Press Releases

    5 June 2002


    NEW YORK, 4 June (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message to the summit meeting of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-building in Asia (CICA), delivered on his behalf by Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Danilo Turk in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on 4 June:

    I am very pleased to convey my best wishes for the success of this summit meeting, which can play an important role in shaping the future architecture of cooperation and confidence-building in Asia.

    The geopolitical changes which took place in Eurasia in the early 1990s provided a unique opportunity to strengthen security in Asia in all its dimensions -- political, military, economic, and environmental. The Conference on Interaction and Confidence-building in Asia has developed into an increasingly important regional security forum with 16 member States and nine observers from Asia, North America, Oceania and Europe.

    Through years of consultations and patient effort, member States have accumulated valuable experience in dialogue and cooperation, developed mutual understanding, resolved many differences and reached consensus on a range of issues. By strengthening the sense of a collective responsibility for a common future, Asian nations will be able to confront threats to peace and security more effectively, ensure dynamic economic and social development, and provide a better life for 3.5 billion people on the Asian continent.

    The remarkable progress achieved by you in the institutionalization of the CICA process is a welcome development. We at the United Nations are looking forward to multifaceted cooperation with this new regional partner. The United Nations, with its global responsibilities, is not always best placed to take the lead. Sometimes, other actors at the local, national or regional level are in a better position to do so.

    The past decade has brought many countries in Asia to the verge of unprecedented economic success and prosperity. Others are working hard to find ways to realize their great potential. However, the promise of development, prosperity and the advancement of universal human values could be threatened by war and conflict -- and today, I refer specifically to the deeply worrying tensions between India and Pakistan. The entire continent would be deeply affected by any new conflict or instability. Therefore, patience and political prudence must prevail, and a broad range of prevention tools should be applied.

    The aim of conflict prevention must be not merely to postpone violence for a few weeks or months, but to build the foundations of sustainable peace. This requires a comprehensive prevention strategy which encompasses a range of instruments, from the political to the diplomatic, humanitarian and developmental.

    A similarly comprehensive strategy needs to be developed to combat the menace of terrorism. In this context, it is important to ensure not only a vigorous response to terrorism, but also to give greater urgency to our developmental and humanitarian tasks, to address issues such as poverty, economic inequality and political exclusion, which can lead to extremism. Here, I am thinking in particular of the need to ensure sustained and long-term political and economic assistance to Afghanistan as it emerges from years of anarchy and instability.

    This timely summit is evidence that a wide variety of nations can work together in practical ways to promote common security and stability. Let me once again congratulate you on this summit and wish you all success in your deliberations.

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