International Atomic Energy Agency. What could you tell us about the role of CICA in the process of nuclear disarmament?
A: To some extent the success of diplomatic efforts on convening the CICA is connected with a positive example of Astana in nuclear area. The CICA has approved a number of important political documents including those regarding activities of states in nuclear area. It is obvious that international community has to strengthen the non-proliferation regime, and also to succeed in disarmament issues.
Q: Let us talk about the role of CICA in addressing current social and economic problems. In 2004, speaking at a ministerial meeting, President Nursultan Nazarbayev noted that the solution of these issues is an important condition for successful fight against ideology and practice of international terrorism. How and by which mechanisms the CICA contributes in addressing social and economic issues? In the beginning of conversation you have mentioned that CICA coordinates cooperation in five basic areas. To your mind, what are the areas in which the forum has achieved significant results and what are the areas to work actively?
A: With regard to your first question, in the end of October in Beijing, the CICA Member States approved and proceeded for implementation of Action Plans in the area of promotion of small and medium enterprise and development of tourism. Along with that, concrete activities in the areas of energy security, combating illegal drug traffic, counteraction to new threats and challenges, interaction in environmental dimension, exchange of expertise in development of agriculture and IT are being actively considered and elaborated. It seems that within the framework of preparation for the Third CICA Summit, the Member States will be able to approve Action Plans on commencing work in these directions. Regarding the second question: in the end of October of this year, Kazakhstan, in its capacity of Chairman of CICA, has presented a perception paper in military and political dimension which is very sensitive not only for Asian, but for all countries. This document has been positively received. This direction needs a lot to work, and the main thing is that the Member States are showing their readiness for it. And as a whole, on the five basic directions of work of the forum, I wish to say that there is progress in all directions.
Q: What are the short and long term prospects of organization?
A: The closest and the most important objective is preparation and holding of the Third CICA Summit in Turkey. As to long-term prospect, the basis documents of CICA contain an irrefutable answer – a joint activity of Asian countries for establishment on the continent of an atmosphere of common security. The CICA Member States consistently strive for this purpose, consciously taking all decisions, on a consensus basis. During the years of elaboration of conceptual approaches, in my opinion, the Member States have reached the important result – the existing geopolitical realities and contradictions do not disturb their desire and possibility to work together, to coordinate positions and to move forward to the achievement of overall aims together. And as you see, it is most valuable in our work.