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C5+1 Can Enhance Regional Cooperation Amid Geopolitical Turmoil

Kazakh Deputy Prime Minister – Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tileuberdi reiterated that the C5+1 states share common political will to enhance regional cooperation and increase mutual resilience in the face of geopolitical uncertainties.

This was stated in his opening remarks before the start of the C5+1 ministerial meeting in Astana on February 28. 

The meeting addressed economic and energy cooperation, climate change, counter-terrorism, among other issues. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Foreign Minister of Kyrgyzstan Jeenbek Kulubaev, Foreign Minister of Tajikistan Sirodzhiddin Mukhriddin, Foreign Minister of Turkmenistan Rashid Meredov, and Foreign Minister of Uzbekistan Bakhtiyor Saidov attended the meeting.

The C5+1 diplomatic platform reflects efforts to enhance the U.S. government’s engagement with Central Asia, involving all five states – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Since its launch in 2015, the C5+1 has established itself as an effective mechanism of regional cooperation. 

Tileuberdi added Kazakhstan would continue its multi-vector and balanced foreign policy. 

“In this respect, both Central Asia and the United States are major priorities for us, which makes C5+1 even more relevant for Kazakhstan as a host,” he said. 

(From left to right) Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Kulubaev, Tajik Foreign Minister Mukhriddin, U.S. Secretary Blinken, Kazakh Foreign Minister Tileuberdi, Turkmen Foreign Minister Meredov and Uzbek Foreign Minister Saidov on Feb. 28 in Astana. Photo credit: MFA press service.

Tileuberdi added the C5+1 platform has matured into an important tool due to the efforts of Central Asian countries and the U.S. 

He noted the successful work of the C5+1 virtual secretariat, which was established in September to coordinate efforts and streamline collaborative activities of the existing working groups on security, economy, and environment. He stressed, however, that the countries need to move forward with C5+1 institutional development.

Tileuberdi proposed that think tanks from all participating sides collaborate on a shared vision for the future growth of the C5+1 in the coming years. Tileuberdi also addressed the restoration of disrupted supply chains by forming new alternative trading routes.

The Kazakh minister stressed that C5+1 provides an excellent platform for accessing U.S. investments and cutting-edge technologies in the sphere of climate change and smart water management, as well as technical skill training and study of the English language for Central Asian youth to make them more competitive in the 21st century.

“This is important while we establish small and medium enterprises as a key factor for wider economic prosperity. The expectation from the public is to deliver tangible results to our citizens so that they can reap the benefits from such diplomatic platforms,” Tileuberdi said.      

The minister also highlighted that regular meetings of five Central Asian leaders encouraged joint economic activities, bringing intra-regional trade in the region to nearly $8 billion in 2022, a 25 percent rise.

The minister said Kazakhstan cherishes partnership within the C5+1 platform and is committed to its development. He invited the delegations to participate in the Astana International Forum in June.       

During a press briefing after the C5+1 meeting, Antony Blinken emphasized that the U.S. appreciates Kazakhstan’s leadership in Central Asia and thanked the country for hosting the meeting.

“The C5+1 is an increasingly important platform. Central Asian governments are strongest when they work together to address common challenges and shape their own future. The United States aspires to be a steadfast partner in those efforts,” he said. 

Secretary Blinken held several bilateral meetings on the margins of the meeting with foreign ministers of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan. Blinken reiterated the United States’ support for the countries’ sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity.

Source : Astana Times