Silk Road Tbilisi Forum 2015 has started
Silk Road Tbilisi 2015 forum started today.
Following the success of the inaugural Routes Silk Road in July of last year, the 2015 event, once again takes place in Tbilisi hosted by United Airports of Georgia (UAG) under the auspices of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development.
Routes Silk Road 2015 is the route development forum that connects CIS, Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Asia. Located at the crossroads between Europe and Asia, Georgia is a bridge connecting several important economic regions including Europe, the Newly Independent States (NIS), Turkey, the Caucasus and Central Asia region. Its geographic location makes the country the transportation hub for commerce and job creation.
The event will be attended by delegates 700 from all over the World.
TALKS WITH THE REGIONAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE UN OHCHR FOR CENTRAL ASIA
On November 3, 2021, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan Vepa Hajiyev met with the Regional Representative of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights for Central Asia, Ryszard Komenda, via videoconference.
Dmitry Shlapachenko, UN Resident Coordinator in Turkmenistan, also took part in the meeting.
During the meeting, the sides discussed issues related to further development of cooperation between Turkmenistan and the UN specialized agencies on human rights. There was a constructive exchange of views on strengthening and protection of human rights, including implementation of the obligations and provisions of the human rights conventions in which Turkmenistan takes part.
Noting Turkmenistan's achievements in the field of human rights, the sides discussed procedures for the practical implementation of humanitarian standards in national legislation.
As is known, Turkmenistan, consistently fulfilling its obligations in the humanitarian sphere, has acceded to most UN conventions, covenants and protocols on human rights. The protection of human rights and gender development issues are reflected in the national programs of socio-economic development of Turkmenistan.
The sides also discussed the activities of the Working Group of the Interdepartmental Commission on compliance with Turkmenistan's international obligations on human rights and international humanitarian law. In this regard, the sides considered the key areas of implementation of the Joint Action Plan of the Interdepartmental Commission on compliance with Turkmenistan's international obligations on human rights and international humanitarian law and of the United Nations (UN) Mission in Turkmenistan for the second half of 2021.
Regular contacts between the Government of Turkmenistan and the International Labor Organization (ILO) for the coordination of joint projects and the organization of visits to Turkmenistan by ILO experts were emphasized.
During the talks, gratitude was expressed to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights for Central Asia for organizing and conducting meetings related to the provision of technical assistance and coordination of activities in the implementation of UN projects on human rights.
GLOBALink | Chinese trains travel through Silk Road, bringing treasures to CIIE
The first "Jinbo" China-Europe freight train has arrived in Shanghai, marking the first time for exhibits for the upcoming China International Import Expo to be sent by freight train to the municipality.
Produced by Xinhua Global Service
South Caucasus in the new geopolitical realities
By Zaal Anjaparidze
While foreign policy identities so significantly diverge in the South Caucasus (SC), there is one key common denominator that ties the regional counties together – the interconnectedness of security risks. Those risks together with the opportunities have become more visible and tangible after the latest 44-day war in Karabakh, which entailed new geopolitical realities in the region. What is worth noting part of the risks and opportunities for SC countries largely emanate from the immediate neighborhood. On the other hand, the interconnected and interdependent nature of security in the SC goes beyond its neighborhood, because each country - Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan has its own complex and multilayered geopolitical identity.
In this context, the initiative of a six-nation cooperation platform comprising Turkey, Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia initiated by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in December 2020, shortly after the end of the war over the disputed Karabakh created a window of opportunity for permanent peace, stability, and cooperation in the region. At the same time, the initiative has stumbled over the existing contradictions between some of the named member-states. The exemplary case was the statement by Georgia’s Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani that albeit Tbilisi finds it “very hard” to join the “3+3 platform,” the country should still seek ways to engage in the prospective infrastructure projects in the region. His statement was promptly disavowed by the other Georgian officials. They underlined that Georgia will not join “3+3 format” because of the presence of Russia with whom Georgia disrupted diplomatic relations after the Russian-Georgian war in 2008 and occupation of Georgia’s secessionist regions by Russia after recognition of their state independence. Georgian Foreign Ministry claimed that the engagement of Georgia in the major geopolitical projects should not be undertaken at the expense of national interests and concessions to the occupier country (Russia).
While Russia-leaning groups in Georgia support “3+3” platform arguing that Georgia must pursue pragmatic and realistic politics reckoning with its neighborhood and geopolitical environment, pro-western forces vehemently oppose it. They consider the engagement of Georgia, the sole ally of the West, in the “3+3” platform where the EU and USA are absent will definitely result in damaged relations with the western partners. Besides, opponents of “3+3” platform argue that Georgia and Armenia will be in this alliance rather as “junior partners” than equitable members as compared to more powerful Russia, Turkey, Iran, and Azerbaijan.
It’s worth noting that recently Russia has decided to revitalize “3+3 format.” Most likely Moscow did so either to pursue its own interests and gain more dominance in the region, or play along with Turkey in order to prevent attempts of the West to reclaim the ground in the region that it has lost after the second war in Karabakh.
However, it’s still unclear how and whether “3+3” format will be able to keep the mutually acceptable balance of political, military and economic interests. The attitude of Iran is exemplary in this context. If the geopolitical order in the South Caucasus before the second war in Karabakh has been relatively acceptable for Tehran, nowadays the situation is different. Iran is sending clear signals to Azerbaijan and Turkey about the unacceptability of the changed geopolitical reality in the region. Thus, Tehran is going to play a more proactive role in the formation of the new rules of the game in South Caucasus and not only politically. Iran has already has announced an agreement between Iran and Armenia for establishing a new alternative transit route for Iranian trucks bypassing the Azerbaijan-controlled 20-km section, where the trucks are required to pay tolls. The northern part of the route will go through Georgia. Like Tehran, Moscow is also not happy with the excessive strengthening of the role of Turkey and Azerbaijan in the region.
However, whatever the plans of the initiators of “3+3,” the initiative largely remains declarative, so far and there are no tangible indicators that it will be “fleshed out” in the near future. Geopolitical contradictions between the key players of the “3+3” format – Russia, Turkey, and Iran, the persisting confrontation between Azerbaijan and Armenia and standalone Georgia, with its pro-western stance, make materialization of “3+3” even more uncertain
Despite various speculations, today the normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia seems more realistic because the second war in Karabakh has changed a lot from the geopolitical and geo-economical points of view. Presumably, reckoning with these new realities Armenia perceives the situation in the more realistic prism. Improvement of relations with Turkey, including the opening of borders and new transport communications are the tools that could relieve long-term bilateral confrontation and contribute to peace in the region.
Georgia lacks official military-political allies in difference from Armenia and Azerbaijan. Strengthening the influence of Russia and Turkey around Georgia with the weakening influence of the West in the region leaves Georgia in a vulnerable position. This affects Georgia’s role as a transit country and may leave it on the margins of anticipated grand regional projects.
Russia and Turkey are highly likely to do their best to lure Georgia somehow into the “3+3” platform and persuade Armenia to join the platform despite persisting tensions with Azerbaijan.
It appears that Tbilisi and Yerevan must decide whether the benefits of joining “3+3” in any form will overweigh geopolitical risks. These risks are far greater for Georgia because joining “3+3” may significantly damage its relations with the West. These relations are already strained due to the latest political developments in the country highly criticized by the West.
Fragile peace after the armistice in Karabakh supported by Russian peacekeepers and the Turkish military observers revealed a tangle of problems waiting for settlement. Currently the most notable are the continued tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia manifested in the armed clashes at times and increasing tensions between Azerbaijan and Iran. The latter considers itself unfairly outflanked during the peace talks on the resolution of the latest Armenian-Azerbaijani armed conflict.
By repeated but still less successful attempts to act as a mediator in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict Georgia is highly likely aiming at finding its unique niche in the new geopolitical realities. However, subdued reactions from Baku and Yerevan indicate that none of them is in the mood to see Georgia as a key mediator given the Russian and Turkish factors. Georgia, which perhaps has more at stake in peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia than does any other third country, has ample reason for concerns over the actions of Turkey to say nothing about Russia. Ankara’s new geopolitical assertiveness is a wild card with unpredictable implications for Tbilisi. Possible Turkish-Armenian reconciliation will enhance Armenia’s regional role and will offer the latter a better bargaining position with Georgia with the attendant consequences.
The complex geopolitical theatre of the South Caucasus exerts significant influence on the foreign policy identities of the region’s countries. Intra-regional conflicts make the region highly exposed to the influences of its larger neighbors, which play a significant role in shaping the regional security dynamics.
At the same time, membership within or orientation towards the conflicting alliances strengthens intra-regional rifts, further decreasing the chances of peaceful conflict resolution in the region. To this end, “3+3” platform can be considered as one of the possible but not an ideal tool for keeping a relative balance of powers and interests of the key regional players. But the attempt to supplant the West as a non-regional player, is fraught with risks given the strategic interests of the latter in the regions.
Despite the strong divergence in foreign policy and alliance choices of the three South Caucasus states, strategic multilateral partnerships within the region and with the region’s immediate neighbors, appear to be the best possible option to transform fragile stability into a lasting cooperation framework, which in turn is a path to sustainable peace. However, existing tensions between Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia on the delimitation and demarcation of state borders, as well as ownership of historical-cultural monuments in the disputed border areas, don’t contribute to the development of full-fledged partnership.
Consultative Meeting of the Heads of States of Central Asia was held in Turkmenistan
Today, on the 6th of August 2021, the Consultative Meeting of the Heads of States of Central Asia was held in the National Tourist Zone “Avaza”. The Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Central Asia, the Head of the UN Regional Center for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia Natalia Gherman also took part in the session.
The Presidents of Central Asian states arrived to Turkmenistan to participate to this conference in the framework of which a number of parallel events of economic and cultural scope were held, including the Economic Forum of the Central Asian states, International Exhibition of the Products of Central Asian countries, Women’s Dialogue of the States of Central Asia, as well as the International Festival of the National Cuisines of the region’s countries.
The Consultative Meeting of the Heads of States of Central Asia was held in the Congress Hall of the National Tourist Zone “Avaza”. The event was preceded by the bilateral meetings of the heads of states. Then, the joint photographing ceremony of the Presidents of five Central Asian states took place.
In his opening speech, the President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov expressed gratitude to his colleagues for accepting the invitation to visit Turkmenistan for participation to the Consultative Meeting aimed at further strengthening of regional cooperation, provision of conditions for more active and oriented steps in this regard, which is expected to become a strong mobilizing factor for effective and constructive participation of the Central Asian region to the continental and global affairs.
The parties considered the key aspects of developing political, trade-economic and cultural-humanitarian collaboration between the countries of the region. A constructive exchange of views on the issues of regional stability was held. The Presidents discussed the pressing issues of regional cooperation, exchanged opinions on current topics of international development. They also agreed to accelerate the external policy cooperation, including through the regular five-sided meetings between the MFAs of the regions’ countries.
During the session, the Presidents discussed the issues related to the implementation of resolutions adopted at the Consultative Meeting of the Heads of States of Central Asia that was held in Tashkent on November 29, 2019. The parties noted the importance of the region from the geopolitical and geo-economic perspectives and underlined the high level of mutual understanding, trust and mutual respect between the countries that are united by century’s long historical, spiritual and cultural ties. It was emphasized that all of this is positively affecting not only the region, but the Eurasia in general.
Special attention was paid to the establishment of favorable conditions for the partnership in the energy sphere, expansion of cooperation between the region’s countries in transport-communications field, in particular through the maintenance of effective functioning of available and by forming new transport corridors. In his speech, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov said, “based on the UN documents, we are forming in Central Asia favorable political-legal and economic conditions for safe, sustainable partnership, which is oriented at the fulfillment of internal regional demand for energy carriers, as well as directed at the entrance to the world markets via the international transit corridors”.
The Presidents exchanged views on the development of trade ties, increase of export and import operations. The agreements were reached on the diversification of mutual trade turnover and industrial cooperation.
One of the main constituents of the agenda of the meeting was the consolidation of efforts of the region’s countries on countering the pandemic. The Presidents agreed to facilitate the organization and encourage joint research in the area of studying the nature of new type infections, as well as the application of new methods of treatment and prevention of communicable diseases.
Upon the outcomes of the meeting, the Joint Statement of the Heads of States of Central Asia was adopted.
Then, an official ceremony of awarding the Honorable Sign of the Heads of States of Central Asia was held. In accordance with the decision of the Presidents of the countries of Central Asia adopted at the current Consultative Meeting, the Honorable Sign was awarded to the President of the Republic of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon for outstanding achievements in the development of friendship, good-neighborliness, mutual understanding and cooperation between the states of Central Asia, as well as for strengthening peace and security in the region, promotion of joint interests and initiatives of the region’s countries within the international community. With the applauses of the audience, the Honorable Sign was awarded by the President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov.
Then the press conference of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan Rashid Meredov and the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Central Asia, the Head of the UN Regional Center for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia Natalia Gherman took place upon the outcomes of the Consultative Meeting of the Heads of States of Central Asia.
The same day, the Presidents visited the International Exhibition of the Products of Central Asian countries and the International Festival of the National Cuisines of the region’s countries.
In the end of the day, the heads of states took part in the festive concert of the art and culture workers of the countries of Central Asia, as well as in the official dinner.
Heads of the Central Asian states arrived in Turkmenistan to hold the Consultative meeting
On August 6 in Turkmenistan, Avaza national tourist zone located at the coast of the Caspian sea, the Consultative meeting of heads of the Central Asian states, called to promote further development of multilateral regional cooperation, its growth into a new level, answering to modern realities and available potential boundaries will take place.
The day before honoured guests - President of Republic of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, President of the Kirghiz Republic Sadyr Japarov, President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev and President of the Republic of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon arrived in Avaza national tourist zone. It is remarkable also that participation of the Tajik leader in the present Consultative meeting coincided with his state visit to Turkmenistan.
In the International airport of Turkmenbashi city, decorated with National flags of the Central Asian countries, according to the established noble tradition honoured guests were welcomed with bread and salt.
On the agenda of the present Forum is a wide spectrum of issues concerning activization of interstate partnership in its key directions, and also actual regional and international subjects. It marks itself the next important stage in cooperation of the countries of Central Asia, formation of effective long-term mechanisms of interaction, concrete definition of paramount problems, creation of necessary conditions for sustainable development of the region, its accelerated integration into world processes.
Thus, the Consultative meeting of heads of the states of Central Asia being held in Avaza national tourist zone is of great importance for further development of full format regional cooperation, attachment of more dynamical, strategic character to it that answers centuries-old principles of good neighbourhood and interests of well-being of the brotherly countries and people.
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Today at the invitation of the President of Turkmenistan the head of the Central Asian states have made a joint voyage by the yacht on the Caspian Sea. During the voyage leaders of the countries of the region exchanged opinions on realisation of agreements reached before and possibilities of the further development of mutually beneficial cooperation which possesses an impressive potential.
Honoured guests noted the significance of the work, including creation of green space, for maintenance of favourable climate that strengthens the status of Avaza as the sanatorium zone corresponding to the international standards.
Further the head of Turkmenistan and honoured guests together went by bus to the multipurpose sports complex "Avaza", enjoying on their way natural features and luxurious projects of the National tourist zone.
In recent years in this corner the modern sanatorium infrastructure which provides all conditions for comfortable rest and improvement of health has been developed.
The president of Turkmenistan and honoured guests familiarised themselves with the possibilities created in the multipurpose sports complex "Avaza" for practice of physical training and sports.
Heads of the Central Asian states appreciated the strategy realised by the Turkmen leader directed to protection of public health, improvement of the health of society and active way of life, development of physical training and sports movement, formation of modern profile infrastructure in the country.