The conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) Summit was held on 12-13 October 2022, in the capital of Kazakhstan, Astana. The meeting was led by Kazakhstan, due to the 30th anniversary of CICA.
In 1992, CICA is a cooperation platform based on regional security, with the initiative of Kazakhstan. CICA aims to create a dialogue environment on providing security in Asia and prepare for applicable situations to have necessary measures to be applied. CICA, which has 27 members, received Kuwait’s application to join the meeting in Astana. Nine countries and five international institutions have observer status. Since 2014, CICA’s headquarter is in Kazakhstan.
The countries that attended the meeting had the opportunity to express their concern and the needed steps to improve the world. One of the key statements marking the meeting was made by the President of Kazakhstan, Mr. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. Mr. Tokayev has proposed that CICA be transformed into a full-fledged international organization. In this context, Mr. Tokayev stated the following:
“We see our organization as a key component of the Asian security system, based on the principles of respecting mutual interests. Security in Asia underlies global security … We are not establishing a new organization; I would like to emphasize that we are moving to a new phase in our institutional development. Increasing the status of the conference will strengthen Asia’s increasing role in world issues and will bring the interaction of member states to a new level. I am convinced that all these steps will contribute to the intensification of cooperation and development in the Asian continent and strengthen its potential to address the challenges and threats that are changing rapidly.”
The Kazakh leader’s idea of turning CICA into an organization was adopted by the final document signed after the meeting. The following are the statements in the document:
“We are launching a comprehensive and transparent negotiation process that is structured on transforming CICA into a gradual, consensus-based, full regional international organization.”
The document also explains the process of transforming the organization. The meeting of heads of state, government, and ministers of foreign affairs will now be called the “Council of State and Heads of Government” (Summit) and the “Council of Foreign Ministers”, respectively.
The position of executive director of the CICA Secretariat was redefined as “General Secretariat.” In 2023, it will be considered by the participating states to create the necessary roadmap for the implementation of the transformation process.
A statement issued at the end of the summit by the participating states stressed the importance of regional security and cooperation:
“To ensure the security and prosperity of the region, to find common solutions to the common problems of the 21st century so that disputes can be resolved peacefully by the United Nations Charter, we will intensify the internal effort.”
Undoubtedly, the transformation of CICA into an international security organization is Kazakhstan’s diplomatic success. In addition, it meets a critical need. Because the international environment entails rapid and significant change. That brings with it new challenges.
As predicted, Kazakhstan’s geopolitical position requires it to be more proactive in foreign policy. Since it borders Russia and China, the two major powers, Kazakhstan has developed long-term projects to ensure its national security. In this sense, the concept of multi-vector and multi-dimensional foreign policy adopted from the independence of Kazakhstan has made it easier for it to overcome the problems it faces. But in the new era, the continent of Asia faces two major challenges. The first is the problems in the global economy and the health and food crises that evolve in this context. The second is a renewed power struggle in Asia.
These two problems directly affect Kazakhstan. There is also the possibility of a third security problem, which impacts the security of the country indirectly, but is related to developments centred on Afghanistan. Because the Afghan Problem has the potential to create regional instability. This would lead Kazakhstan to search for cooperation, which would increase regional security measures.
Kazakhstan’s desire to see CICA transformed into an international organization is based on the principle of “indivisibility of security.” Because the problem in Afghanistan is not just Afghanistan’s problem, and it’s not just threatening Central Asia. The resolution of these crises requires a joint effort by the states. As President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev put it during the Astana meeting, the country could boost the fragility of the international security situation if the Afghanistan problem is not solved and a peaceful order is not established there.
It should be noted that Mr. Tokayev’s proposal to transform CICA into a full-fledged international organization is also an attempt to build an “Asia Community” on the Asian continent. As it is known, the European Community (EC), established in Western Europe with the support of the United States of America (US) after the Second World War, was the guarantee of security and prosperity on the two sides of the Atlantic.
After the Cold War, a “peace and security” zone was built in the Euro-Atlantic region to include Eastern European countries. In effect, some differences of opinion and short-term problems occurred within the EC, but no major armed conflict occurred.
Unlike Europe, however, the countries of the Asian continent have different historical backgrounds, political structures, and cultures. Despite this, Kazakhstan’s main proposal for CICA is to establish an Asia Community, which includes different Asian countries, cares about mutual interests, and tries to solve problems by negotiating.
As a result, the Astana administration’s goal is not to develop an alternative or a rival organization for different geographical formations, but to resolve the problems facing Asian countries. Therefore, Kazakhstan is spearheading the creation of an international organization that will solve the continent’s problems within the continent. But this process will take time, one might say.
 “Президент Касым-Жомарт Токаев принял участие в VI саммите СВМДА”, akorda.kz, https://www.akorda.kz/ru/prezident-kasym-zhomart-tokaev-prinyal-uchastie-v-vi-sammite-svmda-1391219, (Date of Accession: 14.10.2022).
 “Какие документы приняли президенты на саммите СВДМА в Казахстане?”, Central Asia Media, https://centralasia.media/news:1810688, (Date of Accession: 14.10.2022).
 “Мирзиёев предложил урегулировать ситуацию в Афганистане, чтобы страна не превратилась в «террористический хаб»”, Central Asia Media, https://centralasia.media/news:1810603, (Date of Accession: 14.10.2022).