А. SEIFERT: "Diplomats Should Check Up Their Compasses"

A famous German researcher, an expert in Central Asia Doctor Arne Seifert commented on current issues of Central Asian region. 
On the Situation In the Region

I think, that politicians still emphasize the categories like “alliance”, “Great Game”, “popularity”, etc. For me these categories are the remains of the former cold war or the signs of a new one. Unfortunately, the last idea can’t be denied. Many negative aspects of the recent years that have arisen in international policy are connected with the intension to hegemony. And these political motives should be considered. But also it is important to understand that they are aggravating the situation, inciting new confrontations and leading to dead-end. The utmost example of such a dead-end is the situation of NATO in Afghanistan and the collapse of the so-called Western anti-terror strategy towards Islamic world.

In addition, these ideas simply don’t correspond to the current reality. The world is not unipolar anymore. Except for the USA, there is the European Union, Russia still plays a significant part, China, India, Japan are developing rapidly, new international financial giants are emerging. This new quality demands new ideas within international and regional affairs.

In this respect, prevailing criteria of international and regional behavior should comprise balancing approaches.

That is why, I underline cooperation and peaceful coexistence as key categories.

Further criteria include the assurance of fruitful conditions for strengthening of the young states of Central Asia, for the development of their economic base, prevention of conflicts between them and settlement of environmental threats. Considering these criteria demonstrates us how strongly the real situation within regional cooperation is falling behind. I think that Central Asia hasn’t yet acknowledged, what a great chance and potential are comprised in targeted development of Eurasian area and promotion of cooperation. The alliances in the region should be established on this ground.
On Relation Between West, Russia and Central Asia

I believe that the term “West” should be implied with a specific caution. Strategic intentions of the USA and Europe towards Central Asia and Russia don’t always match.

It happens because Eurasian area is of diverse value for Europe and the USA. I think that in general Europe strives to establish good relations with all the states of the region. It also concerns for good relations between these states.

This kind prospect for these relations should be promoted strategically and gradually. Those recent zigzags have proved only the opposite. Obviously, it is a time for European, Russian and Central Asian diplomats to check up their compasses for the further way of their interrelations. Current situation is negative for everybody.
On Peacemaking in Afghanistan

Let me compare the International community approaches in Tajikistan and Afghanistan. Naturally, the kind of comparison is conventional, but still I observe some fundamental distinctions. The settlement of the civil war in Tajikistan is the successful sample of foreign forces peacemaking, at the same time NATO intervention in Afghanistan is absolutely the opposite. Within Tajikistani situation, the motive of the UNO and the neighboring states was a peacebuilding. In Afghanistan the motivation of foreign parties is defined by the so-called anti-terror strategy, arising from NATO doctrine, that the organization possesses the right for armed intervention to assure the safety of its members in any point of the world. But this concept turns NATO into a party to a conflict, instead of a peacemaker. Thus, NATO’s members become a part of a problem.

That’s why this block can’t be neutral. It’s not enough for NATO in Afghanistan simply to defeat Taliban. The block wants to win in order to keep its front going. But military intervention is not the key. The settlement of Afghanistan issue is possible only by political means.

For example, with the initiative under a new UNO mandate.

This initiative could particularly differ with the following outlines:

  1. The return of the supreme right of Afghanistan problems settlement into the competence of the Sovereign State of Afghanistan;
  2. The reestablishment of universal responsibility of the UNO to guarantee international security, including Afghanistan conflict settlement.;
  3. The determination of principles and mechanisms for internal stabilization;
  4. The determination of the political future of Afghanistan;
  5. The revival of Afghan economy;
  6. The determination of issues concerning legal treatment of war criminals;
  7. The maintenance of transition period and consolidation;
  8. The establishment of international contact group with expansion of regional context of Afghan settlement. Ultimately, the following states should gain an important role in the process of state unification: Central Asian neighbors, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, China.

The founders of this initiative may be involved permanent and non-permanent members of the Security Council, members of regional organizations as OSCE, SCO, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and individual states.

Arne Clemens Seifert
– professional diplomat and orientalist. In 1964-1990 worked in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in German Democratic Republic, occupied various diplomatic positions including the position of the Ambassador to Kuwait. In 1996-97 headed the political department in OSCE mission in Tajikistan. The author of the book “Reconciling Europe and Islam in the OSCE's Euro-Asiatic Regions,” and " Requirements for the Settlement of Conflicts in Transformation Societies – Reflections on the Conflict in Tajikistan ". At the moment he is an Ambassador in retirement, speaker and one of the founders of the German diplomats initiative “Diplomats for Peace in the Islamic World”.
Translated from Asia-Plus