KAZAKH PRESIDENT SPEAKS ON CENTRAL ASIAN COOPERATION AND SUPPORT TO AFGHANISTAN

Central Asia, gaining a new regional identity, plays an increasingly important role in international affairs, Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said at the Munich Security Conference last weekend, the New Europe reports.

“Today we are seeing a rapprochement between the countries of the region.  Multilateral political dialogue has increased. Mutual trade and economic ties are developing dynamically. Old regional problems are being addressed. There is a consolidation of forces and the development of common approaches to achieve joint goals,” Tokayev said during his speech “Geography Matters: A talks on Central Asia”.

Speaking about the role of the region, Tokayev expressed the opinion that the place of Central Asia in global geopolitics will only increase.  According to him, Central Asia is one of the key regions for the implementation of the Chinese megaproject “One Belt – One Road”.

He informed the forum participants about the foreign policy priorities of Kazakhstan, the relations of Kazakhstan with Russia, China, the EU, the US, as well as with Afghanistan.

“Secondly. External players are also rethinking their strategy in the region in the context of implementing specific and very promising projects. So, Russia continues to effectively interact with the Central Asian states both on a bilateral basis and through integration initiatives, primarily the EAEU,” Tokayev said.

According to him, a constructive dialogue is being built in the “EU – Central Asia” format. “The United States is also striving to keep abreast. Just a few days ago, the new United States Strategy for Central Asia 2019-2025 was announced. Overall, joint projects of Central Asian countries with Russia, China, the European Union, and the US are aimed at the comprehensive development and strengthening of security in our region,” Tokayev stressed.

Almost all Central Asian countries continue to make great efforts to resolve the Afghan problem, he said.

“Our country is also continuing to implement an educational program worth $50 million for more than a thousand Afghan students. To improve communication on all these issues, a Special Representative of the Republic of Kazakhstan for Afghanistan will be appointed soon,” the Kazakh president said.

He noted an increased role of the region as an international actor. It is expressed through the promotion and implementation of important international initiatives.

“Our region is contributing to the environmental agenda. In 2017, Kazakhstan successfully held a specialised EXPO exhibition dedicated to green energy. Last year, we created the International Centre for Green Technologies and Investments.  Water security issues are of great importance for the region,” Tokayev said and added: “We are grateful to Germany for the Green Central Asia project, which was launched on January 28 this year. Given the growing climate threat, Kazakhstan is proposing to establish a Global Climate Change Fund under the auspices of the United Nations,” Tokayev said.

The President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, also participated in the discussion as a speaker. The meeting was moderated by Richard Nathan Haas, American diplomat and President of the Council on Foreign Relations.