Asian monitor Publications

Advisory Meeting of Heads of State of Central Asia - Results and Prospects

About the results of the meeting of the leaders of the Central Asian countries in the context of enhanced cooperation, increasing the subjectivity of the region, solving the accumulated problems - in an article by Erkin Baidarov, a leading researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies. R.B. Suleimenov Committee of Sciences of the Ministry of Education and Science of the RK, Assistant Professor of the Kazakh University of World Relations and World Languages. Abyla Khan, Candidate of Philosophy.

The second Consultative Meeting of Heads of State of Central Asia was held in Tashkent on November 29 this November. This meeting was expected by many experts of the countries of the region, as it was supposed to take place in April, but for one reason or another it was postponed to another term.

It should be noted that modern Central Asia is a region with a rich cultural and historical heritage. Central Asia has always served as a unique bridge connecting Europe, the Middle East, South and East Asia. Today, enormous natural resources, enormous human potential are concentrated here, and the competing interests of the leading world powers intersect. These and other issues, as well as the immediate proximity of major foci of instability, raise difficult questions for the countries of the region regarding stability, the likelihood of new challenges and risks, and further building of cooperation in such conditions. Thus, the relevance of this event in the political life of the Central Asian region speaks for itself.

After the first meeting in Astana (now Nur-Sultan) a year and a half passed. Naturally, there have been many events since the first meeting, where leaders of Central Asian countries met in the framework of International Forums, as well as in the framework of working and official state visits to one of the countries of the region. For example, on the eve of the Consultative Meeting, the working and official visits of the Presidents of Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan to Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, respectively, took place. However, a non-third-party meeting of all Central Asian heads of state, where issues and prospects for further development could be discussed, is an extraordinary event and therefore of great interest, both from the expert community and from citizens of the countries of the region.

The difference between the second Consultative Meeting the first was that Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedov, who was absent at the meeting in Astana, took part in it. The second surprise was the absence of Kazakh President Kasim-Zhomart Tokayev. Instead, the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan - Elbasy Nursultan Nazarbayev, who voluntarily left his post in March this year, took part in the summit of the heads of state of Central Asia. However, the former state's participation in the meeting in Tashkent was highly anticipated, since at the recent summit of the heads of Turkic states (the Turkic Council) in Kazakhstan, Kazakhstan was also represented by Nursultan Nazarbayev, where he was elected life chairman of the Turkmen-speaking Cooperation Council. Thus, the second Consultative Meeting of Heads of State of Central Asia was held with the participation of four current presidents and one ex-president.

It should be noted that the first meeting in Astana was historic and opened up new perspectives of political, economic and cultural-humanitarian cooperation before the Central Asian countries. The first idea to hold an informal meeting of heads of state of Central Asia was voiced by Uzbek President Shawkat Mirziyoyev in 2017. Later, Nursultan Nazarbayev supported the initiative of the Uzbek leader and offered to hold a meeting of Central Asian leaders in Astana. Such meetings are, of course, indispensable, as they give an opportunity to consider the most pressing problems facing the countries of the region and to outline further steps to solve them.

Moreover, in a rapidly changing global environment, the escalation of security threats and the strengthening of factors that negatively affect sustainable development necessitate the strengthening of partnerships based on mutual trust and coordination of efforts.

In this regard, the current meeting should open a qualitatively new phase of the top-level regional dialogue. Agenda of the Second Consultative Meeting It included the issues of expanding regional cooperation in political, trade, economic, investment, transport, communications and cultural and humanitarian spheres. The consideration of these issues became a benchmark for the proposals made by the political leaders of the countries of the region, which was later reflected in the Joint Statement of the Consultative Meeting of the Heads of State of Central Asia.

The Second Consultative Meeting of the Heads of State of Central Asia showed that the countries of the region are ready for open dialogue and agreed decisions on the most pressing issues of regional development. Businesses and interregional contacts, transport communication, cultural and humanitarian exchanges are expanding between Central Asian countries. Thanks to political will and practical steps, the countries of the region are reaching a higher level of interaction. In all this, as stated by President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, there is a steady tendency - strengthening of the independent role and responsibility of our states for the common future.

On the rights of the "owner" of the meeting Uzbekistan's leader made a number of interesting proposals:

- to hold the Central Asian Investment Forum and the first session of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry of the countries;

- accelerate the establishment of a Regional Transport Communications Council;

- to organize the International Travel Conference "Traveling in Central Asia" to promote joint programs on the principle of "One tour - the whole region";

- Establish an Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group;

- to create a platform for cultural and humanitarian exchange called "Central Asia - one past, a common future";

- Establish the Central Asian Prize for Outstanding Achievements in Science, Culture and the Arts, hold University Forums and Regional Sports Games;

- holding annual Central Asian Culture Days on the eve of the Navruz Spring Festival and others.

The number of voiced proposals from the Uzbek leader tried to "keep up" and the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan - Yelbasy Nursultan Nazarbayev. So, ex-president of Kazakhstan in order to improve the well-being of the peoples of all the countries of the region, he proposed to conclude a Treaty of Neighborhood and Cooperation for the Development of Central Asia in the 21st Century. As Nursultan Nazarbayev emphasized, this policy document should reflect the basic principles and goals of regional interaction. The agreement should include provisions on mutual respect for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Central Asian countries. In addition, in order to enhance security in the region, N. Nazarbayev proposed to hold a meeting of the Secretaries of the Central Asian Security Councils in the 2020 year. At the same time, the First President of Kazakhstan called on the governments of the participating countries to pay attention to the problems related to the high dynamics of demographic development and called for “to create a barrier-free Central Asia” by removing obstacles to the movement of goods, services and capital.

Other leaders of Central Asian countries have also been paying attention to enhancing cultural and humanitarian cooperation. So, Tajikistan's President Emomali Rahmon suggested to develop a regional program of inter-university and scientific exchanges, holding joint scientific-practical conferences, seminars, research and roundtables on current problems of the region, thereby encouraging contacts between scientific, educational centers and creative circles of Central Asian countries. As part of this, Nursultan Nazarbayev offered to provide grants for students from each country in the region, who receive the right to study at the best universities in Kazakhstan, under 10. In addition, the Tajik leader suggested that the Central Asian Nations Culture Days be held annually on the territory of the country, which will host another advisory council. In turn, the Kazakh "axakal" of Central Asian politics proposed to establish the 15 March as a new holiday - the Day of Central Asia. As we can see, the cultural and humanitarian aspect of the relations of the countries of the region became one of the main issues of the second Consultative Meeting of the Heads of State of Central Asia.

It deserves attention proposal by Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov to the heads of the Central Asian countries to think about the creation of a five-sided Business Council, which could take over the functions of a "think-tank" to form a joint strategy of the countries of the region in the priority areas of economic partnership. It should be noted that in the spring of 2018, the President of Turkmenistan, during his official visit to Uzbekistan, proposed to create a Council of Heads of State of Central Asia. According to Berdimuhamedov, an advisory body, called the Advisory Council of the Heads of State of Central Asia, could create a format for regular meetings and hold meetings "on an agreed agenda in turn in each of the capitals of the countries in the region."

Last meeting showed that Central Asian states are increasingly taking a consolidated stance on regional and global issues. As the President of Uzbekistan Shavat Mirziyoyev noted, “... our rapprochement and expansion of cooperation in the region is a demanded and irreversible process. It is based on solid political choices, has deep historical background and is not directed against anyone's interests. At the same time, by enhancing unity and cohesion, we contribute to the development of a stable and sustainably developing region, which means a promising and predictable international partner. "

Thus, in the context of international cooperation of the countries of Central Asia, the Heads of State of the region, in particular, the Presidents of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan drew the attention of their counterparts to Afghanistan, calling it "an integral part of our region" (Sh. Mirziyoyev). If the Uzbek leader stated that it was extremely important to develop coordinated approaches to the implementation of the required infrastructure and social projects in Afghanistan, as well as to the country's active involvement in regional trade and economic ties, the Turkmen President noted the importance of joint efforts to support reconciliation processes in Afghanistan. Like his Uzbek counterpart, the Turkmen leader is convinced that the key condition for political stabilization, economic and social reconstruction of Afghanistan, its successful integration into regional and peacekeeping processes is the implementation of large-scale infrastructure projects with Afghan involvement, especially in such vital spheres. like energy, transportation and communications. According to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, his country plans to continue its work on major projects involving Afghanistan and would welcome Central Asian states to join them.

It seems to us that the united position of the leaders of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan regarding Afghanistan was discussed by them during their personal meeting the day before, during the working visit of the President of Turkmenistan to Uzbekistan. In this context, the question arises as to whether it is appropriate to include Afghanistan and its problems in the situation of uncertainty of the Central Asian states themselves (Eurasian or Central Asian integration)?

Despite the willingness of the meeting participants to agree on the key principles and goals of interaction, to create favorable conditions for the movement of people, capital, goods and services, as well as a broad cultural and humanitarian exchange, to promote effective mechanisms for strengthening the neighborhood and partnership in Central Asia, less, in our view, the Consultative Meeting left a double impression. In fact, this meeting, where many interesting proposals were made, left unanswered the issue of cooperation / integration of the region itself. Apart from the beautiful words about the community of the peoples of the region, the common history and culture, religion, spiritual and moral values ​​and traditions, which is certainly a strong foundation for the close and mutually beneficial cooperation of the Central Asian states, which was sufficiently said at the first meeting in Astana, we by and large, nothing new was heard.

The prospects for the development of Central Asian countries remain vague. At the same time, it should be made clear that in the context of the role of Moscow and Beijing in the Central Asian direction, it is necessary to understand that the new quality of Russian and Chinese presence in the region will require new qualitative improvement of the economic policy of the Central Asian states. This is inevitable. In this context, it is appropriate for the Central Asian countries to develop a single economic development strategy aimed at realizing the economic cooperation of the region.

But most importantly, this meeting still took place. She was waiting for her. Even if these hopes were not fulfilled… The summit consultation allowed comprehensive consideration of perspective directions, forms and mechanisms of further development of cooperation in the fields of trade, economy, investment, transport and transit, agriculture, industrial cooperation, environmental protection. environment, energy, water, tourism, science and culture.

The tendency for regional rapprochement in Central Asia to like it or not is a historically conditioned reality. Modern realities show the need and the need to activate and develop contacts between the countries of the region through regular summits. The intensification of regional cooperation in the fields of politics, security, stability and achievement of sustainable development in the region meets the fundamental interests of all the peoples of Central Asia, contributes to the further strengthening of brotherly ties between them, serves the full realization of the huge economic and civilizational potential of Central Asia.

Following the Summit, a Joint Statement was adopted and the Rules for the Preparation and Conduct of Consultative Meetings were approved.

As expected, the First President of Kazakhstan - Yelbasy Nursultan Nazarbayev was unanimously elected Honorary Chairman of the Consultative Meeting of Central Asian Heads. Thus, Nursultan Nazarbayev is currently the Honorary Chairman of the Council of Cooperation of the Turkic-speaking States, the Honorary Chairman of the Consultative Meeting of the Heads of Central Asia, as well as the Honorary Chairman of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council.

The next Consultative Meeting of the Heads of State of Central Asia will be held in 2020 in Kyrgyzstan.