Experts advocate ‘cooperative geopolitics’ with Central AsiaJanuary 18th, 2012 - 6:05 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Jan 18 (IANS) “Cooperative geopolitics” should be the crux of India’s foreign policy with energy-rich Central Asia, an international conference here on increasing this country’s linkages with the region has concluded.
The need for strong bilateral relations with Central Asian countries, development of long-term strategies for economic, trade, transportation and energy ties between India and the Central Asian region and the need for stronger engagement of the Indian private sector with the region were the other important recommendations made at the two-day conference that concluded Tuesday.
The conference, ‘Energy, Transportation and Economic Links with Eurasia: Emerging Partnerships’, was jointly organised by the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) and the external affairs ministry. The Eurasian region also includes countries like Russia and China.
The conference concluded that India should look at Central Asia not only for trade and commerce but also work towards forging regional partnerships with countries in the area.
Several new ideas to deepen Indian connectivity with the region were thrown up. It was suggested that Jammu and Kashmir’s trade, tourism and central links with Central Asia should be revived.
Experts highlighted the need for India to invest in rail, road and port infrastructure in Iran, particularly at Chabahar and Bandar Abbas.
It was also suggested that India build long-term partnerships, going beyond energy and transportation and focussing on capacity building and soft power projects.
Earlier, chairing the session on ‘Partnerships with Central Asia: Opportunities and Challenges’, former foreign secretary K. Raghunath said there was no dearth of natural and human resources in Central Asian countries. There was, however, a need for exploiting this untapped potential of the region.
The session concentrated on economic cooperation between India and the five Central Asian nations - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan - especially in the sectors of energy, transport and communications.
Speaking on India-Turkmenistan relations, Ambassador Parakhat H. Durdyev said that despite their deep historical and cultural bonds, their trade volume was present low and needs to be enhanced.
Darya Mukhamejanova, senior fellow at the Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies, also spoke on the need of greater linkages between the Central Asian and South Asian countries.
Speaking on Tajikistan’s hydropower resources and transport facilities, Abdunabi Sattorov of Dushanbe’s Centre for Strategic Research said India could play a significant role in providing engineering expertise in developing hydro power plants in his country.
Shukhrat Rakhmanov, dean of the international law department at Tashkent’s University of World Economy and Diplomacy, elaborated on the improving economic ties between India and Uzbekistan, especially in sectors like IT, energy, transportation and telecommunications. He also pointed that Iran could play a significant role in connecting India to Central Asia.
The possibility of Afghanistan emerging as a hub, connecting central, south and west Asia was also discussed. Sham Bathija, the economic advisor to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, expressed hope that the country’s central location would prove beneficial in this regard.
Sixteen experts from all the Central Asian republics, Mongolia, Russia, Japan, the EU, China, Turkey, Iran, the US and international organisations like the ADB/ESCAP attended the conference. There were also 11 Indian speakers.
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