Foreign Ministers Meet in Kazakhstan as CICA Gets a New Home
The 6th meeting of CICA attendees included ministers, deputy ministers, and representatives of embassies of members and observers of the CICA countries. There were also representatives of international organizations and partner organizations present. Image: turk-pa.org
What do foreign ministers do all day? We generally only hear about them when things go wrong, but part of what makes the global system run comparatively smoothly is the less publicized work of maintaining friendly contacts between neighbours and groups of nations. One of the lesser-known forums or such interactions in the Caspian region is the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA). Founded in 1992 and based in Kazakhstan, the organization aims to promote the principles of “partnership, equality and mutual solidarity” in Asia and beyond. It has 27 member states stretching from Turkey to Vietnam, Russian to Bahrain, and nine ‘observer states.’ In total, it covers an area that includes almost half of the world’s population and over 50% of global GDP. Also represented are five important ‘observer organizations’ including the OSCE, Arab League and Parliamentary Assembly of Turkic Speaking Countries.
Ceremonial opening of the new CICA HQ. Image: s-cica.org
CICA meetings occur roughly every second year, alternately with a head-of-state ‘summit’ or a slightly lower level but still highly important ‘ministerial meeting.’ This week (October 12, 2021) was one of the latter, held in Nursultan, Kazakhstan, where the organization’s secretariat is based. It coincided with the inauguration of a brand new CICA HQ complex in Nursultan’s futuristic Expo-quarter.
An architect’s model of the Expo area of Nursultan where the new CICA offices were inaugurated this week. Image: Alexander Chizhenok/Shutterstock
As is so often the case at events like these, the central showcase meeting gave each country the chance to say its set-piece statements, for example, Iran restating its views on Palestine and Azerbaijan calling for help with land-mine clearance in its de-occupied territories. However, behind the scenes, what matters is the chance for informal contacts to be made to discuss knotty issues without great fanfare.
The circular layout of the central meeting chamber is designed to suggest equality amongst the 27 member nations. Image: turk-pa.org