Security and cooperation platform in Asia: geopolitical importance to Azerbaijan

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Baku, 21 June 2019 –

Tajikistan's capital Dushanbe hosted the fifth Summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA). The heads of state and government discussed the ways of making the region safer and more developed and also focused on the existing dangers, risks and threats. Azerbaijan was represented by Prime Minister Novruz Mammadov. In his speech at the Summit, the Prime Minister highlighted a number of issues and reiterated the necessity of finding a solution to the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The Summit heard interesting views and forecasts. This article will analyze them from a single geopolitical perspective.

Topical issues: different aspects of interaction and confidence building

As the world`s geopolitical center of gravity is shifting from the Middle East to the Central and Southeast Asia, the effectiveness of the mechanisms of security, cooperation and confidence-building in Asia is gaining an unprecedented topicality. An initiative of the former President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia was set up in 1992. The organization is working to deal with the aforementioned issues. And the Ashgabat summit was of particular importance in this regard.

The event was attended by the heads of state of Turkey, Russia, China, Iran, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Azerbaijan was represented by Prime Minister Novruz Mammadov. As expected, the summit was remarkable as it focused on the issues of crucial significance to the Asian continent. Themed "Shared Vision of Secure and More Prosperous CICA Region”, the summit saw participation of the heads of state and government, senior officials from 27 countries and representatives of international and regional organizations.

Tajik President Emomali Rahmon described terrorism and extremism as major threats to regional security. He said these threats require regional countries to boost cooperation. The Tajik leader also emphasized the importance of expanding transportation infrastructure projects in order to pursue common regional interests.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan focused on the geopolitical problems facing Asia, including threats posed by trade wars. He also drew the audience`s attention to the artificially caused problems faced by Turkey, and said confidence and cooperation in Asia would have a positive impact on global geopolitical processes.

Azerbaijan`s Prime Minister Novruz Mammadov spoke of the problems facing the Asian continent. Novruz Mammadov said: "Undoubtedly, armed conflicts, terrorism, racism, radicalism, intolerance and cyber threats pose serious risks to international peace and security. International and regional security are closely linked. Violation of peace and stability in one region causes threats to security in other regions. The Prime Minister stressed that amid these threats, the CICA has a crucial role to play in ensuring peace, stability and security in the Asian continent. First and foremost, this organization is of extreme importance as a platform of real dialogue and cooperation. But what must be taken into account here is Armenia`s policy of aggression against Azerbaijan. Apart from the United Nations and other international organizations, the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia also adopted resolutions and decisions supporting the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict based on norms and principles of international law. The conflict must be solved in accordance with international legal norms and relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council and the Helsinki Final Act based on Azerbaijan`s territorial integrity and sovereignty.”

Conflict settlement: road to stability

Azerbaijan`s Prime Minister is absolutely right because it`s impossible to speak of regional or global security unless the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict is solved. There is no possibility that mutual confidence or cooperation will be established in Asia either. From this point of view, the Ashgabat summit should be of particular interest.

Novruz Mammadov highlighted Azerbaijan`s contributions to ensuring security and cooperation in Asia and Europe. "By investing heavily in transportation infrastructure, specifically in sea ports, railways, airports and highways, we have transferred out favorable geographical location into real transportation opportunities. Azerbaijan has today grown into a major transit country at the crossroads of the East-West and North-South transportation corridors. Launched in 2017, the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railroad is a key linkage between Asia and Europe. All this creates an international cooperation format, linking nations and countries to each other and contributing to peace and stability.”

Undoubtedly, the fact that Azerbaijan is a modern state moving forward on the path towards comprehensive and rapid development opens up additional opportunities for both the South Caucasus and the Asian continent. Protecting Azerbaijan`s interests means protecting peace, stability, security and cooperation.

Other speakers also echoed the Azerbaijani Prime Minister`s remarks. President of China Xi Jinping noted the necessity of ensuring peace and stability in the region. "In order to achieve this, cooperation should be developed in all areas. Preserving tolerance is also one of the crucial issues.” China`s Xi also focused on the threats preventing the development of cooperation in Asia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin underlined the importance of combating terrorism. He said extremists started moving to Afghanistan, which causes new threats to Asia. President Putin noted that the Syrian conflict also jeopardizes stability and peace in Asia, urging combined efforts to tackle the challenges. Against a background of these thoughts, elevating the fight against the Armenian terror in the South Caucasus appears to be an outstanding task.

In this context, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani`s saying that the Middle East became the most criminalized region of the world seems logical. Putting an end to the conflict in Syria is crucial. At the same time, tension surrounding the nuclear treaty signed between Iran and Western states encourages serious threats to the region. The United States` withdrawal from the treaty may force the Islamic Republic to resume enriching uranium. So it remains one of the pressing problems for Asia.

The issues of peace, reconciliation, cooperation, confidence-building and security in Asia, which is home to the two thirds of the world population, are closely linked to global geopolitical dynamics. Real, sincere and effective measures should therefore be taken in the Asian continent to deal with these issues. This may encourage the forces that support the destructive role of extremism in Asia. However, it is impossible to neutralize these forces by combining efforts because the CICA includes powers as Turkey, China, Russia, Iran and Kazakhstan. In addition, regional leader Azerbaijan is also quite active.

But achieving this goal requires a united and comprehensive approach to the fight against terrorism, extremism, drugs and other negative cases.

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