16 March 2018 09:24
What did the Presidents of the Central Asian countries agree on in Astana?

Before this meeting, Kazakhstani experts expressed their opinion about expectations from the meeting of the Presidents of the Central Asian countries. For example, political scientist Yerlan Karin noted that "the upcoming meeting in Astana contributes to the creation of a mechanism for discussing common issues and formulating common regional agenda".

Commenting on the forthcoming working (consultative) meeting of the Heads of State of the countries of Central Asia, political analyst Kazbek Maigeldinov said that "the forthcoming meeting will focus on increasing social, economic, political, cultural and humanitarian issues between Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan. Of course, this issue can be regarded as the creation of the Central Asian Union, but this is not a main topic. The main theme is to strengthen political cooperation".

Did the forecasts of Kazakhstani experts confirm? And about what did the leaders of the Central Asian countries eventually agree? President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev told about it during a briefing.

Speaking about the issues of trade and economic cooperation between the countries of Central Asia, the President stressed the dynamic development of the region and the availability of the great potential for further growth.

"According to the UN information, over the past 10 years, the average GDP growth in Central Asia was 6.2%, significantly higher than the world average of 2.6% over the same period. The growth of foreign trade of the countries of the region was observed", the President said.

According to the Head of State, the growth of mutual trade contributed to raising the living standards of the population in the countries of Central Asia.

During the working meeting, the measures were also discussed to ensure the sustainable development of the regional economy.

"We need to work systematically in order to improve the conditions for investment cooperation and mutual protection of investors in our countries", Nursultan Nazarbayev said.

Nursultan Nazarbayev said about the necessity to expand the range of goods of mutual trade between the countries of Central Asia.

"The statistical comparison of data on our export-import operations shows that there are many opportunities in this direction", the Head of State said.

In addition, the President pointed to the need for the transition of economies to a new innovation-digital platform and also noted the importance of optimizing the tariff policy and simplifying the administrative procedures for transit traffic.

Nursultan Nazarbayev also stressed the importance of addressing the issues of using transboundary water resources on the basis of common legal positions, mutual respect and respect for the interests of all parties.

During the consultative meeting, a proposal was considered to establish a five-sided working commission at the level of vice-premiers in order to promote economic cooperation in the region.

"It is necessary to create intra-regional sources of financing for dynamic development", the President of Kazakhstan stressed.

Also the strengthening of cultural and humanitarian ties was discussed during the meeting.

"We agreed to further increase our cooperation in this direction. To develop cooperation in the scientific and educational sphere, Kazakhstan is ready to host students from the countries of the region. In the sphere of sports and tourism, we could intensify the holding of common sports events and develop combined tourist routes in Central Asia", the President of Kazakhstan told.

The leaders of the Central Asian countries also discussed the issue of economic cooperation of all Central Asian countries with the Russian Federation.

"Together, we are building the transport and logistics system of the region both in bilateral format and in the line of the EAEU. At the same time, we understand that nobody will solve our intra-regional problems for us. In this regard, we determined the basic priorities and outlined plans for the future", Nursultan Nazarbayev said.

The Head of State spoke about the results of the talks on the regional security and the situation in Afghanistan.

"All the states of Central Asia make their feasible contribution in support for the socio-economic development and political settlement in Afghanistan. We agreed to continue joint efforts in order to advance the problems of Afghanistan on international platforms. Kazakhstan as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council is conducting the active work in this direction at the international level", Nursultan Nazarbayev emphasized.

At the meeting, Kazakhstan proposed to establish a mechanism for pentagonal regular consultations between the apparatuses of the security councils of region’s countries.

"This will provide an opportunity to maintain a regular dialogue on the most important issues of the regional security, developing coordinated positions. The key direction here is the completion of works on delimitation and demarcation of borders between five countries. In this regard, the heads of delegations confirmed the need to accelerate this process in order to strengthen security and stability in our region", the Head of State explained.

Nursultan Nazarbayev was sure that the agreements reached will give a significant impetus to the cooperation of our states.

"Most importantly, we have a common understanding and desire to build up our partnership and meet each other halfway. Therefore, we agreed to hold such meetings on a regular basis on the threshold of the great Nauryz holiday for all of us on an annual basis", Nursultan Nazarbayev concluded.

The first working meeting of the leaders of the Central Asian countries was commented on by political scientist Yerlan Karin.

He noted that the negotiations on this meeting were going on until the last moment and for a long time the format, date, agenda was agreed upon. Therefore, no one was in a hurry to announce the upcoming event.

"Contrary to various forecasts describing that this meeting may not take place, it eventually took place. The fact that the meeting took place on the eve of the Nauryz holiday is not just symbolism. Binding to the holiday date on the contrary helped to coordinate the event more quickly and avoid unnecessary all sorts of conjectures about some geopolitical background of the event", Yerlan Karin commented on his Facebook page.

He also noted that although many warned that this meeting would not give any concrete decisions, but nevertheless, judging by the final statement, which was voiced by President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, the participants still worked out certain positions in certain areas.

"At the same time, the discussions concerned several topics at once: trade, security, cultural sphere, etc. As we predicted in our report "10 important events in Central Asia in 2018", we said that the success of this meeting will largely depend on how the efforts of Astana and Tashkent are coordinated, as the main organizers of this process. The President of Kazakhstan several times stressed that the initiative belonged to President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev, but at the same time, it seems that some diplomatic efforts and authority of Nursultan Nazarbayev were required for implementation. Therefore, the main result of the meeting is not the fact of the meeting itself, today we can say that the meeting was not only held but also managed to agree certain common positions and order of issues", the political scientist thought.

In his opinion, the main result is that the process of the regional dialogue was launched in Astana.

"This meeting is certainly a common success for all countries of Central Asia. This demonstrates the understanding by the leaders of Central Asia of the tasks that confront them and demonstrate their focus, a pragmatic approach to solving these problems, and also shows the formation of a common regional identity", Yerlan Karin summed up.

It should be noted that the next meeting of the leaders of the Central Asian countries will take place on the eve of the next Nauryz in Tashkent.


Saltanat Suraganova

Photo: the press service of Akorda