Lessons of the 13th Eurasian Media Forum

There is no denying that our planet faces many sizeable challenges. The current economic situation is setting new tests for every country. The turmoil in the Middle East is having a ripple effect globally, including the spread of international terrorism, extremism and the global migration crisis. The world is also facing many uncertainties and questions. Will the United Kingdom vote to leave the European Union this year? What will happen to the price of oil? How will the crisis in the Middle East develop? It is during unstable and insecure periods, such as the one facing us today, that getting together government officials, experts and other prominent and influential figures to discuss these challenges becomes more important than ever.

The Eurasian Media Forum (EAMF) that took place in Astana last week provided this opportunity. More than 400 international politicians, pundits and journalists were in the capital of Kazakhstan to discuss the main issues on the international agenda. Understandably, the main topics of discussion revolved around three main issues – the global economy, the crisis in the Middle East and the changing geopolitical landscape.

Throughout the sessions that took place over three days, common themes developed on why our world is facing so many problems. These included a lack of trust and lack of understanding between states and political blocs. Hamid Karzai, the former President of Afghanistan, pointed out during the session on the Middle East that the only way to achieve peace is to foster trust between the global powers, among whom he named the United States, China, Russia, and India. Many of the experts agreed that it is political struggle that has caused many of the challenges facing the world today, including terrorism and extremism.

Despite the difficult period the world finds itself in, we must continue to believe that every problem should have a solution. While it was always going to be a difficult task to provide concrete answers to every challenge facing our planet, some constructive proposals were voiced during the forum. Just as with a common theme for why the world is facing instability, common solutions were put forward by many of the speakers – closer cooperation between states, constructive dialogue between players in the international arena and tighter integration. The latter of the solutions was especially prominent during the discussions on Brexit, with Kazakh Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov noting that “Kazakhstan is strongly pro-integration. The world has not produced any better integration model than the European Union.”

If dialogue and closer cooperation is indeed the answer to many of today’s problems, then Kazakhstan has an important role to play. Situated between Asia and Europe, our nation can act as a bridge between East and West. The country has already been playing its part in facilitating resolutions to the Syrian crisis, the Ukrainian conflict and the issue of the Iranian nuclear programme. Kazakhstan has also been a prominent supporter of closer economic integration through the Eurasian Economic Union and China’s New Silk Road initiative. As a nation that has good relations with all its neighbours, as well as with the European Union and the United States, Kazakhstan can and should play a pivotal role in facilitating cooperation and dialogue between different states and political blocs.

So what did we learn from the discussions that took place during this three-day forum? During challenging and uncertain periods, it is absolutely essential to come together and cooperate on resolving global issues. As Dariga Nazarbayeva, the Deputy Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, who is also the chair of the EAMF Organising Committee, said during the closing ceremony of the EAMF: “No country is able to survive in isolation.” It is only through open and honest discussions that we can start moving towards finding common solutions.

The Eurasian Media Forum played its part in this endeavour this year and will surely continue to do so in the future.

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