Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA)
INTERVIEW OF FOREIGN MINISTER IGOR IVANOV WITH RIA NOVOSTI AND RENMIN RIBAO CONCERNING THE FORTHCOMING CICA SUMMIT
Question: The first summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) begins in Alma- Ata on June 4. Since the media hardly mentioned the abbreviation CICA until recently, will you, please, tell us about the history and essence of the CICA process?
Answer: The idea of the Conference was advanced by President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan back in 1992, at the 47th UN General Assembly, with a view to launching an Asian process of elaborating mechanisms for the solution of key problems on the continent and ensuring security in Asia. As you see, it took ten years of painstaking work to implement this idea.
Russia supported Nazarbayev's initiative immediately and joined the initiative group of countries, which prepared the summit.
As of now, the CICA has 16 member states of Asia and North Africa - Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Egypt, Israel, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Mongolia, Pakistan, Palestine, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkey and Uzbekistan. Their aggregate territory equals 390 million sq km, or nearly 89% of Asia, and they have an aggregate population of over 2.8 billion people, or about a half of the globe's population. The USA, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Australia and Ukraine, as well as the leading international organisations (including the UN and the OSCE) have the status of observers in the organisation. In other words, the process is extremely representative, which means that it can have a very good future.
Question: What will be the specific features and the importance of the Alma-Ata summit?
Answer: It will be important above all because heads of state and high representatives of states, mostly Asian ones, which have different historical and cultural traditions and political and economic goals, will sit down at one table. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the CICA summit will be an outstanding event internationally and on the regional plane.
The forthcoming summit will be all the more significant in view of the international background, namely the creation of a global counter-terror coalition and the operation it is carrying out in Afghanistan. Besides, the leading countries from other regions of acute instability - the Middle East and South Asia - will be represented at the forum, too.
Question: This prompts the following question: What will be the task of Russian diplomacy in Alma-Ata?
Answer: Our attitude is crystal clear: the CICA can make a major contribution to the improvement of the situation in Asia, above all to the struggle against the terrorist threat. Our final goal as we see it is to create a common and integral security space in Asia. This is a Herculean task in terms of scale and complexity that calls for energetic concerted efforts.
We will need to work in a variety of directions, from the settlement of local conflicts and prevention of the proliferation of mass destruction weapons to the liquidation of ethnic and confessional strife and termination of the illicit trade in narcotics and weapons. Another vital task is to eliminate the basic reasons for the so-called challenges of the new generation, which are rooted in persisting poverty and backwardness and a growing gap between the industrialised and developing countries. In short, there is a vast space for dialogue and cooperation.
Russia and Asia have broad and multifaceted interests. Regional developments directly bear on Russia, above all in the sphere of ensuring security and stability on our eastern borders and creating conditions for the development of Siberia and the Russian Far East.
I want to say again that there are two major crisis seats in the CICA region, the Middle East and Afghanistan. And India and Pakistan, whose confrontation is a deep concern for the world now, are CICA members, too.
Russia has accumulated a wealth of experience in building up confidence and repelling new challenges to international security. I would like to remind you about the agreements on confidence-building measures in the military sphere and on the reduction of troops in the zone of the former Soviet-Chinese border, which Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan signed. They were the first agreements of this kind in the history of Asia. Positive experience of struggle against terrorism, extremism, separatism and organised transnational crime has been accumulated within the framework of the CIS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.
It would be advisable to remind you of Russia-ASEAN cooperation in the elaboration of the Declaration of the Guiding Principles of Relations in Asia-Pacific Region, "Pacific Accord," which is a kind of a code of behaviour in the region. Taken together, this constitutes our practical and weighty contribution to the strengthening of Asian security.
The CICA summit will offer additional possibilities for redoubling international efforts with a view to stabilising the situation in Asia. And we intend to use these possibilities.
Question: The CICA summit will directly precede the meeting of the heads of states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. Would it be expedient to integrate these two organisations in the future?
Answer: One should clearly see the difference between the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the CICA. The Shanghai organisation was created as a full-scale regional organisation, a well-structured mechanism of practical multifaceted collaboration of six member states in a variety of directions, from the confidence building and joint resistance to common threats to trade-economic and cultural partnership. But the CICA is a forum designed for dialogue and consultations and we have no plans of transforming it into an international organisation.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is open for constructive interaction with other countries and international structures. Discussions held within the framework of the CICA could become a positive contribution to the improvement of the work of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.