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Oct 14, 2021
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Big game for big gain?

US seeks locations for new bases in Central Asia

At the meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) held on October 12 in Nur-Sultan, President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev made several important statements that can be considered as an attempt to regain leadership positions in the region, including including on the settlement of the situation in Afghanistan.

Recall that the CICA was created on the initiative of Kazakhstan in 1992 at the 47th session of the UN General Assembly with the aim of ensuring peace and stability in Asia. The basis of the CICA policy is the principle of the rule of law, non-interference in the internal affairs of the member states, their economic, social and cultural interaction. The strategic goal of the CICA is to expand cooperation with the aim of strengthening peace, security and stability in Asia.

Today, 27 states of the region are members of the forum, 9 more countries and 5 international organizations are participating in the work as observers. The last meeting was attended by the Foreign Ministers of Bahrain, Belarus, India, Qatar, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Russia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, the Minister of Tourism of Israel, as well as deputy heads of foreign affairs agencies of a number of countries, heads of international organizations and diplomatic missions. The forum discussed issues of the economy, climate change, pandemic, water and food security.

Tokayev focused on several key positions. First of all, he drew attention to the consistency of the CICA and the need to “achieve a strategic goal – transforming the structure into a full-fledged international organization”, which, in his opinion, “Will highlight the new role of Asia in global affairs”

The President of Kazakhstan noted the special role of the CICA financial summit, mentioning that Kazakhstan is becoming an important player in the financial market, and “Astana International Financial Center” has become a dynamic financial platform that combines the best experience of world institutions and uses the latest tools based on English law “

The statements were supported by practical measures: the inauguration of a new office of the CICA secretariat, headed by Ambassador K. Sarybai, was adopted at the end of the meeting, a statement, an updated Catalog of Confidence Building Measures and the Regulation on the Council of Wise Men – a new advisory body of the CICA were adopted.

CICA Executive Director Ambassador K. Sarybai

CICA Executive Director Ambassador K. Sarybai

The President of the Republic of Kazakhstan paid special attention to the future 6th CICA summit, which will be held next year in Kazakhstan and which, according to Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev, is intended to determine the course “New Asia in a new world”

Emphasis was placed on the role of Asia in future international relations and the growing role of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia. “Our region is already a global center of gravity. 60% of the world’s population and about 40% of world GDP are concentrated here in purchasing power parity “, – said the President of Kazakhstan, recalling that in Asia there are “Such powerful economic formations as the EAEU, ASEAN, APEC and the Comprehensive Regional Economic Partnership”with which CICA needs to cooperate.

“XXI Century, – said Tokayev, – will really belong to Asia, if we can develop a unified and constructive approach, take on great responsibility and obligations. In this regard, as never before, we pin our hopes on the CICA as the only forum capable of shaping a new configuration of Asian security, cooperation and common prosperity. “

Tokayev was supported by Nazarbayev. He also noted that Asia “Now an important political center of the planet, which, in contrast to the concepts of global domination and the Cold War, actively promotes the principles of partnership, full rights and mutual solidarity”

The President of Kazakhstan came up with the initiative that was expected. He informed about the application of Kazakhstan to extend the term of the chairmanship in the CICA for 2022-2024 and proposed to nominate “The candidacy of the founder of the CICA, the First President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev” for the post of head of the Council of Sages.

Tokayev called the current situation in and around Afghanistan the most important task to be solved. Although the discussion of the “Afghan issue” drew attention to itself by the absence of the heads of the foreign affairs agencies of Turkey, China, Pakistan, Iran and Tajikistan, who are members of the CICA and participants in the “Afghan game”.

Indeed, for a long time Kazakhstan confidently held the Afghan settlement in its hands. Then Uzbekistan came to the fore. The sudden departure of the United States confused the cards. Ashgabat and especially Dushanbe began their games with Kabul. And then Kazakhstan recalled that the five Central Asian states are interested in “In returning Afghanistan back on track”: “Kazakhstan’s appeal is simple and clear – we strive for the Great Benefit, not the Great Game in the heart of Asia”

Meanwhile, Kazakhstan has been and remains a participant in the Great Game. Nur-Sultan conducted autonomous negotiations with Turkey during the period of “Afghan hopes of Erdogan”, conducted consultations with the United States on the placement of refugees. In September, Kazakh diplomats met with representatives of the Taliban * (the group is banned in Russia).

Meeting of the Chiefs of Staff of Central and South Asia in Nur-Sultan

Meeting of the Chiefs of Staff of Central and South Asia in Nur-Sultan

On September 14, in Nur-Sultan, a meeting of the chiefs of staff of the countries of Central and South Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, the United States, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan) was held, in which the head of the US Central Command (CENTCOM), General Kenneth McKenzie, who also met with Kazakh officials …

General Mackenzie at a meeting at the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Kazakhstan

General Mackenzie at a meeting at the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Kazakhstan

It was Mackenzie who stated that they “Busy with serious work on finding and assessing places where we would like to place potential anti-terrorist troops”, that is, new bases. The meeting seemed to end with an agreement on limited intelligence sharing regarding terrorist activities.

The Big Game for Kazakhstan is the path to the Big Benefit. Therefore, Tokayev thanked Lavrov for participating in the meeting, for promoting the CICA and for Moscow’s role in resolving the Afghan conflict. At the meeting, Lavrov spoke about NATO’s responsibility for “warming up the region.” Isn’t this a game: on one field to support Moscow, on the other to meet with NATO, on the third to build relations with the new Kabul?

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