Stonger multilateral cooperation, access to vaccines: CICA ministerial meeting concludes in Nur-Sultan
The sixth meeting of foreign ministers of the Conference on Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) concluded in Kazakh capital Nur-Sultan gathering representatives of 23 out of 27 member states, observer states, and international organizations, reports a Strategy2050.kz correspondent.
As Kazakhstan chairs the organization, the theme of the meeting was “Security and Sustainable Development in Asia in New Realities of the Post-Pandemic World”.
The meeting adopted the updated CICA Catalogue of Confidence Building Measures and the CICA Council of Eminent Persons.
Opening the meeting, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Akan Rakhmetullin read out a statement to the participants from Kazakhstan’s First President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who proposed the idea to establish CICA back in 1992.
In his address, Nazarbayev noted the growing influence of the organization with its main goal to bring countries closer and build trust within the region.
Situation in Afghanistan
The situation in Afghanistan was also on the meeting agenda with parties emphasizing the importance of joint efforts.
The welcoming statement of the UN Secretary-General António Guterres was read out by the head of the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy in Central Asia Natalia German.
In his address, Guterres emphasized the crucial role that CICA member states can play in assisting Afghanistan and helping the country restore stability and safety.
The withdrawal of the U.S. troops from Afghanistan poses risks for the country, including the weapons that were left, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
“NATO's hasty departure has further tightened the tangle of Afghan contradictions. They left many weapons and military equipment in the country. It is important to prevent their use for destructive purposes. The Taliban said they would fight drug trafficking and terrorism, would not project instability onto neighboring states, and would work to create an inclusive government. We hope these promises are kept,” said Lavrov.
According to Rakhmetullin, the Afghan crisis demonstrated the importance of strengthening confidence-building measures and the collective responsibility among Asian countries.
"It is clear that achieving true progress in addressing global and regional security challenges without strengthening trust and cooperation is an elusive task. In accordance with the priorities of Kazakhstan's CICA chairmanship, we intend to make every effort to strengthen security, peace, economic, social, and cultural development in the CICA space," he said.
Expanding global access to vaccines
The sides also stressed the need for expanding global access to vaccines and moving away from vaccine nationalism to vaccine multilateralism. Speaking at the meeting, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said his country advocates for “the vision of building a community of common health for mankind” and believes that vaccines should be a “global public good.”
Wang Yi said that China, the world’s leading vaccine manufacturer, has provided more than 1.4 billion doses of vaccines to the international community, and will supply additional 100 million doses of vaccines to other developing countries in 2021.
Need for greater multilateral cooperation
“Today, after almost three decades, CICA is an effective forum for multilateral diplomacy," said Rakhmetullin, noting its increasingly important role as the countries are facing new challenges, including ensuring epidemiological, medical, and food security.
He underscored the importance of the initiative to transform the CICA into a full-fledged international organization, which he believes would foster political dialogue between CICA members, increase the effectiveness of the implementation of confidence-building measures in Asia, and address common challenges to global and regional security.
Lavrov also suggested facilitating cooperation between regional platforms.
“In particular, ties are being established between the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). All these platforms rely on solid legal frameworks and a network of cooperation mechanisms. (...) The SCO, the EAEU, and ASEAN are active in forging dynamic ties with their neighbors and other countries. This paves the way for the Greater Eurasian Partnership,” he said, noting that CICA could also play a role offering its expert and practical resources.
Kazakhstan proposes to extend its chairmanship for 2022-2024
During the meeting, the delegations commended Kazakhstan’s chairmanship and welcomed the accession of Turkmenistan to the CICA as an observer state.
“Kazakhstan tries to establish the system of collective security under the CICA. Kazakhstan is a reliable partner in terms of achieving peace in the region. It acts as a mediator for countries, including in the Afghan dialogue. We would like to say that Qatar is also inter,” said Qatar’s Deputy Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani.
Rakhmetullin announced Kazakhstan’s proposal to extend its chairmanship for 2022-2024, saying that Kazakhstan will continue working to strengthen CICA potential, and transform it into an effective platform for interconnected cooperation and dialogue.
He said that Kazakhstan is open to dialogue on all issues related to the CICA activities.
During the meeting, the parties engaged in a constructive exchange of views on the most pressing issues of international and regional agenda, the current state, and prospects of cooperation among the member states in priority areas of cooperation within the CICA.
The parties agreed to continue active joint work within the framework of the meeting and welcomed Kazakhstan's intention to hold the 6th CICA Summit in 2022.