SRSG Miroslav Jenča speaks at the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council Security Forum
I would like to thank the Kazakh authorities and NATO representatives for excellent organization of such an event and I am pleased to convey my greetings to the participants of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) Security Forum.
Since the UNRCCA has been established relatively recently I would like to say a few words about it. The Centre was inaugurated in Ashgabat in December 2007 and started to operate in June 2008. The UNRCCA has a strong and unique regional role, supported by all the five Central Asia states, to address threats and challenges faced by the region. The UNRCCA in its plan of action has identified several clusters of priority areas for Central Asia related to water/energy nexus; cross-border threats associated with illicit activities such as terrorism, organized crime and drug trafficking; and impact of the situation in Afghanistan.
The establishment of the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia demonstrates the UN's strong will to support peace, security and prosperity in the Central Asia region which cannot be achieved without comprehensive cross border co-operation.
We all know the serious challenges the region faces. At the same time Central Asia deserves to be applauded resolving differences through dialog and cooperation. I would like to underline a few positive steps which are related to regional co-operation and which took place in Central Asia during this year.
The UNRCCA welcomes entering into force in March this year of the treaty on a nuclear weapon-free zone in Central Asia. The treaty was ratified by all the five CA states, which demonstrates a clear commitment to address the greatest potential threat to human security. The UNRCCA encourages the Central Asian states to cooperate with different UN agencies and other international organizations in the practical implementation of the treaty.
Another important step was the establishment of the Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Centre for Combating Illicit Trafficking of Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and their Precursors (CARICC). On 22 March 2009 the agreement between Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Azerbaijan on the establishment of CARICC entered into force after it was ratified by the majority of the Parliaments of those states.
The CARICC could serve as an example of a regional structure working under UN auspices with the purpose of coordinating the efforts of member-states in combating illicit trafficking of drugs, exchanging information, establishing collaboration mechanisms between competent bodies and organizing joint operations involving law-enforcement structures of state-members.
Taking into consideration the important role of the CARICC in the coordination of activities of law enforcement agencies of the Central Asia states, the UNRCCA is going to continue providing political support to the work of this organization.
However, notwithstanding these positive steps, there is still a lot of work to be done to achieve a coordinated border policing, intelligence information sharing and adoption of coordination mechanisms in the region. The overall situation in CA remains challenging and factors affecting stability are increasing.
In the context of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy in Central Asia the UNRCCA is planning to have series of seminars on antiterrorism issues which should lead to a ministerial meeting and adoption of comprehensive strategy in the Central Asia region.
I want to draw special attention to the situation in Afghanistan. Instability and unpredictability in Afghanistan have had implications in the past not only for Tajikistan which shares more than 1,500 kilometers of border, but also for all the countries of the region. Instability in Afghanistan is a substantial source for threats from extremism, terrorism, and organized trafficking of arms and drugs in the region.
The stabilization and reconstruction of Afghanistan will provide Central Asia with an opportunity for increased cooperation over electricity, gas, roads, pipelines, hydro electric power and water management, equipment, technology transfer, agriculture know-how and technical support.
At the same it has been stressed by different interlocutors in Kabul and in the Central Asian capitals that the level of current engagement of the Central Asia states in the stabilization process in Afghanistan is still not corresponding to their serious potential.
Now the momentum is building for Central Asia states to increase their support efforts related to Afghanistan. The UNRCCA will seek to highlight the role Central Asia states can play and are playing in stabilizing and reconstruction of the war-torn country. Specifically, it plans to organize activities that would emphasize the positive role and impact that Central Asia can have in terms of assistance, investments, cooperation projects, infrastructure, economic development, reconciliation process, experience exchange, and capacity-building.
Another challenge is climate change which affects Central Asia more than some other parts in the world. Global warming causes increased irregularities in water supply in the region and leads to unusual water patterns. A serious drought combined with an extremely cold winter could result in a combined water-energy-food crisis, as was the case in 2008.
An increased shortage of water is already noticeable and becomes a root cause for tensions in Central Asia. Downstream countries are pressured by drastic soil degradation and inefficient water use on the one hand and an increased demand for agriculture products on the other hand. It is impossible to overcome these challenges without regional cooperation. Long term solutions to disputes over water management regimes must become a national security priority for the governments of Central Asia.
The UNRCCA calls for dialog in the process leading to the identification of mechanisms for the management of water/energy resources which all would benefit from. It is important to facilitate and promote the search for a common approach to resource management issues. In April this year the UNRCCA conducted a seminar in Almaty on legal aspects of trans-boundary water management. The event was organized to facilitate the search for a common approach to water resources management issues in CA by creating a dynamic leading to sustainable solutions.
All these challenges are reinforced by the global financial crisis. In times of recession, it is important to coordinate activities in the distribution of water and energy, development of transport and communications and promotion of food security. The global financial crisis should serve as an important incentive for the states in Central Asia to consolidate joint efforts aimed at stability and security in the region.
The UNRCCA along with other international organizations are ready to assist the Central Asian states in this process.