OSCE Chairman Ian Borg Concludes Central Asia Trip: Focus on Regional Cooperation and Security

PeopleDiplomats ♦ Published: July 4, 2024; 10:39 ♦ (Vindobona)

In an intensive diplomatic mission, the Chairman of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) and Maltese Foreign and European Affairs Minister Ian Borg visited the Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. The trip aimed to strengthen cooperation and emphasize the role of the OSCE in tackling regional security challenges.

Ian Borg, the OSCE Chair-in-Office and Minister for Foreign and European Affairs and Trade of Malta, visited Tajikistan. / Picture: © OSCE / ID 571654, (CC BY-ND 4.0)

OSCE Chairman Ian Borg concluded his tour of Central Asia by emphasizing the importance of regional cooperation and security initiatives. Central Asia plays an important role in international politics and economics for several reasons. Firstly, the region lies at the crossroads of important trade routes between Europe and Asia. Central Asia is a hub for the New Silk Road, which was initiated by China to promote trade and infrastructure projects in Eurasia. This makes the region a strategic area for trade and economic cooperation.

In addition, the Central Asian countries, especially Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, have large reserves of oil, natural gas, and other valuable raw materials. These resources are of great importance for energy supply and industrial production worldwide. Another key aspect is the security situation. Central Asia borders on unstable regions such as Afghanistan. The security situation in Central Asia has a direct impact on regional and global stability, particularly concerning terrorism, drug trafficking, and other cross-border crimes. International organizations such as the OSCE are working closely with Central Asian states to address these challenges.

Many countries in Central Asia are in the process of political and economic reform. International support and cooperation are crucial to promote democratization processes, human rights, and good governance. The promotion of political reforms and respect for human rights are key concerns of the international community in this region. The combination of these factors makes Central Asia a key region for international relations, especially for the OSCE, economic development, and security strategies.

Kazakhstan: Democratic reforms and regional security

Minister Borg's visit to Kazakhstan began with meetings with high-level government representatives, including President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and the Chairman of the Senate, Maulen Ashimbayev. Mr. Borg praised Kazakhstan's comprehensive reform agenda, which reflects many key OSCE commitments, such as strengthening democratic institutions, improving governance, and ensuring human rights.

"The OSCE remains firmly committed to supporting Kazakhstan in implementing these important reforms," Borg emphasized. He also highlighted the country's active role in addressing regional challenges and promoting connectivity in Central Asia. Borg underlined that the most effective solution to security risks lies in a regional approach and emphasized successful cooperation in combating human trafficking and improving border management.

Tajikistan: border security and human rights

In Tajikistan, Borg met with President Emomali Rahmon and Foreign Minister Sirojiddin Muhriddin. He reaffirmed the OSCE's long-standing cooperative relationship with Tajikistan, which covers a wide range of issues from countering extremism to promoting human rights and gender equality.

A particular focus was on security initiatives on Tajikistan's southern border with Afghanistan. Borg visited the Border Management Staff College and emphasized the importance of the regional security initiatives and high-quality training supported by the OSCE.

Kyrgyzstan: Education and regional networking

Minister Borg's last stop was Kyrgyzstan, where he met with President Sadyr Shaparov and other high-ranking officials. He emphasized the important role of the OSCE Academy in Bishkek, which provides high-quality education for students from Central Asia and beyond. "The OSCE Academy is one of our flagship projects in the region, promoting OSCE values and acting as a public forum for security, connectivity, rule of law and good governance in Central Asia," Borg said.

During his trip, Borg repeatedly emphasized the need for enhanced regional cooperation and development. "Results-oriented and demand-driven approaches are crucial for an effective response to transnational threats," he said. He also highlighted the OSCE's ongoing efforts to promote regional solutions to climate risks and to strengthen anti-trafficking measures through concrete exercises.

During all his visits, Borg also met with civil society representatives and thanked OSCE staff for their hard work and commitment. "A free and independent civil society is essential for the full respect of human rights, fundamental freedoms, democracy, and the rule of law," he said in Tajikistan.

Minister Borg's trip underscores the OSCE's continued commitment to promoting security and cooperation in Central Asia by supporting reforms and strengthening regional security initiatives.