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C5 + 1 format is new chance for countries of Central Asia

22 March 2020

Chairman of the Board of the Kyrgyz Council on Foreign Relations and Security (Kyrgyz Kenesh) Edil Osmonbetov in an interview to Kabar News Agency told what the C5 + 1 format is, what it brings for Central Asian countries and what its prospects are.

Meeting with US Assistant Secretary of State for Central Asia Jonathan Henick.

The political scientist said that the C5 + 1 format is a diplomatic format, and its distinctive feature is that this is the new focus of the US strategy for Central Asia, which was announced in Tashkent in February 2020 by US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo.

“It coincides with the three phases. First, C5 + 1 allows to cover all countries in the region. Other formats, such as the CSTO, SCO and the EAEU, do not include all the countries of Central Asia, but the C5 + 1 format, like a diplomatic format, it includes all of them. It also encourages regional integration, trade, and investment. And the most important thing is that it helps to develop a common agenda for all countries in our region,” said the political scientist.

The Kyrgyz expert said that due to a change in the current political situation, in 2018 the C5 + 1 format showed that the Central Asian countries are striving for integration and now this format is turning into a full-fledged C5.

“That is, if before they did not have an internal desire for integration, then now it has appeared and we see that the United States encourages regional integration,” Osmonbetov said.

He added that this suggests that two possibilities coincide: a new geopolitical situation in Central Asia, expressed in the desire for cooperation without external players, and US assistance in the formation of regional interests.

The political scientist noted that it is important that C5 + 1 is an elastic structure that allows the countries of the region to work in the direction that is beneficial to them. “It is worth adding that it is always emphasized here that the United States does not put the Central Asian countries in front of a tough choice of cooperation with only one specific country. The C5 + 1 format and the US strategy allow maintaining the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the countries of the region, and this is the most important thing. Also, the need to maintain the sovereignty and geopolitical multi-vectority of the countries of the region is emphasized everywhere,” the Chairman of the Board of the Kyrgyz Council emphasized.

Edil Osmonbetov added that the USA, as one of the main players in the region, allows to receive investments, new technologies, which is very important in the age of globalization and digitalization.

“That is, it opens up new opportunities for all countries of Central Asia, compared to what it was before,” he said.

The political scientist noted that a stable and prosperous Central Asia will allow to passionately influence Afghanistan, the Caucasus, the Middle East, and solve issues of security, terrorism, and extremism. “Also, the C5 + 1 format allows the countries of the region to feel more confident, and of course, this will allow the countries of the region to work out several common agendas aimed at future development. This is very important, since in the period of globalization, the reverse side of which is regionalization, and here, of course, the C5 + 1 format is a factor in Central Asia in resolving common issues,” said the political scientist.

Another important issue, Osmonbetov said, is that the interests of each country in the region are combined in the C5 + 1 format and their positions are developed.

“National interests are also clearly articulated, which subsequently allows us to pragmatically develop common steps and actions in such things as transit, security and the development of democratic processes,” said the Chairman of the Board of Kyrgyz Council.

In conclusion, the political scientist added that C5 + 1 is not limited to the general economic theme, but there are also human rights there, and most importantly, the Central Asian countries can increase their geopolitical weight in order to understand where they are moving in the age of globalization. “And here, by this we see the coincidence of two interests,” said Edil Osmonbetov.