Addressing the press conference after the Central Asian summit, Kazakh President stressed the importance of solving the issues of using transboundary water resources and pointed to the necessity of developing mutual trade, noting that local traders preferred to import fruits from Israel rather than from across the border.

Four Central Asian presidents yesterday met in Kazakhstan for the first regional summit in almost a decade. 

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev hosted Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon and Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev at the March 15 meeting in Astana.

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov stayed away and Turkmenistan was represented by Turkmenistan’s parliament chief, Akja Nurberdyeva.

According to some media outlets, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, did not attend because of a previously planned official visit to Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

Instead, Turkmenistan was reportedly represented by a large delegation, including the president’s son, who chairs the country’s parliamentary foreign affairs committee.

The summit was proposed by Uzbek President Mirziyoyev. 

The summit was officially called a “consultative meeting.”  According to some sources, yesterday’s summit was called so in order not to raise eyebrows in Moscow.  No documents from the meeting were reportedly adopted

Addressing the press conference after the summit, Kazakh leader paid tribute to Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, stressing that he had been the initiator of the leaders’ meeting.

The press conference was shown on national TV stations 

Speaking at the press conference, Nazarbayev stressed the importance of addressing the issues of using transboundary water resources on the basis of common legal positions, mutual respect and respect for the interests of all parties.

Nazarbayev praised the initiative of Tajik President Emomali Rahmon to organize a high-level conference on water and sustainable development in Dushanbe in June.

Nazarbayev said, over the past 10 years, the average GDP growth in Central Asia was 6.2%, well above the world average of 2.6% in the same period.  However, he noted that this was not reflected in mutual trade, giving as an example that local traders preferred to import fruits from Israel rather than from across the border.

Kazakh leader noted that nobody could solve better inter-regional problems in Central Asia better than the Central Asian countries themselves.

Nazarbayev also pointed to the need for economies to switch to a new innovative digital platform while noting the importance of optimizing tariff policy and simplifying administrative procedures for transit traffic.

Kazakh leader noted that all the Central Asia’s nations are member of the CIS and the majority of them are member nations of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and some of them are member nations of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).  According to him, their mutual cooperation will not affect their participation in those organizations. 

Nazarbayev praised the active economic cooperation of all countries of Central Asia with the Russian Federation and with China.

Regarding a follow-up at the highest level, Nazarbayev said the leaders had decided to meet annually ahead of the Navrouz (Nowruz) holiday, which is marked in Central Asia on the vernal equinox, as a sign of spring, which falls between 20 March and 23 March.

Next year’s Central Asia summit will be held in Tashkent, Nazarbayev said.

According to EURACTIV, EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini is expected to take part in the next meeting of the five Central Asian countries that will take place in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, on 26 March.  The next meeting will be entirely dedicated to the situation in Afghanistan, EURACTIV said.