By Ashok Dixit
Almaty, Aug.27 : Although India only has an "Observer" status at the Almaty-based 20-member Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) forum for the past three-and-a-half years, the Executive Director of the CICA Secretariat believes that New Delhi's representation and presence is significant for the Asian region, both in the short and long term.
Speaking exclusively to ANI, D. Bakishev said: "India is making a very important contribution for the development of our forum. It is one of the biggest and the most influential countries of the world, and having it onboard is very important.
New Delhi's decision to second a diplomat (A.K. Pandey) to represent it on the forum's secretariat was laudable. The former Kazakh envoy to South Korea said that in his experience, Indian diplomats possess an "intellectual capability" rarely found in others of their ilk, and added that he was looking forward to New Delhi hosting the Special Working Groups and Senior Officials meetings of CICA in February next year.
Suggesting that without India, the regional forum would have had a different or lesser impact on international relations, Ambassador Bakishev said that the CICA philosophy is to act step by step, perform as "gradualists" on issues of mutual concern to the Asian region.
"Action plans have been submitted by various member states. They relate to human dimensions, the fight against terrorism and transnational crimes, non-security challenges like drug trafficking. CICA has a heterogeneous membership and this is an asset. When you have a homogeneous forum, you can decide on important issues, but on the other hand, the fact is that we have different countries, different cultures, we are dealing with different confidence building measures, and this is the backbone of our institution," said Bakishev.
The CICA Secretariat he further claimed is doing very well, and has already signed some very significant regional cooperative and collaborative documents, and "have an agreed approach to our common tasks.".
It functioned purely on the principle of consensus, possessed a unique membership that did not believe in imposing or promoting rigidity. "Trust and confidence needs time to build and each member country has been assigned specific areas, based on its competence and past record in that particular sphere," he said. For instance, Iran is the coordinator for tackling challenges emerging from narco-trafficking and terrorism, Turkey has been given the responsibility for new challenges and so on and so forth.
CICA is functioning in a complex world, and current challenges can only be met by uniting countries.
"We don't want to duplicate other regional entities. The intellectual capability of our forum has to be seen to be different. We are at a stage where we are developing mechanisms and action plans. Where they will lead, I don't know. We are looking to build trust and promote common interaction among member states. As far as time lines are concerned, my view is that the experiences one forum cannot be used in another's context," Bashikov said.
When asked whether he saw Asia ever replicating the European Union model in the future, he said Europe is an outstanding example of what can be achieved through unity and common understanding. However in the Asian context, he opined that only when there is "goodwill and collective security, we can think of conditions for releasing a more prosperous and unique region".
Steps in this direction were being taken in the fields of human resources, natural resources and energy, he said, adding that as military dynamics is concerned, it is up to the member states to decide on the path to follow.