By Gulay Mutlu
On September 12, the Fourth CICA (Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia) Ministers of Foreign Affairs Meeting was held in Astana, a city having very close ties with Turkish history, culture and people. Foreign Ministers of eight different states and heads of fourteen international organizations participated in the meeting.
The platform, in which nearly the entire Asian continent was represented, appealed to the whole world not only because of the geography it covered, but also thanks to its international scale of organization. Although he could not attend the summit, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s specially prepared speech and his message congratulating CICA’s success were delivered.
Since 2010, as a main characteristic of CICA, the mission to unite Asian states under one roof has been led by Turkey. This year, it was furthered with Kazakhstan as the host country.
Infrastructure of the Organization Is Ready
The most important characteristic of the platform, transformed to a channel for cooperation between Asian states, is its focus on the “confidence-building measures” rather than the “security.”
The emergence of international organizations requires years, and when they have strong roots, their institutionalism and their actions correspondingly become more active. Last week, CICA marked its twentieth anniversary with its Fourth Ministers of Foreign Affairs Meeting. President Nazarbayev emphasized that the platform, which has somehow become a symbol of stability in Asia, has the potential to hold the next meeting in the capacity of an international organization.
In 2004, a decision was made to create a CICA secretariat after the ratification of the Almaty Act, and it was implemented in 2006. The platform, institutionalized since that period, was primarily composed of the Committee of Senior Officials and Special Working Groups, together with some diversified subgroups. The Action Plan, prepared by those groups, constitutes the required basis for documents to be presented to banks and for decisions to be made.
CICA has successfully managed the process of becoming an organization through developing cooperation up to today, together with the objective to support security, peace and stability in Asia with sophisticated approaches. Having given priority to its emphasis on political, economic, environmental, military and humanitarian cooperation in the region since its foundation, CICA has achieved much in terms of contributing to the understanding of the relations between civilizations and providing tolerance. To illustrate, whenever relations between Pakistan and India became tense, CICA created a stage for negotiations between the two parties and thus prevented the tension from escalating.
Turkey’s Chairmanship of CICA
Since 2010, Turkey has been heading the rotating presidency. During Turkey’s Chairmanship, the number of member states has been increased from twenty to twenty-four with the inclusion of Bahrain, Iraq, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
Furthermore, during its chairmanship, Turkey has arranged eight meetings for the Special Working Group and nine meetings for the Committee of Senior Officials. Six of the Special Working Group meetings were held in Turkey, one in China and one in Kazakhstan. Five CSO meetings were held in Turkey and two in Kazakhstan. In parallel to these meetings, the economic sub-group has also been gathered five times. In the meeting on September 12, it was announced that the term of the chairmanship was extended for two more years until 2014 for Turkey, which took office initially in 2010 after Kazakhstan’s eighteen-year presidency of CICA. It was also officially announced that after Turkey, China would become president in the next term between 2014 and 2016.
Kazakhstan’s Contributions Still Remain
Kazakhstan, which together with CICA has prioritized the key term “cooperation” in Asia and has moved forward without losing its trustworthiness, showed its support for and belief in CICA one more time by hosting the Fourth Ministers of Foreign Affairs Meeting. The speech delivered by President Nazarbayev in order to appeal to participants of the organization’s twentieth anniversary session reflected the future perspective of CICA. He summarized the conference by stating that it is difficult to solve global problems regarding security without providing any mutual trust between Asian states. Many subjects in the final address of the meeting were included in Nazarbayev’s speech as well. These varied subjects included globalization, the economy, environmental disasters, security weaknesses, increasing energy problems, violations of international law, disarmament, and the question of Afghanistan. The only solution enabling the Asian continent to cope with such knotted problems is to come together on a common platform and open every possible communication channel. That means sharing intelligence, having a common stance towards key issues of global concern such as terrorism and human trafficking, cooperating politically and economically, and maintaining cultural interaction to keeping nations of such an intensively textured geography together. In order to solve all these problems, one of the most remarkable recommendations was to set up the necessary infrastructures for communication and transportation.
Comprising 90% of the Asian continent and population from Russia to China, Iran, Israel, India, and Pakistan, CICA has proved one more time its unique qualities as a platform. Thanks to Turkey’s active presidency and Kazakhstan’s wonderful organization, the CICA summit gathered all representatives and observers together in Astana, which shows that the efforts of both states have not been useless.
Through Kazakhstan and Turkey’s sincere contributions to the latest meeting of CICA, which is continuing to develop and expand its areas of action, there is a certain signal that the next meeting is going to be held within the scope of an international organization.