UNRCCA CONDUCTED ANNUAL MEETING WITH DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTERS OF CENTRAL ASIAN STATES
The ninth annual Meeting of Deputy Foreign Ministers of Central Asian states, convened by the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA), took place in Tashkent on 14 December 2019. The meeting brought together the Deputy Foreign Ministers of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. As part of the C5+1 format established by UNRCCA in December 2017, the Deputy Foreign Minister of Afghanistan also took part in the discussion devoted to the cooperation between Central Asia and Afghanistan.
In her opening statement the Special Representative of Secretary-General for Central Asia, Natalia Gherman pointed out that “the meeting is taking place in a regional environment in which Central Asia is enjoying positive dynamics and ever-greater political will for expanding regional cooperation. The Summit of Central Asian states that took place in this city just few days ago on 29 November is a strong manifestation of this trend. Indeed, one of the main points of the Joint Statement of the Summit was to encourage closer regional interaction at a variety of levels and I hope you will agree that today’s meeting is in line with that vision”.
The event provided an opportunity to exchange views on challenges in Central Asia and ways to address them. Particular attention was paid to extremism and terrorism, water/energy nexus, connectivity and socioeconomic development. Participants explored ways on how the UN Regional Centre could further support efforts of the countries in the region, including finding long term solutions in trans-boundary water management, improving cybersecurity, the return of foreign terrorist fighters and increasing role of women and youth in public life. Participants underlined increased cooperation and trust in the region, including closer interaction with Afghanistan, which is seen by all Central Asian states more as an opportunity rather than a threat. Deputy Foreign Ministers provided concrete examples of projects with Afghanistan which provides concrete benefits to all parties involved.
During this event, UNRCCA also arranged the first-ever regional dialogue between the Deputy Foreign Ministers and young people of Central Asian states and Afghanistan. Young people had an opportunity to present their views on how the region could benefit from closer contacts among youth and their involvement in policy making. The dialogue was the culmination of this year’s initiative of UNRCCA, called “Preventive Diplomacy Academy”, aimed at fostering culture of preventive diplomacy among young people living in border areas.
The next annual Deputy Foreign Ministers meeting is going to take place in Kazakhstan at the end of 2020.