Statement by SRSG Natalia Gherman at RECCA Conference

Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Central Asia, the Head of the UN Regional Center for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA) Ms. Natalia Gherman

15 Nov 2017

Statement by SRSG Natalia Gherman at RECCA Conference

ASHGABAT, 14-15 November 2017


Your Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to participate at the seventh edition of the Regional Economic Conference on Afghanistan and thank the Turkmen side for the excellent organization of our work.

Since 2005 RECCA has turned into a leading platform for regional engagement on cross-border economic cooperation. It proved to be a successful project due to its adaptability to global, regional and domestic changes, while providing a venue for coordinated investment and taking advantage of emerging opportunities.

This year we have convened in the atmosphere of positive dynamics and advanced cooperation between five Central Asian states and their renewed commitment to offer regional mechanisms of interaction to Afghanistan in order to reach concrete results for the Afghan people. This process is combined with the economic complementarity, cultural and civilizational proximity of the countries concerned. Demonstrated efforts of Central Asian countries to adapt and modernize domestic institutional settings to new realities and challenges deserve appreciation and steadfast support. I would like to mention in particular tangible progress in delimitation and demarcation of joint borders, facilitating movement of people and goods, transportation and communications routes.

The Central Asian states have been consistently stressing that the long-term stabilization of Afghanistan can be achieved through socio-economic development of the country. As we heard today, each Central Asian state has been consistently undertaking concrete steps in this direction, notably in infrastructural projects, capacity building, humanitarian assistance and other areas.

However, development of transport corridors, trade opportunities and other cross-border economic activities cannot be disconnected from the need to counter all forms of organized crime. Enhanced regional efforts are needed to improve border management and strengthen counter narcotics, law enforcement and customs policies.

Economic prosperity and stability is closely linked to improvement of security in the broader region. In this regard, RECCA complements other regional initiatives which aim at enhancing regional security through a comprehensive set of confidence building measures.

These processes have been encouraged and supported by the United Nations and our dialogue today is at the level of openness and interaction unseen before.

I am honored to lead one of the UN’s special political missions- the UNRCCA- that was established 10 years ago at the initiative of five Central Asian states to use the UN platform inside the region in order to address existing and potential threats to peace and stability in the region.

We have been supporting all foreign policy initiatives of the Central Asian states aimed at enhancing good-neighborly relations and settling emerging tensions by means of negotiations.

Responding to some of the most urgent necessities of the region, the UNRCCA will continue to support the countries in countering the threats of terrorism, radicalization, violent extremism which are the main threats to economic development of the region. The UNRCCA will continue to act as the UN coordinator for the implementation of the Global Counter-terrorism Strategy and its specific Action Plan for Central Asia.

Together with Central Asian countries and International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea (IFAS) we are involved in preventing potentially tense situations in the field of trans-boundary water management and assist our partners in reaching agreements on fair, sustainable and efficient use of natural resources.

As you can see, the UNRCCA is very well placed to promote regional cooperation between the Central Asian states and Afghanistan in these and other areas of the mandate.

We proceed from the premise that addressing the root causes of potential threats by constructive cooperation on economic sustainability, employment opportunities, cross-border exchanges and connectivity - is the best investment in preventive diplomacy.

From that point of view, the vision and underlying objectives of the UNRCCA and RECCA are complementary. Therefore, the UNRCCA will continue to promote synergy with RECCA, the Heart of Asia Istanbul Process and other regional cooperation platforms.

We have been consistently engaging our Afghan counterparts in activities related to countering cross border crime and capacity building. Afghanistan, as one of the states located in the Aral Sea basin, is already participating in all trans boundary water management activities organized by the UNRCCA. We are determined to consolidate this cooperation and contribute to building trust and understanding between countries and peoples in the region.

It is only by prioritizing peace as a mindset and collective action, that nations begin to translate their national interests into the sense of a regional community and full potential for economic prosperity.

Let me conclude by quoting UNSG Antonio Guterres:  “Trillions of dollars are spent destroying societies and economies, fueling cycles of mistrust and fear that can last for generations. Whole regions are destabilized and the new threat of global terrorism affects us all. All that we strive for as a human family - dignity and hope, progress and prosperity - depends on peace. But peace depends on us”.

I thank you.