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Istanbul, June 9: The 3rd Summit of the Conference for Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) held in Istanbul on June 8 is a huge step forward for what began as a bold initiative voiced by President Nursultan Nazarbayev at the UN General Assembly in 1992. For the first time, the CICA summit took place outside Kazakhstan, with the presidency in the forum being officially transferred to another member-state, Turkey. The Summit also saw two more states – Iraq and Vietnam - joining a conference as full members, bringing a tally of membership to 22.

President Nazarbayev’s idea behind the CICA initiative was to bring Asian nations into a common framework for a dialogue and cooperation in the name of stronger security and greater trust between the nations of the world’s largest and most populous continent.

First formal meetings took place following seven years of preliminary talks, which did meet occasional scepticism. Diplomatic efforts resulted in the first CICA summit in Almaty in 2002, followed by another one four years later but in the same place. It is also where the conference’s Secretariat was established a few years ago. An expanding international staff, a growing number of member-states and events all around Asia, and now a summit in Turkey, clearly proves that the Kazakh initiative has been embraced by most Asian nations.

Speaking in Istanbul, President Nazarbayev stated it is critical to enhance dialog in CICA’s military-political track of activities. “Efficient implementation of CICA’s diplomatic instruments, including confidence-building measures, can help diminish the risk of incidents like the one we witnessed last week in the eastern Mediterranean. We urge all sides of the conflict to engage in a constructive dialogue, which is vital for security and stability in the region”, he said.

Nazarbayev stressed the cooperation between CICA and OSCE should bring the development of a continental platform of security for the entire Eurasian landmass. He also noted establishing working relations with SCO, OIC, and the Central Asian Regional Informational and Coordination for Centre for combating the illicit trafficking of drugs (CARICC) would benefit the CICA a good deal.

Passing the presidency baton of CICA to Turkish President Abdullah Gul, Nazarbayev stated Turkey had a unique historical, political, and cultural experience for advancing the most complex process of building trust and cooperation in Asia.

“I am confident that the Turkish presidency would actively work toward advancing a concept of indivisible cooperative security in Asia through expanded dialogue and seeking consensus”, he concluded,

The day before the CICA summit, the Kazakh OSCE chairmanship arranged a special event focusing on security and economic co-operation in Eurasia in the 21st century that gathered ministerial level participants from the OSCE’s Asian and Mediterranean Partners for cooperation. OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Kazakhstan’s Secretary of State and Foreign Minister Kanat Saudabayev attended this meeting and said the OSCE and CICA should cooperate more intensively for regional security and prosperity.

"If we don't take urgent joint measures, a new wave of financial and economic crises can emerge. We think the OSCE and CICA, as the largest regional alliances of Eurasia, should redouble their efforts to develop economic co-operation in the interest of all participating States," he noted.

"Kazakhstan as the OSCE Chairmanship in 2010 will further step up efforts for strengthening the co-operation between the two structures and the two continents, to give it more substance via a permanent exchange of ideas and practical experience."

An area where co-operation between the two structures has a good potential could be the engagement with Afghanistan, said Saudabayev. "Today it is becoming clear that the problem of Afghanistan cannot be resolved only by military effort. Afghanistan's authorities need a firm support in the socio-economic rehabilitation and the democratic development of the country. It is natural that such support should emanate in the first place from the partners of Afghanistan in the OSCE and the CICA," he added.

In this regard, Saudabayev invited his colleagues to discuss within the framework of this event and the upcoming Summit the establishment of the OSCE - CICA Forum, which could become an ongoing dialogue platform between the two structures, where pressing issues of security and cooperation in the huge Eurasian continent, including the recent tragic incident in the Mediterranean can be discussed and examined.

Saudabayev also read out a message by President Nazarbayev to the forum participants.

In his message the Kazakh leader reiterated his sincere commitment to the strategic goal of creating a unified Euro-Asian zone of security and cooperation.

As Kazakhstan is active in two major regional structures of the continent – the CICA and the OSCE, it presumes the necessity to deepen interaction between nations and regional associations as we are witnessing the intertwining of Asian and European trends in world politics and economy.

In this respect, Kazakh President Nazarbayev does not exclude the possibility of creating in the long run of a “unified platform for security and trust throughout the Eurasian space”.

The President of Kazakhstan welcomed the fact that the CICA quickly adapts to a changing world and consistently promotes cooperation with the OSCE. This special event for the Asian and Mediterranean partners of the OSCE, many of which are full members or observers of the CICA, can be a first example of such cooperation.

The OSCE Secretary General Marc Perrin de Brichambaut, high level officials from the OSCE Troika - Greece, Kazakhstan and Lithuania, as well as the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President Joao Soares participated in the event.

As part of the Summit, the attending heads of states and governments held a number of bilateral meetingsin Istanbul. President Nazarbayev first met with Turkish President Abdulla Gul and discussed the agenda of the CICA Summit, as well as issues of bilateral cooperation. The Kazakh President also held bilateral meetings with other counterparts, including presidents Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian National Authority, Gjorge Ivanov of FYR Macedonia, Prime Ministers Vladimir Putin of Russia and Recep Erdogan of Turkey.

Saudabayev has also held several bilateral meetings with his fellow foreign ministers Ruslan Kazakbayev of Kyrgyzstan, Audronius Azubalis of Lithuania, Gombojav Zandanshatar of Mongolia, and Secretary General of the Economic Community Organization (ECO) Mohammad Yahya Maroufi.

The Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) is an inter-governmental security forum in Asia which initiated by President Nursultan Nazarbayev in 1992. CICA Member States include Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, China, Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Palestine, Russia, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, Uzbekistan, and now Iraq and Vietnam.

The CICA offers an opportunity for Asian nations to address modern challenges to international peace and stability and set out the vision to tackle them.

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