The consultative meeting of the heads of Central Asian countries in Dushanbe was unprecedented in terms of the number of side meetings. As a result, five documents were signed.
Experts of the countries of the region point to a positive process in the community of countries, but they do not have an optimistic view of the regional integrity.
The informal meeting of the Central Asian countries, which took place on September 15 in Dushanbe, was the fifth meeting and ended the first round of talks at such a level. The holding of the meeting against the background of the war between Russia and Ukraine, the confrontation between the West and China, and the rise of geopolitical conflicts made it interesting.
According to experts, the tension between the countries of the region among geopolitical forces should lead to institutionalization of regional cooperation. From this point of view, certain expert circles were expecting unprecedented decisions from the informal meeting in Dushanbe.
Although the results of this meeting did not fulfill all the expectations of the supporters of regional integration, it once again confirmed the direction of the leaders of the regional countries in the direction of rapprochement and expansion of cooperation.
Presentation of the participants and results of the meeting
The official part of the conversation was devoted to issues of security, climate change and cooperation in water, electricity and transportation. The heads of the countries reported on a number of initiatives to expand economic cooperation, talk about security, reach a common position regarding Afghanistan, expand economic cooperation, attract investment in the water and electricity sector, etc.
Experts point to the approval of the regulations of the Council of National Coordinators for the consultative meetings of the heads of the Central Asian countries as an important step in the institutionalization of cooperation. In addition to this document, the following cases were also approved in this session:
- Joint statement at the end of this meeting;
- Agreement on strengthening land transport relations in Central Asia;
- Agreement on overall strengthening of youth policy;
- Work plan on general direction of youth policy;
- Work plan to promote health and well-being in Central Asia for 2022-2025.
“After the Dushanbe meeting, it can be said that the meeting was successful in some aspects, but in some aspects it was not completely successful. Our expectations were not fully met, but nevertheless there were interesting statements that create certain hopes that countries with more preparation for important decisions to be made at the next meeting,” says Farhod Tolipov, a political scientist from Uzbekistan.
He calls Mirziyoyev’s proposal to hold permanent meetings as a good example.
A move towards integration?
Politician Sherali Rezayon writes in his article about the Dushanbe meeting that for the first time on the sidelines of this meeting, close to 50 events, from expert meetings to discussions at the level of ministers of the participating countries, were held. He believes that this is a sign of the seriousness of the countries’ intention in the direction of regional cooperation.
“..The meeting in Dushanbe showed that the countries are not in a hurry to create a regional institution and have benefited from their past experience. As the structuring of the regional integration template in the 90s of the 20th century shows that if the basis for real cooperation and convergence of the wishes and interests of the countries is not created, the best ideas and actions will not bear fruit,” the expert emphasizes.
As an example, he points to the Union of Central Asia in 1994, which later changed to the Economic Community of Central Asia and then became the Organization of the Central Asian Community, which completely disappeared in 2005.
Common interests and conflicts
One of the features of this meeting was the participation of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, who invited the countries of Central Asia to use the transport infrastructure of his country.
Politician Parviz Mullojonov says that the heads of the countries of the region carefully assess their capabilities and do not strive for rapid integration.
“We did not see any unprecedented decisions at the end of the meeting. They are still in the process of agreeing on a general solution for transport routes, but specific solutions are not yet visible. In general, the positions of the countries of the region are different, they look at integration from different perspectives and there is a need to look at Moscow as well,” says the expert.
Experts call the main factor of unity and at the same time of conflict in Central Asia the issue of the use of water and electricity infrastructure, transportation and the position of countries in relation to Afghanistan (including the issue of the construction of the Kushtepa canal on the Omu River, which threatens the security of at least three countries).
At the last meeting, all these topics were raised as opportunities for regional cooperation. Referring to the topic of the construction of the Kushtepa canal, the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan proposed to create a contact group at the level of special representatives for Afghanistan in order to create a harmonious dialogue with the Afghan side on the issue of border security, water use and trade.
Farhod Tolipov emphasizes that such an initiative is the result of the preliminary meeting of the heads of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan and was announced within the framework of the Dushanbe declaration. “Such joint work gives us the opportunity to hope that the countries of the region will peacefully come closer to creating a joint position regarding the water and Afghanistan problems,” our interlocutor speculates.
Source : Радио Озоди