By Ashok Dixit
Almaty (Kazakhstan), Aug.25 : Lauding the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) for laying the framework for realizing a shared vision of peace and prosperity in the Asian region, India's Minister of State for External Affairs, Anand Sharma, said on Monday that there is a need for the 20 CICA member states to take stock of "complex transnational threats and security challenges, and craft appropriate security responses that go beyond traditional solutions.
Participating in a Foreign Ministers' summit meeting of CICA here, Sharma said that of the many threats confronting Asia, "none is as dangerous as that of terrorism".
Acknowledging that many member countries in the CICA process are victims of terrorism, Sharma emphatically said that there is a common need to combat extremism and terrorism, and hoped that the forum would take firmer steps in this direction, adding that: "no goal or grievance can justify terrorism".
Stating that adaptive capacities for dealing with problems like climate change and other cross sector stresses remained limited in the Asian context, he said that taken together with the persistence of terrorism and onward proliferation of nuclear weapons-related technologies, the security challenges that Asia faced required reinforcement of comprehensive approaches and placed an obligation on member states to devise collaborative strategies aimed at deepening cooperation on dealing with this threat and other concerns.
He said that the adoption of the "Declaration on Eliminating Terrorism and Promoting Dialogue Among Civilizations" in 2002 was one step in the right direction, but added that many more such initiatives were needed to make this interaction result-oriented.
Sharma also welcomed the entry of Jordan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to the CICA fold, saying that India shared "age-old civilizational and historical links with both of these countries.
He also described the two decades since the end of the Cold War as a period of significant change, of new opportunities and new challenges. He said that fundamental shifts were underway in the global distribution of economic and political power, and therefore the complexities of the present "demand an orderly transformation and recasting of the world order" reflecting the "realities and the urges of our age in which globalization is moving ahead. He insisted that in the present world context, Asia has a prominent part to play, and added that such a role should be "inclusive, just and equitable".
Talking to ANI on the sidelines of the summit, Sharma informed that India has noted and activated draft confidence building measures in the fields of information technology and energy security with South Korea and a similar arrangement in the area of transportation corridors that were secure and effective with the Republic of Azerbaijan.
He said that India would continue to actively participate in the CICA with the express objective of promoting a "pan-Asian dialogue on a cooperation mechanism on security issues.
"We need to concentrate on simple and uncomplicated issues for cooperation and focus on CBMs that are practical and achievable and at a pace comfortable to all.
While stating that India believed that it could help the CICA develop a "cooperative and pluralistic security order in Asia based on mutual understanding, trust and sovereign equality", Sharma said there was a need to be mindful of the "diversity and heterogeneity" that prevailed in the systems of CICA member states.
Therefore, the replication of models successful elsewhere, may not be so successful in the CICA context, he added.
It was therefore imperative on the part of CICA to evolve its own approach, "rooted in the realities of Asia, adding that only by evolving reliable ground rules, could CICA "effectively promote peace and security in Asia and help reconcile the diverse concerns and interests of its member states".
"Deeper and broader Asian cooperation, with an emphasis on dialogue, holds the key to understanding the full potential of Asia for peace and development, both in our continent and around the world," Sharma said, adding that New Delhi would be hosting the next round of the CICA Special Working Group/Senior Officials Committee (SWG/SOC) meetings between February 18 and 20, 2009.
Kazakhstan Deputy Foreign Minister Nurlan Yermekbayev told ANI in an interview that the CICA CBMs had now gone beyond the traditional concepts, and CICA member states have recognized the inter-dependence and inter-connectivity of the 21st century. The five CBMS determined in the 2006 summit were now in the implementation stag, he said.
Yermekbayev also said that that the CICA Secretariat has decided to hold the majority of its events outside Kazakhstan - in Tehran, Ankara, Moscow, Tel Aviv, the Kyrgyz Republic (expert meetings), and Seoul and New Delhi (Special Working Groups/Senior Officials Committee meetings).
Responding to a question on how he saw CICA promoting interactions with other regional multi-lateral organizations like the Shanghai Cooperation (SCO) and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), he said that such an interaction could take place through a merger between CICA and the Asian Cooperation Dialogue, but at the same time efforts would continue to supplement these initiatives from the CICA platform as well.