'Heart of Asia', Ministerial Conference, 14 June 2012
courtesy of www.embassyofafghanistan.org
The conference, held on 14 June in Kabul, was convened as the first follow-up ministerial and high level meeting to the 'Istanbul Process'. Regional and international cooperation were re-affirmed as indispensable to address the country and region changes.
In this context the fight to the illicit production , trafficking and consumption of drugs where pointed out as an issue to be faced with regional and multilateral approach and through bi-lateral agreements and efforts to prevent border movements (´the counter Narcotics CBM´).
The Istanbul Process recognizes Afghanistan's crucial role in promoting connectivity and cooperation across the 'Heart of Asia' region, and welcomes Afghanistan's willingness and determination to use its regional and historical position to promote security and peaceful economic cooperation in the region.
The Istanbul Process is consistent with Afghanistan's vision of achieving lasting stability and prosperity, anchored in a regional environment that is stable, economically integrated and conducive to shared prosperity.
The Process is also a key component of Afghanistan's evolving relationship with its near and extended neighbors focused on making Afghanistan a positive contributor to peace, stability and better economic interactions in the 'Heart of Asia' region.
Elements of the Istanbul Process
Mandated by the Foreign Ministers of the 'Heart of Asia' countries, Afghanistan produced a Concept Paper in January 2012, laying out proposals for follow-up to the Istanbul Process.
The follow‐up concept envisages three key elements:
1) Promotion of political consultations, involving regular meetings at the foreign ministers' level;
2) The implementation of Confidence Building Measures (CBMs), embracing a sustained and incremental approach; and
3) Fostering synergies among regional organizations, involving participation of all regional organizations on a single platform with the goal of bringing greater coherence to the various initiatives and processes.
Key Outcomes of the Conference
The participants endorsed the Concept Paper produced by Afghanistan, and accepted the above mentioned elements for the follow‐up.
With regards to the prioritized CBMs, the delegates agreed to improve the exchange of information about commercial opportunities and trade conditions; enhance cooperation among chambers of commerce; and develop a strategy to develop interconnecting infrastructure across the region - with support from international partners. Furthermore, it was agreed to broaden cooperation and exchanges in the fields of education and science, develop joint plans for disaster management, and work together to fight terrorism.
The enhancement of regional cooperation in countering the production, trafficking and consumption of opium and other narcotic drugs, represented another relevant CBM, which goes hand in hand with UNODC activities in the country and beyond.
While Russia and Azerbaijan undertook the role of lead countries, all the rest of participating states in the conference pledged their full support for the implementation of this CBM within the Istanbul process.