Central Asia Ministerial

The foreign ministers of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan met recently in Washington with Secretary of State John Kerry to discuss cooperation on the challenges of economic prosperity, environmental protection and climate change, and global security in the Central Asia region. It was the second meeting of the C5+1 at the ministerial level; the first took place last November in the ancient Silk Road city of Samarkand.

At the ministerial in Washington, Secretary of State John Kerry referred to the C5+1 Group as a “vital platform for action designed to protect our citizens, build shared prosperity and strengthen the diplomatic ties between us.”

“Today, we hope to make further progress through a new regional approach built around initiatives on counterterrorism, trade and investment, economic development and clean energy.”

Secretary Kerry outlined five projects the C5+1 has agreed to launch, which the United States plans to support with $15 million in aid, pending Congressional notification.

The first is a dialogue within the Global Counterterrorism Forum to assist Central Asian states in combating radicalization to violence and reducing the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters. The second seeks to make it easier for businesses in Central Asia to increase exports and enter new markets. A third project centers on improving the transportation and logistics sectors that are essential to a healthy and dynamic marketplace. The fourth and fifth, Secretary Kerry said, are aimed at assisting the five Central Asia countries to develop cleaner renewable energy sources to power the future, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Secretary Kerry said cooperation in each of these key areas is essential, but he emphasized that dialogue with the group is expected continue about other areas of concern, including the need for transparency and accountability in governance and the importance of human rights, such as freedom of religion, expression, and association.

Secretary Kerry said that all the measures discussed at the Ministerial have one goal in mind: a region that is secure, prosperous and stable. And each, he said, is based on a fundamental principle of U.S. foreign policy, “that we support without hesitation the sovereignty, the territorial integrity and the independence of each Central Asian state.”

“Meeting our shared aims is going to demand a common effort,” Secretary of State Kerry said to the foreign ministers, one that is intended to “help form the foundation of a lasting partnership between the United States and your countries.”