In Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Mr. Appathurai met with President Otunbayeva and other high-level officials, including Deputy Foreign Minister Dinara Kemelova and Defence Minister Kudayberdiyev. The discussions covered issues such as regional security and the expansion of practical cooperation programmes, especially in the area of security sector reform, as well as the possibility of placing the NATO Liaison Officer for the region in Bishkek, although the Deputy Assistant Secretary General emphasised that "the final decision on the opening of a NATO office in Kyrgyzstan has not been taken yet."
Following up on a meeting between the President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at NATO Headquarters in January 2011, the DASG also held a series of high-level meetings in Tashkent. As well as meeting with members of the Senate and Legislative Chamber, the Deputy Assistant Secretary General met with the Ministers of Defence and Foreign Affairs to discuss ways in which NATO could provide assistance in areas such as defence and security reform.
In a lecture to students at the University of World Economy and Diplomacy in Tashkent, Mr. Appathurai focused on the importance of NATO’s collaboration with its Central Asian partners, and held an exchange of views on how to deepen cooperation between NATO and Uzbekistan in support of the Afghan mission.. “We can only address these issues through concerted international cooperation--Central Asia is a crucial part of these efforts,” he said.
In Astana, Kazakhstan, he met with the Deputy Head of the National Security Council Kozy-Korpesh Dzanburchin, Deputy Defence Minister Saken Zhasuzakov and the members of the Parliament and the Senate. The discussions focused on bilateral cooperation issues including the drafting of the new IPAP document for 2013-2014, transit arrangments, as well as Kazakhstan’s potential contribution to ISAF.
Round-table discussions were held in each of the cities visited, allowing for an open dialogue among participants. Mr. Appathurai said, “While NATO and other important external players, and regional organizations may differ on methods and approach, we all share the same goal: improving the security and stability of the region”.
NATO’s commitment to continued cooperation with countries in Central Asia will be reinforced when the DASG visits Turkmenistan and Tajikistan in June this year.