Peace, security and stability in the region by means of mutual cooperation

By Andrew Slov

The Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia, or CICA, is an Asian inter-governmental security forum that covers nearly entire Asian continent.  (Its 22 member states represent nearly 90% of the area and population of Asia. Current members are: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, the People's Republic of China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Palestine, South Korea, Russia, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan. Observer countries and organizations are: Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Qatar, Ukraine, USA; United Nations, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and League of Arab States.) The CICA was initiated by Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev in his speech to the UN General Assembly in 1992.

Although it was established in early 90s, genuine CICA activities started after the 1st Summit held in 2002. Somewhat sluggish CICA progress in 90s caused occasional skepticism about the organization durability. However, eventually CICA became a rather dynamic organization that deals with a broad range of security challenges.

The CICA's main purpose is to promote peace, security and stability in the region by means of mutual cooperation. As CICA includes states that experience deep political problems in their relations (Pakistan and India, Iran and Israel), the organization avoids discussing certain political issues. However, many international organizations that unite diverse states encounter with the same challenge. Bearing in mind that Asia is a very diverse continent with significant religious, political and economic differences, relative modest progress of CICA is natural.

Being  a platform for each state concerns to be considered is of CICA's great value. As Tuncay Babali points out, CICA's the notable feature is confidence-building measures (CBMs),  not necessarily hard-core security issues at first  (In contrast to the  Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), or the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).). Indeed, it uses soft power instead.

CICA includes five confidence-building dimensions (http://www.s-cica.org/index.html, http://www.cicaistanbul.org/pages/about_cica_page.html):
•    the economic dimension;
•    the environmental dimension;
•    the human dimension;
•    fighting against new challenges and threats  including terrorism, drug trafficking, trans-national crime, and human trafficking;
•    the military-political dimension.

During the first CICA summit in 2002 members adopted Almaty Act as its one of the basic documents. The states committed to respect and put into practice in their relations with each other, regardless of of their political, economic or social systems as well as of their size, geographical location and level of economic development, the following principles of fundamental significance:
1. Sovereign equality, respect for rights inherent in sovereignty
2. Refraining from the threat or use of force.
3. Territorial integrity of the Member States.
4. Peaceful settlement of disputes.
5. Non-intervention in internal affairs.
6. Economic, social and cultural cooperation
7. Human rights and fundamental freedoms

The following CICA summit was held in 2006 in the same place. It was marked by the establishment of the CICA Secretariat, standing administrative organ responsible for implementing member-states decision.

A growing number of member-states, an expanding international staff and growing recognition  (During the third Meeting of CICA Ministers of Foreign Affairs in Almaty in 2008 UN Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki-moon said that the "emergence of CICA has paralleled the dynamic development of Asia.") proved the existence of premises for CICA to become an influential organization replicating the OSCE on the Asian continent. The third CICA summit in Turkey consolidated the achievement of the  Kazakh diplomacy.
On June 6 – 9, 2010 for the first time, the CICA summit took place outside Kazakhstan, with the chairmanship baton being passed to Turkey for the next two years. Such a development seems to be logical: Ankara plays an active role in establishing new security strategies on a regional level and consistently supported Kazakhstan's efforts in turning CICA in an effective platform.

Issues on Istanbul agenda included discussions over the meaning of Turkey's "no" vote at the UN Security Council on new round of sanctions against Iran, the war in Afghanistan and instability in Iraq, reset policy with Russia and others.

The gathering of the leaders from about 40 countries across Eurasia and the Middle East  was overshadowed due to the Gaza flotilla crisis. Turkey's FM Ahmet Davutoglu stated that the normalization of relations between Turkey and Israel will depend on Israel accepting an International inquiry on the raid, which Israel had rejected.  (Turkey calls for International inquiry to Israel Flotilla raid at the Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) Summit. National Turk. June, 8.) Nursultan Nazarbayev pointed out that the  'risk of incidents like the one we witnessed last week in the Eastern Mediterranean' can be diminished by enhancing implementation of the military-political CBMs.

In general, Kazakhstan highly appreciated the  3rd CICA Summit results.  (Permanent Mission of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Web-page names the 3rd CICA Summit a 'huge step forward' for the Nazrbayev's initiative.) In the joint declaration issued at the end of the 3rd CICA summit the member states committed to disarmament, non-proliferation, efforts to establish Nuclear-Weapons-Free zones, combating and eradicating the illicit trade and trafficking of small arms and light weapons (SALW), tackling catastrophes caused by climate change, economic co-operation and cultural exchanges promotion.  (Declaration of the Third CICA Summit (2001). CICA Web-page. Accessed on June,30 at http://www.s-cica.org/page.php?page_id=122&lang=1&parent_id=12)

The CICA chairmanship 2010 – 2012 fits very well into Turkey's foreign strategy of zero problems with neighbors.  (What Can Turkey Get Out of CICA? Gulay Kilic. The journal Turkish weekly. June 25, 2010.). This concept is based on the idea of mutual interdependence between states that would repel the likelihood of hostile actions. In fact, joint Turkey-Brasil initiative of an  Iranian nuclear exchange reflects the very ideas of Turkish foreign policy. (Id.)

Turkish CICA Chairmanship designation is "Enhanced Political and Security Dialogue in Asia: Key to Elaborating Cooperative Approaches to Security". It reflects the idea of f "Non-Zero-Sum Game" tools and models of cooperation in Eurasia.  (Tuncay Babali. Rise of Eurasianism through institutions: the CICA as the OSCE of EurasiaThe Huffington post. June 25, 2010)

Turkey should make CICA to become a more mature structure, developing further the interactions among the diverse states in the areas of diplomacy, economic fora, academic and student exchange programs. In order to make Asia a peaceful and secure continent CICA should cooperate with other regional and sub-regional organizations and fora, such as ACEAN or SCO. Kazakhstan as the CICA founder, acting OSCE chairman and 2011 Organization of the Islamic Conference term president can potentially become a moderator of systemic interaction between various organizations.
Until CICA was established in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Asia did not have any inter-state formation like the OSCE in Europe  (What Can Turkey Get Out of CICA? Gulay Kilic. The journal Turkish weekly. June 25, 2010). CICA bears obvious similarities and connections with the OSCE. CICA and OSCE have similar dimensional structures, decisions in both are taken by consensus and implemented on a voluntary basis. Both organizations  have similar aims, in terms of developing economic, cultural and social interactions among members.

Meanwhile CICA  is not that well organized or structured as the OSCE. Hence OSCE's rich experience in implementing CBMs is valuable and highly beneficial for the CICA.

The Kazakhstan OSCE chairmanship in 2010 gives the state a unique chance in deepen interaction between the two organizations. "Cooperation and interaction between the CICA and OSCE should be transformed into a continental security platform", Nursultan Nazarbayev  said at the recent summit. He also invited  to discuss the establishment of the OSCE – CICA Forum. Besides, Mr. Nazarbayev noted the importance of working relations with SCO, OIC, and the Central Asian Regional Informational and Coordination for Center for combating the illicit trafficking of drugs (CARICC).

Besides, the day before the summit a special event on  security and economic co-operation in Eurasia was organized by the Kazakh OSCE chairmanship. "We think the OSCE and CICA, as the largest regional alliances of Eurasia, should redouble their efforts to develop economic co-operation in the interest of all participating States", Kazakh FM Kanat Saudabayev noted.

He named Afghanistan as a promising area of co-operation between the two organizations. "Afghanistan's authorities need a firm support in the socio-economic rehabilitation and the democratic development of the country”, Mr. Saudabayev stated.  – It is natural that such support should emanate in the first place from the partners of Afghanistan in the OSCE and the CICA", he added.

It should be mentioned that Turkey contributed significantly to the promotion of  Afghanistan –  Pakistan relations against extremist Islamists that passed through the joint border.
Taking into account 2010 chairmanship in the OSCE, increased role of the CICA and ongoing development of Customs Union with Russia, this is a unique time span for Kazakhstan to consolidate its position on the international stage. Similarly, by means of the CICA, the OSCE and the CIS  (The CIS states are: Russia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Moldova. The CIS holds a a privileged place in Russia’s foreign policy. It was created on Russia´s initiative as a means to preserve linkages between the former Soviet states – as well as to maintain its dominant position in the region.  During its term presidency in 2010 Russia plans to promote new initiatives. Since the establishment of the Eurasian Economic Community in 2001, Russia has been striving to develop a common economic space between members.). Turkey and Russia can use their cooperation and relations to solve existing problems in the region.

Joint efforts of  Turkey, Kazakhstan and Russia, which have coincidentally assumed the term presidencies of three different institutions in the same year (CICA, OSCE and CIS correspondingly) can make a systemic breakthrough in achieving more stable development of Eurasia. The year 2010 offers enormous opportunities for the three states to show their ability to solve existing problems, specifically problems related to security and stability in Asia.  (Three critical term presidencies in Asia: Turkey-CICA, Kazakhstan-OSCE, Russia-CIS. by Muharrem Eksi. Today's Zaman February, 3.)

With Turkey-CICA, Kazakhstan-OSCE and Russia-Kazakhstan Customs Union its reasonable to suppose the cooperation among the three countries would grow. Turkey and Kazakhstan signed a  strategic partnership agreement in September 2007, while Turkey and Russia have been working on strategic partnership since 2003.

Increased trade volume made Russia Turkey’s biggest foreign trade partner, and the trade volume between Turkey and Kazakhstan increased eight-fold between 2003 and 2009. (Id)

Kazakhstan is strategically important to Russia, as the two states share the longest continuous border between any two nations in the world without roper definition and border control. Russia accounts  for 70 to 80 percent of Kazakhstan’s foreign trade and is central to Kazakh national defense.

Though recently the EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton expressed her concern regarding the Customs Union  ("We have no issues with customs unions in general. European Union is a customs union. But we are concerned when those hinder trade rather than promoting it. That appears to be the case with the proposed customs union", Catherine Ashton announced on June 16, speaking to MEPs on results of the EU-Russian Summit in Rostov-na-Donu (May 31 – June 1).), Russia considers the Customs Union to be based on the  main principles of the WTO.

Russia's aim is to create a single economic space with the EU and a common economic space with Belarus and Kazakhstan simultaneously, first Russia's prime-minister Igor Shuvalov said at the conference “Russia and CIS: on the way towards globalization” on June 28, 2010. Basic economic institutions and legislation would be identical in the EU and Russia, but in the latter they would fall under the competence of the sovereign institutions. “If everything goes smoothly, then starting from January 1, 2012 two systems of single economic space will come into existence, the EU, and the Customs Union that would unite three states with their supra-national organs. The establishment of the Customs Union Commission on January 1, 2010 with national competences transferred in the area of customs duties, customs regulation measures marked the first stage of the Customs Union creation. The course of the second stage will be determined in Astana on July 5, when the decision will be made whether it will include Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, or Russian and Kazakhstan”, Igor Shuvalov noted.

In recent years the CIS had been dysfunctional for various reasons and a breakdown in CIS relations was observed. That was mainly caused by the problems between CIS member countries. Central Asian States gradually extended cooperative relations with other international actors, forcing and Russia to focus on bilateral relations with CIS member states. Currently, holding the CIS presidency Russia intends to give the organization  renewed impetus.

Igor Shuvalov clearly stated that the CIS is moving to the new qualitative stage with the Russia-Kazakhstan-Belarus Customs Union. “Over the last years we witnessed many inquires and disputes on the CIS future, the Russia's future in the CIS, on how well the CIS could be adopted towards other integration processes. We act on the premise that the CIS will get absolutely new development with the formation of the Customs union between Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan”, he said at the aforementioned event.

The three organizations are expected to assume a more active and constructive role in solving the problems on the continent, namely in Afghanistan, Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Georgia.

Bearing in mind Turkey's membership in the North-Atlantic Alliance, the CICA-OSCE-CIS triangle is expected to intensify Russia-NATO and Russia-USA relations in dealing with the security challenges in Central Asia, particularly in Afghanistan.