SHANGHAI – The Fourth Summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) took place on May 21 in Shanghai becoming the largest and the most representative in the history of this security forum. It brought together representatives of 26 member states, seven observer states and four international organisations, as well as guests of the summit. Among the member states were Qatar and Bangladesh, who joined CICA as full members just prior to the meeting of the heads of state.
The summit focused on the theme of Enhancing Dialogue, Trust and Coordination for a New Asia of Peace, Stability and Cooperation. It followed the three earlier meetings of heads of state and government from countries such as Egypt, Iran, Israel, Russia, India, Pakistan, China, and Vietnam. The first two summits took place in Almaty in 2002 and 2006, and the third summit took place in Istanbul in 2010.
“The world order is undergoing major changes. The world becomes less secure, new challenges raise and the whole constant of the international law undergoes a major transformation,” said President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan in his speech at the summit. Nazarbayev, who proposed the idea of CICA in his first ever speech as the head of state at the United Nations in October 1992, noted that CICA has become an indispensable mechanism for responding the current geopolitical challenges and global threats.
The Kazakh leader noted that today Asia is the engine of the world economy. Among 20 most developed economies of the world there are six Asian countries. Cumulative GDP of the CICA member states makes up one third of the global GDP. And yet, Asia has an extremely complicated geopolitical situation. Affected by a troubled history and current problems, the continent confronts multiple security risks and conflicts. As Nazarbayev said, 60 percent of the world’s hunger is attributed to Asia. In order to confront the problems of multifaceted security, Asian countries need to foster a closer dialogue and elaborate comprehensive measures, promote a security outlook on the basis of mutual trust and benefit, equality and coordination. Among such measures are securing the peaceful use of nuclear energy, creating transportation corridors allowing boosting economic activities, effective food programs, and monetary regulations.
Having listed these reasons, Nazarbayev proposed a new initiative of creating an effective international body, the Organisation for Security and Development in Asia (OSDA) based on CICA. According to him, the new organisation would promote a favourable environment for creating economic and social developmental models which would be built upon Oriental traditions and values. The OSDA will seek to be a solid partner of the West, which, as the Kazakh leader put it, cannot undergo sustainable development without cooperation and mutual understanding with the East.
Nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament a common priority
At the summit, Kazakhstan worked with partners to promote initiatives in the area of nuclear security.
The final Declaration adopted in Shanghai contained a clause on Kazakhstan’s proposal to adopt a Universal Declaration on achieving a nuclear-weapon-free world by the UN General Assembly. The CICA member states expressed their full support for the objective of the global and total elimination of nuclear weapons and strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime in all respects based on the principles of non-discrimination, equal, indivisible and undiminished security for all states.
Regarding regional nuclear-weaponfree zones, the summit welcomed the nuclear-weapon-free status of Central Asia. In the Declaration, the CICA member states commended the signing by the five NPT nuclear-weapon states of the Protocol on negative security guarantees to the Central Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty on May 6 in New York.
The CICA summit also supported the establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and All Weapons of Mass Destruction, and the declaration of September 2012 by Mongolia and the five NPT nuclear-weapon states on Mongolia’s nuclear-weapon-free status as a concrete contribution to non-proliferation and the enhancement of confidence and predictability in the region.
“For many countries, solving problems of poverty, unemployment, and food shortage depends on development of peaceful nuclear energy,” said President Nazarbayev in his summit speech. This is why he reiterated Kazakhstan’s initiative to accommodate the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) Low Enriched Uranium Bank on the territory of Kazakhstan. The CICA member states called upon the IAEA to make the supply of low enriched uranium from this bank available to all CICA member states without any conditionalities that detract from the IAEA Statute.
Promoting a vision of a New Silk Road, cooperation with Iran
The President of Kazakhstan also highlighted the importance and imperative of the restoration of the Great Silk Road. He praised the idea of Chinese President Xi Jinping to create a Silk Road Infrastructure Fund. “Next year Kazakhstan commissions the Western Europe – Western China motorway which will cut the shipment time by half. New railways leading to China and South-East Asia…, construction of the railway to Iran and the Persian Gulf – all these contribute to the revival of the Silk Road,” Nazarbayev said.
The Kazakh leader held several bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the summit, including with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani.
Rouhani said that Kazakhstan was an important country in the region and that Iran was willing to boost the relations. The Iranian leader called for more cooperation in the Caspian Sea and related legal issues. “On trade, shipping, environmental and tourism development in the Caspian Sea there are important issues where Iran and Kazakhstan should exploit the capacities and opportunities for a better economic and trade relations,” Rouhani said.
Nazarbayev expressed his readiness to expand the current level of bilateral relations. “Exploiting Iran’s enormous transit capacities through the railway connection is important for Kazakhstan, and we will work to complete the project,” said the Kazakhstan leader referring to the Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran connection that is slated to be commissioned later this year.
Wide-ranging Declaration focuses on common threats, highlights common approaches to Afghanistan, other challenges
In the final Declaration, the CICA member states stated their “collective desire to carry forward the spirit of solidarity, cooperation and mutual assistance; respect each other’s sovereignty; seek common development and progress; and stay committed to building a security environment in Asia based on confidence, mutual trust, good neighbourliness, partnership and cooperation among all states deeply rooted in the heart of the Asian people.” They further noted that “no state will strengthen its security at the expense of security of other states.”
“We reaffirm that diversity in traditions, cultures and values in Asia is a valuable asset to the rich content of the cooperative relations among CICA member states,” the CICA states declared adding that they will respect each other’s right to freely choose and develop political, social, economic and cultural systems.
The CICA declared its support for the United Nations’ leading role in “safeguarding and advancing international peace, cooperation and security; and promoting common development, human rights and supremacy of international law.”
The CICA further declared its members commitment to fighting terrorism, extremism and separatism. The Declaration also highlighted the common desire to work on issues such as energy security, promoting regional connectivity, and cooperating on information and communications technologies.
The Declaration also touched upon on contemporary security challenges in CICA’s vast area, ranging from the Middle East to Northeast Asia to the situation in Afghanistan.
“We express our support to the orderly and peaceful conclusion of the ongoing developments in the Middle East and North Africa, in conformity with the UN Charter, International Law and legitimate aspirations of the peoples of the region,” the CICA member states, including Egypt, Turkey and Israel, said.
They called for upon all parties concerned with the Middle East peace process “to implement all the relevant UN resolutions to achieve comprehensive, lasting and just peace and security and stability in the region by resuming negotiations, to establish the Palestine State, based on the relevant UN resolutions and on internationally recognised legal basis on this issue with the aim of achieving the two-state solution of two states living in peace and security with each other, while fully preserving the peace, security, sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of all other states in the region.”
They further recognised “the significance of regional dialogue and cooperation as means of building trust in Northeast Asia. In this regard, we welcome the relevant initiatives by regional countries, including the “Ulaanbaatar Dialogue on the Northeast Asian Security” proposed by the President of Mongolia and the “Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Initiative (NAPCI)” proposed by the President of the Republic of Korea.”
Turning to Afghanistan, which is also a member of CICA, the Conference member states said “the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan should be Afghan-owned and Afghan-led.”
They called upon “the Afghan armed opposition groups to renounce violence, sever ties with Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organisations and respect the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.”
They further applauded the people and the government of Afghanistan for “holding the recent presidential and provincial council elections that mark peaceful transition of power from one elected government to another.”
Having taken note of the completion of the transition process from ISAF forces to Afghan forces at the end of the 2014 and the beginning of what they called “the transformation decade,” the CICA member states declared that they “remain committed to support Afghanistan and work with the rest of the international community to contribute to Afghanistan’s and the region’s security, stability, economic growth and development.”
The Declaration clearly registered concern of CICA members for the future of that country.
“While appreciating the Afghan national efforts and the joint and concerted regional and international cooperation to address the challenge of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including dismantling of terrorist sanctuaries and safe havens, as well as disrupting all financial and tactical support for terrorism, we emphasise the need for continuing these efforts further,” the CICA member states said focusing on the need to fight drug production and trafficking.
In conclusion, the heads of state declared their intentions to continue contributing to “bringing lasting peace and common prosperity in Asia,” and welcomed plans to relocate the CICA Secretariat from Almaty to Astana.
Holding the CICA summit was important for China as the country assumed its chairmanship for 2014-16 and expressed readiness to be actively involved in the CICA process and enhancing Asia’s security. At the summit, the participants expressed gratitude to Turkey for its great input in promoting CICA’s ideas as CICA chairman in 2010-14.
Meruert Nemerbayeva contributed to this report from Astana.