23 October 200411:46

TRANSCRIPT OF REMARKS BY MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION SERGEY LAVROV AT SESSION OF CICA MINISTERIAL MEETING (ALMATY, OCTOBER 22, 2004)

2279-23-10-2004

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Unofficial translation from Russian

Honorable ministers,

Esteemed participants of the session,

First of all, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to our Kazakhstan colleagues for the excellent organization of today's meeting. Kazakhstan's "engine" role and the personal contribution of President Nursultan Abishevich Nazarbayev to advancing the CICA process have largely facilitated its success.

We positively assess the path traveled by the Conference over ten years of its existence. We believe that its format approved by the first CICA summit as a dialogue forum best meets the political realities in the space uniting our countries, and here I fully agree with the Honorable Presiding Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan. We see the main purpose of the Conference in pooling the efforts of a wide circle of Asian states to actively participate in the establishment in Asia of a common space of security and trust. It is necessary to lead matters to the creation of a coherent, integral network of counteraction against new challenges and threats. This is all the more important as hotbeds of terrorism and seats of regional conflicts still remain here, with many border disputes unresolved and nuclear-missile proliferation and illegal drugs and arms trade being topical problems.

Russia wants to see the Asian continent a peaceful, prosperous, stable and integrated community of sovereign states. It is from this standpoint that we assess our participation in CICA.

It is important that this forum is moving from a formative stage to a stage of practical actions in unison with the increased activity of other multilateral associations in Asia - the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, ASEAN and its Regional Security Forum, ASEAN + 3 mechanisms, the APEC and Asia-Europe Forums. This tendency is evidence of the strengthening of cooperative, multilateral principles in the Asian space. In this connection I would like to draw attention to the recent Tashkent Initiative of the SCO for establishing a partner network of multilateral associations in the Asia-Pacific region. It appears that this idea is very relevant and, in addition, fits completely into the philosophy of CICA. We could all be actively participating in its realization.

Our meeting is dedicated to considering a number of important documents, aimed at the promotion of stability and security in Asia. It is hard to overestimate the importance of the CICA Catalogue of Confidence Building Measures, which we are today to approve. For the first time in the history of the Asian continent a major document has appeared which envisages the multilateral cooperation of member states on an extensive range of key stability and security issues.

The adoption of the Catalogue and, most importantly, its implementation can make a significant contribution to the cause of multilateral cooperation in the political, antiterrorist, economic, humanitarian and other fields. We have no remarks on the draft of this document. We feel that our senior officials and experts have prepared it very well, with an eye on practical matters. Perhaps, the next step ought to be the creation of a mechanism for implementing the confidence building measures, recorded in the Catalogue. It would already be possible to start working out the parameters and conditions for the exchange of information on components of armed forces.

Also of great importance is the adoption of the Rules of Procedure of the CICA, which provide a legal basis for its structure and current activities.

Our common vision of the situation in the world and in the Asian region, our uniform approach toward the settlement of unresolved problems, our concerns and the guidelines for further cooperation are reflected in the Declaration of the Ministerial Meeting, which we are to adopt today. I want to especially stress the importance of its antiterrorist provisions. In the conditions, when international terrorism is throwing down a challenge to all mankind and seeking to destabilize vast regions and set different peoples, confessions and cultures at loggerheads, when terrorists are trying to acquire nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, we are duty-bound to oppose to the new dimension of terrorist danger a qualitatively new level of antiterrorist partnership.

A priority task is the active participation of the CICA member states in the international reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, and assistance to the creation of necessary conditions for that country to be a sovereign, democratic state which lives in peace and harmony with its neighbors and the rest of the international community. A state on whose territory there should never recur any more what happened, when the territory of the country was used by international terrorists for attacks on sovereign countries.

As far as resolving the situation in Iraq is concerned, we proceed from the positions presupposing strict compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 1546 and the political process timetable therein fixed. We consider it a priority the participation in this process of all the political forces of the country, including the opposition forces, the holding on this basis of a general democratic election, and the achievement of national reconciliation in Iraq. In our opinion, the holding of an international conference on Iraq with the participation of its neighbors, the members of the UN Security Council, the League of Arab States, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference would facilitate this and the upcoming ministerial meeting on Iraq to be held in Egypt at the end of November, in which Russia will be taking an active part, can start the process.

Important positive shifts are occurring in the South Asian region. We welcome the momentum-gathering political dialogue between New Delhi and Islamabad. Both sides have begun carrying out a broad spectrum of confidence building measures, they are fostering business contacts and discussing possibilities for expanding trade-and-economic cooperation. We hope that the political will on both sides will enable continuing this important process in the interests of promoting regional stability and security.

Russia is for the speediest possible unblocking of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and resumption of negotiations in accordance with the Road Map, drawn up by the Quartet of international mediators and endorsed by UN Security Council Resolution 1515. The Road Map as a document accepted by both parties, with its logic of reciprocal steps offers an optimal path leading to achievement of an enduring peace in the region. The international legal basis of the peace process must be the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, the Madrid principles, the "land for peace" formula, the existing agreements and understandings as well as - I shall emphasize this particularly - the pan-Arab peace initiative.

Esteemed colleagues,

In CICA activities a critical period of practical steps is setting in, which must confirm its usefulness in the matter of assisting peace and security in our vast region. Russia together with all the Conference participants will be actively working in this important area of Asian politics.

I am certain that our further steps in filling the available agreements with specific content will increase the real contribution of CICA to the cause of strengthening regional and global stability, security and development.

October 22, 2004

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