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US, Russia marching on Central Asia

By Sergei Blagov
MOSCOW - During a brief stopover in Bishkek, the Kyrgyz capital, on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin endorsed Russian deployment of fighter jets, bombers and other aircraft in that country. The move is obviously designed to reassert Russia's military influence in a region where the United States has its own semi-permanent military presence with bases in also in Kyrgyzstan as well as Uzbekistan.

On Wednesday, Putin told journalists in Bishkek that Russian air force deployment was very important and brought "a new quality" to security arrangements in the region. Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev urged Russia to become a "main strategic cornerstone of Central Asia".

Russian and Kyrgyz officials also signed the Bishkek Declaration, pledging closer security and economic ties. This agreement is not directed against third countries, Putin was quoted as saying. A deal to write off some million of Kyrgyz debt to Moscow was also agreed to.

On December 2, two Su-25 attack jets and two Il-76 military transport planes (along with 70 troops to establish air traffic control systems and provide security) arrived from neighboring Tajikistan and landed at a military airfield in Kant, about 20 kilometers east of Bishkek.

And on December 4, three Su-27 fighter jets arrived from the Lipetsk base in Central Russia. Incidentally, one of them, plane No 17, is dubbed the "presidential aircraft" by Russian pilots because Putin used this plane to fly over Chechnya in an unprecedented public relations exercise two years ago.

Although the three Su-27 fighter jets are to return to Lipetsk soon, the two Su-25 are to stay. This symbolic presence is the vanguard of a force that will ultimately include more than 20 Russian aircraft and more than 700 troops, eventually to become the most significant outside Russia's borders since the Soviet collapse in 1991.

In all, Russia plans to deploy five Su-25 attack jets, five Su-27 fighters, two An-26 transports, two Il-76 transports, five L-39 training jets and two Mi-8 helicopters at Kant, according to RIA, the official Russian news agency. The Russian aircraft will form the core of the air unit based at Kant.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov arrived in Kyrgyzstan on December 4 to inspect Kant base. He announced that the Russian task force was to provide the air power for a contingent of ground forces. Known as a rapid reaction force, this group could total more than 5,000 troops from Russia, as well as from Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan, members of an alliance of former Soviet republics known as the Collective Security Treaty Organization. Ivanov also dismissed rumors that Russian deployment would cost up to US million a year.

The Russian deployment comes against a backdrop of recent protests in southern Kyrgyzstan, provoked by a controversial border treaty under which Kyrgyzstan agrees to transfer some 95,000 hectares of its territory to China in an attempt to settle a long-running border dispute over land. The Russian deployment now means that Kyrgyzstan is host to two foreign air bases, the other being the US facility at Manas, a Bishkek suburb.

The US base, which was established in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks, is designed to provide air support for regional operations by the anti-terrorism coalition in Afghanistan. Some 2,000 American personnel now occupy Manas and up to 5,000 coalition soldiers are expected to be based there eventually. Although this force could help Kyrgyz authorities to deal with terrorist threats, coalition troops are unlikely to back the government in disputes with the opposition.

The security deal between Moscow and Bishkek arguably indicates that the US has failed to provide sufficient support to the Akayev administration in terms of security needs and domestic political problems with the opposition. Therefore, Akayev is now increasingly depending on Russian backing, military, political and financial.

Russia and Kyrgyzstan have maintained close political and military ties, and Akayev has tended to support the Kremlin's policies in the region. In response, Moscow has backed Akayev's regime and warned against interference in Kyrgyz internal affairs.

However, Moscow carefully denied that the Russian deployment in Kyrgyzstan was anti-American. Nobody was going to push the Americans from Central Asia or try a strategic encirclement, the RIA commented. But now Russia, as well as China and India, realized that the Americans were unable to clear the region from terrorism, according to RIA. It was not impossible that Russian troops could eventually need to defend the Americans in the event of worst-case scenarios, the agency said.

As Putin traveled to China on December 1-3 and India on December 3-5, speculation re-surfaced about the three countries ganging up together to form a China-India-Russia "strategic triangle" to help balance the global dominance of the United States. However, Russian experts concede that such a triangle appeared unlikely to materialize since Russia, China and India were keen to strengthen good relations with Washington and they have backed the US war on terror.

The idea of the strategic triangle was first spelled out by former Russian chief diplomat and then prime minister Yevgeny Primakov back in 1998. Primakov, a veteran Middle East expert and former chief of Russia's main intelligence agency, was widely seen as a leading proponent of Moscow's pro-Asian and anti-American policy.

So far both China and India have distanced themselves from the idea of an India-Russia-China strategic axis. However, foreign ministers of the three countries met on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session in New York in September for trilateral informal talks. It has been understood that such meetings would be held regularly.

In 1998, Primakov's "strategic triangle" concept as a counterbalance to US dominance was little more than a bold vision, RIA said earlier this week. However, by December 2002 the situation had changed dramatically and the Moscow-Bejing-New Delhi axis was becoming more realistic, yet without its anti-US agenda, the agency added.

But although the "strategic triangle" concept still has some supporters in Moscow, Putin's Asian tour come in the wake of improved relations with the West by supporting the US war on terror and tacitly accepting NATO's eastward expansion. Therefore, the "strategic triangle" idea is unlikely to become Russia's official policy at this stage, indicating that Moscow wants partners in both the East and West. /// Asia Times, 7 December 2002


Afghanistan: The road to prosperity

By Antoine Blua
PRAGUE - As repair work begins on Afghanistan's devastated highway system, the focus is on the restoration of the so-called "ring roads" connecting major Afghan cities such as Kabul, Kandahar, Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif. The reconstruction of the 2,400-kilometer ring roads is proceeding in tandem with an additional 700 kilometers of roads linking Afghanistan to Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

Observers say that these projects, if and when they are completed, are likely to have a major economic, political and social impact on Afghanistan and the wider regions of Central and South Asia.

Frank Polman is Afghanistan program director at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Manila. He says that the ring-road project should be completed in about two years. "Two sections of these roads' implementation started just about [two weeks] ago. One is from [Kandahar] to Spin Boldak, that is just at the border of Pakistan - that is one of the international link roads. And the other one is running from Kabul to Kandahar; that is a major section of the ring road."

Most of the roads are already in place. But two decades of conflict have left just 17 percent of the country's 6,000 kilometers of roads in good condition. The ADB says that it will cost some US million to reconstruct the ring roads and international links. The primary backers so far are the ADB, the World Bank, the United States, the EU and Saudi Arabia.

Polman said that the international community's commitment had allowed the road project to move quickly. "The time that an institution like the ADB normally requires to get road construction projects started is way, way longer than what we do in Afghanistan. Normally speaking, between a request for assistance and actual implementation takes - for the ADB - about two years. In Afghanistan, we have been able to start our first road project within six months."

How fast projects can move ahead, Polman stresses, is essentially determined by a country's political stability and security situation. Moreover, the ADB official says, better roads will further contribute to Afghanistan's stability by providing jobs, increasing trade and reducing the distance between the central government and the regions.

Beyond Afghanistan, Polman said that the Central Asian governments had a keen interest in seeing road links re-established. "Well, I think the Central Asian republics would like to see an access [route] through Afghanistan, Pakistan, to some port in the Indian Ocean. They also would like to see goods transported from the Central Asian republics into Afghanistan, Pakistan, and also India and China. Afghanistan constitutes historically a very strategic location for the transfer of goods and trade in that part of the world."

A spokesman from Tajikistan's Transport Ministry, Muhammadyusuf Shodiev, explains what the completion of road links with Afghanistan means for his country. "Passing from Tajikistan to Afghanistan, and from there to Iran, would certainly be another move to break Tajikistan's isolation. All the Central Asian countries are trying to build as many international-standard highways as possible between their nations."

Hasan-Askari Rizvi, an independent political analyst based in Pakistan, says that the rehabilitation of the Afghan roads will lead to a "tremendous increase" of trade between Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and the Central Asian states. "The trade will improve. For example, agricultural goods will go to Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, there is a shortage of agricultural goods like wheat [and] rice. Similarly, Afghanistan can send handicrafts and fruit - dry fruit - back to the neighboring states. So I think if this project is completed, this will benefit the people of all these countries."

Furthermore, Rizvi says, the development of trade across the region may have an indirect positive impact on relations between Pakistan and India. "If the trade between Pakistan, Afghanistan, [and] Central Asia improves because of these roads, this will be an incentive for India to improve India-Pakistan relations, and benefit from the new opportunities these roads would provide."

Aftab Kazi, a researcher at the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute at Johns Hopkins University, agreed. He said that he was enthusiastic about the ring-road project. "Number one, it's a major effort to reconstruct Afghanistan. Number two, it is an attempt to break the isolation of the Central Asian region. Three, it will revive all the trade and other transportation networks. And then also it will add a new process of regional political socialization."

Regionally, Kazi said, the ring roads and their international links would help revitalize a major portion of the historical Silk routes. Road links in the north, he says, would connect Afghanistan with the Soviet-era road network providing substantial trade and development opportunities between Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Kazi added that an effective new transport network was also likely to give additional impetus for oil and gas pipeline construction.

Indeed, an ambitious project to build a gas pipeline linking Turkmenistan to Pakistan through Afghanistan is expected to be launched next month at a summit in Ashkhabad, the Turkmen capital, Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov said on Tuesday, according to state television.

Niyazov invited his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai to attend a three-way summit in Ashkhabad on December 26-27, the television network reported. Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf also is expected to attend, it said. The three presidents had been due to sign the agreement in October, but the summit was delayed at the request of Musharraf.

The project to build the 1,500-kilometer, billion gas link from Turkmenistan's Dauletabad fields across Afghanistan to Pakistan has been on the table for 20 years and has a long and checkered history. US energy company Unocal led efforts to build the line, but its plans were scuppered in 1998 when US cruise missiles struck al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan, leaving the project apparently aborted.

However, since the fall of the Taliban, the plan has been pushed back onto the energy agenda by regional leaders, who hope it will bring enormous wealth to their impoverished region.

In Afghanistan, roads alone, Kazi said, may not ensure prosperity and stability in Afghanistan. With Afghanistan just beginning the difficult process of building a functioning multicultural nation, the construction of roads should not be evaluated merely in economic terms. New transportation networks, he explained, always had an impact in social, psychological and political ways as well. One particularly key issue that must be considered alongside the road reconstruction, he added, was migration.

Hooman Peimani, a Geneva-based independent consultant, said that he was skeptical about the short-term benefits of the Afghan road projects. He said that the country's continued instability, combined with Central Asia's lack of major trade activities, mean that the roads would not be an immediate jackpot for Afghanistan.

"What is interesting is that [Central Asian] exports are mainly cotton. Countries such as Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan also export oil and gas. And those exports [traveling] via Afghanistan are out of the question because of the instability of that country. And in terms of their products, cotton is now being exported via Iran and I don't think that they need an additional road for the moment."

But in the long run, Peimani says, a stable Afghanistan and stepped-up trade activities in Central Asian states could change the situation for Afghanistan, by using its new road network and transit fees. /// RFE/RL through Asia Times


Tajik paper urges Central Asian leaders to put economic interests over political

Though the Central Asian countries have enormous energy reserves, the major part of the region suffers from a substantial lack of energy, commentator Bobojon Qodirov says. According to experts, the main reason for this is the lack of efficient regional cooperation in the use of its natural reserves, he says. The heads of state in the region take steps towards economic integration first from the point of view of their political interests and geopolitical importance. They are "sacrificing the economic interests of this part of the world for their political malice", the commentator says. He says that the way for development is in regional integration. The following is an excerpt from the report entitled "Central Asia: Do natural resources lead to disputes? "from the Tajik newspaper Tojikiston on 14 November; subheadings as published:

The efficient use of Central Asian natural resources will be a basis for the economic development of the region, say many Europeans who are carrying our various activities in this part of the Asian subcontinent.

[Passage omitted: according to a Kyrgyz analyst, Central Asia does not exist as a political and economic region; the leaders of the Central Asian Cooperation Organization member states sign many documents, but they are not implemented]

Coldness in regional relations
The incorrect use of water resources in Central Asia has caused many environmental crises in the region over the last 50 years. It is possible that the use of the region's water resources may result in the appearance of a certain coldness in diplomatic relations between the Central Asian countries and even change the geopolitical balance in this part of the world. The region's countries in its upper reaches - Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, where major rivers of Central Asia originate on their territories, are demanding from the region's countries in its lower reaches - Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, which use the water resources twice as much as the first two countries, to compensate their expenses for maintaining dams. Kyrgyzstan is determined in this request in its state policy. This country is preserving its water resources in the Toktogul reservoir and also strengthening its energy power. The countries in the lower reaches of the region's rivers are ignoring the request by the countries in the rivers' upper reaches. Uzbek President Islam Karimov has said that "water is God's gift, but gas should be processed".

[Passage omitted: Karimov does not recognize water as a commodity, though people value it as gold in some parts of Uzbekistan; the first interstate agreement on sharing Central Asian water resources was signed in 1995, but the countries have not adopted a common stance yet, because of the lack of legal foundations; a Kazakh expert proposes to deal with water as a commodity; Tajikistan loses nearly 1bn kWh energy supplying water to Uzbekistan; Aral Sea is another problem; international experts believe the region has no water shortage, but needs investment for its sufficient use; the problem has no political settlement]

Electricity, oil and gas
Central Asia does not experience a shortage of natural reserves, particularly reserves of electricity, oil and gas either, but their incorrect use and distribution have resulted in the occurrence of a number of problems that have regional significance. According to the United Nations Special Programme for the Economies of Central Asia (SPECA), the region has 460bn kWh water and energy reserves, but only 10 per cent of this amount is used. The discovered oil reserves of Central Asia amount to nearly 3bn tonnes and the region's gas reserves exceed 6,590 cu m.

Despite the possession of such enormous energy reserves, the major part of the region suffers from a serious shortage of energy. According to experts, the main reason for the shortage of energy is the lack of efficient regional cooperation in the use of these natural reserves. In this field, experts believe that the setting up of a regional market for energy reserves will be a decisive factor in the efficient use of these enormous capacities in Central Asia.

The region's many hydro power stations are in a great need of the repair and replacement of their equipment. Moreover, a serious reform is needed in the management structure of the spheres of power, oil and gas processing in Central Asia. [Passage omitted: the region's countries have not drawn up a new draft on joint use of the reserves; regional integration needed; Tajikistan experiences the shortage of electricity, oil and gas in winter season]

Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have less gas and oil reserves among the Central Asian countries. On the contrary, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan possess a small energy capacity. This natural distribution warns the Central Asian countries that they depend on each other in any case and the way for their development is in regional integration.

Various opinions are expressed from rostrums in the region and outside it at the international level that the leaders of the Central Asian countries are sacrificing the economic interests of this part of the world for their political malice. Although they display a kind of regional accord and unanimity in official meetings, news conferences and the signing of cooperation agreements, in fact the practical process of strengthening political and economic ties between the five Central Asian countries is proceeding slowly. Any advancement made towards economic integration of the region, according to experts, is analysed by every one of the leaders a hundred times with great patience first from the point of view of its political interests and geopolitical importance. The use of the region's national resources is among the region's number one issue at the present stage. It is forecast that the continuation of the situation in this way can make inappropriate the five countries' stances to each other and move miles apart their positions that had gradually come together. /// Tojikiston, Dushanbe, 14 Nov


The isolation of Kazakhstan

By Mark Berniker
Nursultan Nazarbayev, the kingpin and president of Kazakhstan, has spent the past year digging a deep hole for his country. A government crackdown on the Kazakh media coupled with the suppression of political opposition has contributed at least partly to a recent and troubling decline in business conditions - all of which have put the desperately poor Central Asian nation at risk of ever-increasing international isolation.

Sharing borders with Russia, China and the Central Asia states, Kazakhstan is situated squarely at the center of the war Eurasia's place in the war on terrorism between the Middle East and Afghanistan’s frontiers. The European Commission head Romano Prodi on November 29 expressed serious concerns to reporters about "Kazakhstan’s commitment to shared values in the field of democracy, human rights and the rule of law".

Several disturbing developments are casting a dark shadow over Nazarbayev, especially the bizarre detention of Kazakh journalist Sergei Duvanov. Twenty US Congressmen recently sent a letter to President George W Bush speaking out against the controversial arrest of Duvanov, a widely respected critic of Nazarbayev.

Then the prominent Kazakh journalist Nuri Muftakh, the editor-in-chief of Altyn Ghasyr (Golden Century) was hit by a vehicle, and died from his injuries. Muftakh wrote several articles describing the alleged corruption of the Kazakh government and its alleged movement of millions of dollars in oil money to Swiss bank accounts. Also, earlier this year, the daughter of Lira Baysetova, a co-founder of "Respublika 2000" was found dead under mysterious circumstances. These developments have stirred a chorus of outrage, and concern that a ruthless dictator could be connected to the slaughter of several outspoken, and innocent voices of the Kazakh media.

Nazarbayev has gotten away with his alleged blatant human rights violations, but the question is whether the world will stand by and let him continue his crackdown of the Kazakh media and political opposition. And it's not just about the freedom of the media, which is notoriously squelched throughout Central Asia, but importantly the rule of law in Kazakhstan, and the country's credibility as a key geostrategic partner and emerging player in global oil markets.

Just as Nazarbayev is feeling some heat from the international community, the former Communist Party boss is emerging as a key strategic regional ally in the US-led war on terrorism from Afghanistan to Russia, China and the rest of Eurasia. US aid to the five Central Asian states of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan is nearly US million, twice its pre-September 11 level. The US knew that it was taking a risk when it decided to engage Kazakhstan, but decided its strategic importance not only in military operations in Afghanistan, but in the future global petroleum landscape, made it a risk worth taking. Those decisions may prove to be a catastrophic policy misstep by the Bush administration.

And while the Bush administration is engaged, and apparently not outraged with Nazarbayev, it is essentially propping up a morally bankrupt and dangerously repressive regime at an important geopolitical crossroads. The media crackdown and suppression of political dissent is also having its effect on multibillion dollar energy investment projects in Kazakhstan. Several Western firms have scaled back or put on hold future development on oil projects in Kazakhstan.

While the Kazakh government doesn't seem to be softening in its treatment of journalists, or for that matter oil companies, it does derive the bulk of its export revenues from oil. If its failed partnerships with multinational oil firms worsen, there will be a profound impact on the Kazakh economy, and sow the seeds of a domestic political opposition. Perhaps that will harden Nazarbayev’s rule, but it also could isolate Kazakhstan both economically and politically. There are reports that Kazakhstan may be preparing a new law on the mass media, which could drive the Nazarbayev government in an even more repressive direction.

The opposition movement in Kazakhstan is gaining international attention with the case of Sergei Duvanov. The journalist and human rights advocate was detained on October 28, and formally charged on November 7 with raping a 14-year-old girl, an allegation he says that Kazak government security agents trumped up against him. Duvanov’s detention came on the eve of his planned departure to the US to accept an award for his writing and to speak on press freedom at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Duvanov then went on a hunger strike, only to be force-fed after 10 days. Weak and in detention, he wrote on November 6 to thank all of his supporters and to point out other political atrocities by the Kazakh government.

Denissa Duvanova, Sergei’s daughter and a doctoral student at Ohio State University, told the Washington Times on November 15, "This is part of a pattern by the Kazakh government to silence him for what he has written." Duvanov remains in custody and this is not the first run-in with Kazakh authorities. He was also the victim of a still unresolved beating on August 28, just before he was to travel to Warsaw for a meeting on press freedom in Kazakhstan, sponsored by the Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE).

The Bush administration has not officially condemned the Duvanov detention, but US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher recently said that the latest charges against Duvanov were "very serious" and he said that this was not the first time of reports of Nazarbayev’s harassment of journalists. In the November 15 letter to Bush, 20 Congressmen said that the Duvanov case was "the latest manifestation of President Nazarbayev's campaign to silence inconvenient voices in Kazakhstan. Members of the European Parliament, the representative of the media of the OSCE, the International League for Human Rights and the Committee to Protect Journalists all have come out against Kazakhstan's detention of Duvanov."

And it's not just individual journalists who are under siege in Kazakhstan, television stations, magazines and newspapers have been shut down for minor media license infractions. Nazarbayev himself has been under scrutiny since 1996 for alleged corruption and misallocation of funds surrounding the multibillion dollar deal with ChevronTexaco and its partners for development of the Tengiz oil fields. Kazakh Prime Minister Imangali Tasmagambetov told the country’s parliament that a national oil fund sheltered in Swiss bank accounts worth more than $1 billion was controlled by Nazarbayev and was created to stabilize the Kazakh economy in a time of crisis. A Manhattan federal judge, Denny Chin, in September ruled that more than "300,000 pages of documents" were being handed over to a federal grand jury in its investigation of alleged links between New York-based Mercator Corp consultant James Giffen and the reported transfer of million from multinational oil companies to the Swiss bank accounts supposedly connected to Nursultan Nazarbayev and other Kazakh government officials. Nuri Muftakh, the journalist killed by a bus on his way from Shymkent to Almaty, is reported to have been en route to deliver explosive allegations of Kazakh government official involvement in Kazakhgate, the case of misallocated funds to Swiss bank accounts.

Details of the case are "under seal", with no public information available, according to documents and lawyers close to the case. However, Judge Chin did write "a foreign government that is alleged to be the recipient of bribes from an American corporation cannot be permitted to bring a grand jury investigation to a halt". Thus, the international corruption investigation of Mercator and the government of Kazakhstan continues.

US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice was a consultant to Chevron's oil dealings in Kazakhstan, and sources say that US Attorney General John Ashcroft has been criticized for the slow movement in the case forward.

Reporters Without Borders has said it is protesting to the Kazakh embassy in Paris for the detention of Duvanov. The Kazakhstani Forum of Democratic Forces, uniting several Kazakh opposition parties and political movements, has sent a letter to the Dutch Embassy in Almaty, Kazakhstan, urging Dutch officials to not allow Nazarbayev to visit Holland in late November. In the letter its authors say, "Nursultan Nazarbayev has launched a campaign to physically eliminate the democratic opposition".

In addition to the detention and recent deaths of prominent Kazakh journalists, there are reports of mysterious deaths of two employees of the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights: Dulat Tulegenov and Aleksei Pugaev. There are also allegations that both Dudanov and the leader of the Kazakhstan Community Party, Serikbolsyn Abdildin, were poisoned, or drugged by a drink given to them.

If Kazakhstan has any intention of some day joining NATO, or being included in the greater global community, Nursultan Nazarbayev is going to have to modify his Draconian strategies, and be more open to the rule of law, respecting media freedom and creating a stable business environment to encourage foreign investment to capitalize on its wealth of black gold.

Western governments and multinational oil companies have already said that the Kazakh government has overstepped its bounds, now what are they going to do? What they shouldn't allow is Nazarbayev to get away with his raft of excesses, or allow him to ruin the potential future prosperity of Kazakhstan.

///Asia Times, 5 Dec, Mark Berniker is a freelance journalist who specializes in Eurasian affairs.



"Russia and India: Together in the Struggle Against International Terrorism. The Strategic Partnership in Action"

Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Igor Ivanov
The visit of President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin to India is a major event in relations between our countries.

It is the second time that the head of the Russian state is visiting India, with which we are traditionally tied by close bonds of friendship and cooperation, which have in recent years attained the level of a genuine strategic partnership. One can state with satisfaction that the agreements recorded in the Declaration on the Strategic Partnership, signed in October 2000, are being successfully implemented. Along with the regular meetings of the leaders of the two countries, ties have expanded between the parliaments, between the highest judicial bodies, between the security councils and between various ministries and departments.

Russia and India are united by the commonality of approaches to key international problems of today. Our countries stand for the formation of a democratic multipolar system of international relations in which the security and sustainable development interests of all states would be reliably ensured. That mutual understanding is particularly important in the conditions when the world community is faced with new global challenges and threats, which can only be countered by combined efforts, through mechanisms of multilateral and bilateral cooperation.

In the first place this applies to the struggle against terrorism, which has now moved into the category of major international priorities. The recent terrorist acts in Moscow, Indonesia, Kenya and a number of other countries of the world have once again revealed the global character of this threat. They confirm that the world community has a tough and long struggle against terrorism ahead, in which it is necessary to use the broadest set of measures.

For Russia and India, international terrorism has never been an abstract theoretical notion. Long before the tragic events of September 11, 2001, in the United States, our countries had sought to attract attention to this problem and were pointing out the international character of terrorist organizations.

Today ties between the terrorists operating in Chechnya, Afghanistan, Kashmir, the Philippines and other parts of the world have become a generally accepted fact. It is well known that they have undergone training in the same camps and are using similar crime tactics and methods. Enough to recall the apartment houses explosions in Moscow and Volgodonsk, the blast at the Jammu and Kashmir legislative assembly in Srinagar, the attacks on the Indian parliament in December 2001 and the Hindu temple in the Indian state of Gujarat this September or the recent hostage-taking by Chechen terrorists in Moscow.

The basic principles of Russian-Indian cooperation are reflected in the Moscow Declaration on International Terrorism of November 6, 2001. Russia and India presume that the central role in combating the terrorist threat must belong to the United Nations. We are for the adoption on the basis of the principles and rules of international law, primarily the United Nations Charter, of drastic measures against terrorists and the states which support, harbor, finance, instigate, train or assist terrorists in any other way. At the same time we see the full danger and counterproductiveness of an oversimplified approach to the problem of terrorism and of attempts to identify it with individual ethnic groups or religious denominations.

Neither can we help but be concerned by the striving of individual countries to employ the slogans of combating terrorism for solving opportunistic foreign and internal policy tasks.

The problem of terrorism and possible joint actions in the fight against this evil are being actively discussed between various ministries and departments of our countries, including between the foreign and interior ministries, between the Security Councils within the framework of the Working Group on Countering Terrorism, and so on.

Russia and India actively helped the liquidation of the dangerous hotbed of instability in Afghanistan. A continual confidential dialogue on Afghan problems is being conducted between us.

An important role in it belongs to the Russian-Indian Working Group on Afghanistan, established in 2000. Our views on a post-conflict arrangement in the country fully concur. An undoubted priority now is economic reconstruction and the ensuring of security. Seriously worrying are the incoming reports about the growth of drug production on the territory of Afghanistan. It is well known that the proceeds from illicit drug trafficking constitute one of the main sources of financing for the internal conflict in the country, as well as for international terrorist organizations.

Cross-border terrorism is an acute problem for many countries. An essential precondition for the effective struggle against this threat is the close cooperation of neighboring states. In particular, for the security of Russia a grave threat is posed by the presence of Chechen terrorists and foreign mercenaries in the Pankisi Gorge on the territory of Georgia. In this connection we give special emphasis to the speediest possible implementation of the agreements of the Russian and Georgian presidents on reinforcing security in the Russian-Georgian border area, reached in the course of their recent meeting in Chisinau at the CIS summit.

For the same reasons Russia treats with understanding the concern of India over the penetration of groups of militants through the Line of Control into the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It shares the opinion about the need for the fulfillment by Pakistan of the obligations assumed to liquidate the terrorist infrastructure on the territory under its control.

Russia and India have always been advocating broad international cooperation in the struggle against the terrorist threat. They were among the first to actively support the creation of the international antiterrorist coalition. Favorable prerequisites are currently taking shape for getting down on the basis of this coalition to the formation under UN auspices of a global system of counteraction against new threats and challenges. Within the framework of this system practical measures can be worked out for the suppression by the international community of any manifestations of terrorism and for cutting off the channels for its financing and removing the socioeconomic causes engendering it. Important steps in this direction would, undoubtedly, be the adoption of a Comprehensive Convention Against International Terrorism and a Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, as well as the consistent implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1373, primarily through the Counter-Terrorism Committee, specially established for reliable control over compliance with it. All these measures would contribute to strengthening the legal basis for combating terrorism, which is an essential precondition for its effectiveness.

It is the profound conviction that the struggle against terrorism must be waged in the legal field that makes our countries seriously worry about the developments around Iraq. They presume that the Iraqi crisis needs to be resolved by politico-diplomatic methods, on the basis of relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

It is perfectly clear that unilateral military action may lead to the origination of a dangerous crisis which can create a breeding ground for a new spiral of terrorist activity both in the region and throughout the world.

Russia has been invariably pursuing a line toward the development of constructive bilateral cooperation with India in all fields.

It is deeply interested in the further coordination of the efforts of our countries in the struggle against international terrorism. We are convinced that Russian-Indian cooperation in this field serves as a weighty contribution to bolstering international security and stability and is conducive to the establishment of an equitable world order meeting the aspirations of all peoples. /// Russiskaya Gazeta, Moscow, 2 Dec



Full Text of 2 December Sino-Russian joint declaration

The Russian and Chinese presidents have signed a joint statement on the occasion of their meeting in Beijing. According to China's official news agency Xinhua, the statement committed the two countries to the principles of their "Good-Neighbourly Treaty" of 2001, deepening strategic, economic and political partnership, energy and trade cooperation as well as the struggle against terrorism within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization's anti-terrorist agency. The statement also stressed commitments to regional peace and stability including support for the UN, regional groupings such as APEC, a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and the transitional government in Afghanistan. The following is the text of the report entitled: "'Full Text' of Joint Declaration of the People's Republic of China and Russian Federation", carried by official Chinese news agency Xinhua (New China News Agency)

Beijing, 2 Dec—Chinese President Jiang Zemin and Russian Federation President Putin signed in Beijing today the "Joint Declaration of the People's Republic of China and the Russian Federation." Its full text follows:

Joint Declaration of the People's Republic of China and Russian Federation

1. Chinese and Russian heads of state have fully discussed the current situation and future of Sino-Russian relations. They state that deepening the PRC [People's Republic of China]-Russia strategic cooperative partnership is in the long-range interests of the two countries and the two peoples, that it is the only correct historical choice, and that it is the need for dealing with the challenges caused by the development of the world situation and international relations.

In the last decade, historic and positive changes have taken place in the two countries' relations. Ever since the advent of the 21st century, the political, economic and social foundation of Sino-Russian relations has become increasingly stronger, the two countries' political mutual trust has deepened, the two peoples' traditional friendship has strengthened, and their mutually beneficial cooperation has achieved substantive results. The close contacts between the two countries' leaders have been playing a pivotal role in the development of bilateral relations.

The two heads of state agree that that developing Sino-Russian good-neighbourly, friendly and cooperative relations and deepening their strategic cooperation has a broad prospect and enormous potential. The two sides are determined to continue to make untiring efforts to push the two countries' friendly and mutually cooperative relations to a new level.

The two heads of state reiterate: The two sides will continue to strengthen the mechanisms governing the two countries' high-level exchanges, to upgrade mutual trust in the political and military spheres, to constantly exchange views on important bilateral and international issues; to strengthen and consolidate the two countries' coordination and cooperation in foreign affairs, national defence, law enforcement, economic and scientific-technological departments; and to strengthen the two countries' friendly contacts and pragmatic cooperation at regional level.

2. On 16 July 2001, the two heads of state signed the "PRC-Russia Treaty of Good Neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation. The work accomplished in implementing the treaty over the past one year or so fully proves that the treaty has important realistic and historical significance and it has laid a solid foundation for the healthy and steady development of the two countries' good-neighbourly and friendly relations. The treaty is a programmatic document that ensures the continual development of the two countries' bilateral relations and has a powerful vitality. It has explored new prospects for deepening the two countries' strategic cooperation in all areas.

The two heads of state reiterate that no matter how the world situation will change, and no matter what changes may occur in their respective countries, the two sides decide to abide by the principles and policies set in the treaty; continue to push forward, expand, reinforce and deepen the two countries' strategic cooperative partnership with new substance; coordinate each other's stand and support each other on issues of common concern; do what can fully reflect the great strategic thinking that the two countries "will forever be good neighbours, good friends, and good partners who will never be enemies;" and work with all peace-loving countries and peoples in the world to meet the challenges in this new era.

The two sides stress: The friendly relations between the two countries represent a new type of state-to-state relations marked by nonalignment and non-confrontation - relations that are not targeted at any third countries. The two heads of states are convinced that the solid foundation laid by the treaty will upgrade the Sino-Russian relations to a new and higher level in this century.

The two heads of state point out: National independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity are the basic elements of the international law, the essential principles of international relations, and the necessary conditions for the existence of every country. It is the legitimate right of every country to firmly condemn and rebuff any attempt or act that sabotages the aforementioned principles. China and Russia firmly support each other's policy and actions on safeguarding national unification and territorial integrity.

The Russian side reiterates: The PRC government is the only legitimate government representing the whole China and Taiwan is an integral part of the Chinese territory. Russia will not establish any official relations or have official exchanges with Taiwan. Russia always recognizes that Tibet is an inseparable part of China. China supports Russia's efforts in striking Chechnya terrorists and separatists.

China and Russia will not allow the establishment of any organization or group in their respective territories that will impair [Chinese: sun hai] each other's sovereignty, security and territorial integrity. They will prohibit such activities.

The two countries' heads of state point out that the current conditions are most favourable for finding a mutually acceptable plan for resolving the alignment problems of the border lines in two areas, which the two countries have yet to reach an agreement. For this purpose, they will charge the two countries' ministries of foreign affairs to conclude the negotiations on boundaries as soon as possible.

Completely resolving the historical issue of Sino-Russian boundaries has far-reaching significance for the strategic prospects of the two countries' relations, and will play an important role in ensuring the stability in the Asia-Pacific region and the world at large.

3. The two heads of state hold that strengthening and pushing forward the two sides' economic and trade cooperation in all areas has extremely important significance for ensuring steady and long-range development of Sino-Russian relations as a whole.

The two heads of state maintain that the mechanism governing the two countries' meetings at regular intervals has important significance. They speak highly of the contributions that this mechanism has made in developing long-term Sino-Russian economic and trade cooperation. The two sides point out that, to enable the development of economic and trade relations in a stable and predictable environment, positive measures should be taken to expand the size of trade; improve the mix of commodities through increasing the percentage of high-tech mechanical and electronic goods and other commodities with high added values; create conditions favourable for the two countries' commodities, services and investments to gain access to each other's market; promote economic, technological and trade cooperation through establishing joint ventures, production cooperation, and technology transfer; improve trade service systems, including cooperation in banking settlement, credit and insurance; strengthen legal, administrative and managerial work to make trade systems accord with international standards; and promote ties between medium and small-sized enterprises in the two countries. The two sides will work hard to achieve breakthroughs in promoting the development of bilateral economic and trade relations as a whole with greater efficiency.

Considering the great significance of energy cooperation to the two sides, the two heads of state maintain that, to ensure long-term and steady supply of oil and natural gas, it is crucial to make sure that Sino-Russian cooperation projects concerning crude oil and natural gas pipelines will be carried out according to schedule, and to coordinate the implementation of promising energy projects.

The two sides agree that Russia's accession to the WTO will have special significance for Russia to assimilate itself with the world's economic system as an equal member. The two sides maintain that they should positively and constructively proceed with their bilateral talks on terms governing Russia's WTO accession, and that they should reach an agreement on the basis of considering the two sides' interests because this is conducive to strengthening Sino-Russian economic and trade relations. The Chinese side expresses support for the Russian Federation's WTO accession, maintaining that this will make this international organization even more broadly representative.

4. The two heads of state maintain that broadening the two sides' friendly exchanges and cooperation in the fields of education, culture, public health, sports and media is good for strengthening the social foundation of the two countries' good-neighbourliness, friendship and mutual trust. The two sides maintain that the work of the Committee for China-Russia Friendship, Peace and Development has important significance. They attach great importance to improving its form and ways of work.

To promote mutual understanding and cooperation between the two peoples, the two sides want to continue to take effective measures to promote mutual exchanges between Chinese and Russian citizens, and to standardize and improve the relevant regulations and rules.

The two heads of state stress that cooperation in the area of law enforcement has important significance.

The two sides will carry out cooperation in rebuffing illegal immigration.

The two heads of state point out that further measures should be taken to strengthen cooperation in the areas of ecology and environmental protection and to improve the relevant regulations and rules, maintaining that attention should be paid to cooperation in preserving the environments in border areas.

5. The crimes committed by international terrorism in New York, Moscow, Bali and other parts of the world show that terrorism, separatism and radicalism constitute a serious threat to the security of sovereign countries and global peace. Factors causing uncertainty in global security have increased. The two heads of state maintain that there should not be "double standards" for dealing with these problems, and that the strikes on terrorism must count on the common efforts made by all countries. To this end, China and Russia are determined to take necessary and concrete measures, on both bilateral and multilateral basis, to sternly crack down on terrorism of all forms. The two sides reiterate that both Chechnya and "East Turkestan" terrorists and separatists are part of the international terrorism, and so countries the world over should work together in condemning and rebuffing them. To effectively safeguard security and stability in China and Russia and promote regional and world peace and prosperity, the two sides will strengthen mutual support and coordination and cooperation in international arena in combating terrorism.

Last June, the member countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization [SCO] signed in St Petersburg the "SCO Agreement on Setting up a Regional Anti-terrorist Agency." The two heads of state speak highly of the agency's cooperation potential in fighting terrorism, maintaining that the agency should begin its actual operations as quickly as possible.

The two sides speak highly of the work of the Sino-Russian anti-terrorist group, stressing in particular that the constructive and trustworthy relations for dialogue created by the group completely match the level of Sino-Russian cooperative partnership.

6. Following the "9.11" [11 September 2001] incident, the international situation has undergone profound and complex changes. Untraditional challenges, such as international terrorism, have constituted a serious threat to world peace and security. Local clashes keep cropping up in various parts of the world. The root causes of tensions and instability still exist. The gap between the South and the North continues to widen. Mankind's peace and development are facing challenges that must not be neglected.

The two heads of state maintain that the harmonious coexistence and diversity of different countries and the democratization of international relations will help strengthen global stability and security. The two sides maintain that peace and development remain the theme of the time. As multipolarization and economic globalization are gaining momentum, peoples of all countries wish to establish a just and rational new international political and economic order that will safeguard the security of all countries' sustained development and peace.

China and Russia maintain that the United Nations is a major mechanism for safeguarding international security and cooperation, and so its core role should be strengthened. The two sides are in favour of improving the efficiency of the United Nations, especially its Security Council.

The two sides maintain that at this age of globalization and scientific-technological advances, countries are becoming more interdependent. As such, there should be an overall strategy for mankind's sustainable development. The military, political, economic, ecological and human aspects of international security are inseparable. This awareness should serve as the basis of the aforementioned strategy.

The two heads of state maintain that the two sides' cooperation in maintaining strategic stability has important significance for strengthening international security and global and regional stability. The two sides will carry out cooperation within the framework of their bilateral relations and the relevant international forums and formulate effective measures to be taken in the realms of arms control, disarmament, and prevention the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their carriers. The two sides will continue to work hard to cosponsor an international agreement on weapon-free outer space.

The two sides will continue to cooperate closely with respect to addressing the proliferation of missiles.

The two sides maintain that they should continue to explore and advance the proposal for multilateral talks so as to formulate a legally binding agreement on global missile non-proliferation mechanism. China and Russia are ready to continue their bilateral dialogue on export control in an effort to prevent proliferation.

The two sides attach great importance to carrying out international cooperation on protecting and promoting human rights.

The two sides maintain that there should not be "double standards" for human rights and that they are against using human rights to exercise pressure while handling international relations.

The two sides stress that settling regional clashes by political and diplomatic means through dialogue and talks should become the guiding principle for handling international relations.

The two sides continue to maintain that the Iraq issue should be comprehensively and thoroughly resolved through political and diplomatic means on the basis of strictly observing the UN Security Council resolutions. The two sides indicate that they want to cooperate in this regard within the framework of the United Nations.

The two sides have discussed the Middle East situation and expressed grave concern over the protracted Palestinian-Israeli confrontations. The two sides are convinced that the use of force can never resolve their differences and a political solution is in the long-term interests of all countries. The object of the political settlement is that the two countries - Israel and Palestine - should coexist peacefully with security within their recognized borders.

7. The SCO [Shanghai Cooperation Organization] has become an important factor in maintaining regional peace, security and stability, as well as one of the pillars in the structure of the future multipolar world. Under the current complicated international situation, it is in the common interests of SCO member countries to inject new vigour into the organization so that it can take a more active part in regional and international affairs for the promotion of peace and prosperity in Asia and the creation of a cooperative atmosphere for dialogue on an equal footing.

This being the case, the two heads of state maintain that strengthening mutual cooperation within the SCO framework is of primary importance.

China and Russia express willingness to work with other SCO members to speed up the process of turning the SCO into a mechanism, work as quickly as possible to set up the SCO Secretariat and a regional anti-terrorist agency; intensify the efforts to crack down on terrorism, separatism and radicalism and take measures to stop drug trafficking and other forms of transnational crimes; deepen all quarters' extensive cooperation in economic and human spheres; and actively carry out SCO's exchanges and cooperation with other international organizations and countries so as to safeguarding peace and development in this part of the world and the world at large.

8. The two heads of state maintain that to strengthen multilateral cooperation in the field of security in the Asia-Pacific region is one of the key factors in consolidating global strategic stability. The two countries will strive to establish an effective regional multilateral cooperation system to ensure stability and security in the Asia-Pacific region.

The two heads of state express worries over the prospect and possible outcome of some countries, which are cooperating in building a theatre missile defence system in East Asia on a bloc basis, and reiterate that this cooperation should not undermine regional and global security and stability. The two sides appeal to all countries concerned for strengthening dialogue on this issue. China and Russia will continue to maintain their consultations on this issue within the framework of their bilateral relations. The two sides have discussed the Central Asia issue, pointing out that it is crucial to maintain stability and security in this part of the world.

The two sides point out that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations [ASEAN] plays a constructive role in establishing a new type of state-to-state relations in the Asia-Pacific region, maintaining that the ASEAN Regional Forum is an effective mechanism for conducting political dialogue on regional security issues. The two sides reiterate that they will carry out close cooperation within the framework of the ASEAN Regional Forum.

Russia reiterates its positive attitude towards the "ASEAN-plus-three" as a mechanism for promoting dialogue and cooperation. China will provide Russia with the necessary assistance by establishing contacts between Russia and the mechanism in areas of common concern.

The two sides maintain that developing economic, trade, investment and technological cooperation within the framework of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation [APEC] is a major contribution to the stability and development in the Asia-Pacific region. The two sides are willing to conduct regular consultations and coordinate their views and positions in connection with APEC affairs.

The two sides speak highly of the Asia-Europe Meeting's contributions to promoting the in-depth development of the new, equal partnership between Asia and Europe. The Chinese side supports Russia's entry into the Meeting.

The two heads of state welcome the establishment of a nuclear-free zone in Asia, maintaining that this zone fully takes into consideration the interests and concerns of all countries.

The two heads of state support the process of relaxation that has started to deepen in recent years on the Korean Peninsula, especially the dialogue and cooperation between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea [DPRK] and the Republic of Korea [ROK]. They are in favour of the normalization of DPRK-ROK relations and the implementation of the agreements reached in the Pyongyang summit.

The two sides maintain that it is crucial to peace and security in northeast Asia to maintain a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and the system for nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The two sides stress that the United States and the DPRK should continue to abide by all their agreements, including the 1994 framework agreement, and, on this basis, normalize their relations in accordance with the principle of conducting constructive and equal dialogue for addressing their mutual concerns. The two sides will continue to develop good-neighbourly, friendly and cooperative relations with both DPRK and ROK so as to facilitate peace and prosperity in that part of the world.

The two sides fully support the work done by the Afghan transitional government to bring the country's situation back to normal in line with the Bonn agreement, the Loya Jerga's [Grand Assembly] decisions, and resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council. The two sides express worries over the instability in Afghanistan, the activities of the remnant Taleban forces, the intensifying contradictions among different ethnic groups, and the increasing narcotics output. The two sides stress that the United Nations must maintain its leading role in settling the Afghan issue.
The two heads of state declare that they are willing to continue to conduct close and mutually trustworthy political dialogue, expand and deepen their economic cooperation for mutual benefit, cooperate more closely in handling international affairs, and consolidate the friendship between the two peoples. [Signed by] PRC President Jiang Zemin and Russian Federation President V. Putin - [Dated on] 2 December 2002 in Beijing /// Xinhua



Russia plans to increase troops in Central Asia

Moscow, 5 Dec—Russia is planning to increase its military presence in Central Asia to offset the deployment of US troops in the region.

This was indicated by Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov on Thursday, in a statement, few hours before the arrival of the Russian President Vladimir Putin, in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, after the conclusion of his three-day state visit to India.

‘‘It’s necessary to enhance our military presence in places where it is possible and where it is justified, where people are waiting for us. It’s in Russia’s interest,’’ Ivanov declared while visiting the Kyrgyz military airport Kvant, which hosted demonstration flights of Russian jet fighters, recently deployed by Moscow.

Last week, Russia sent two SU-25 ground attack jets and two Il-76 transport aircraft to the Kvant military airfield, outside Bishkek, as a part of an air force base currently underway, in the framework of the Collective Security Treaty, uniting six former Soviet republics.

The Kvant air base is expected to have five SU-27 fighter jets, five SU-25 attack aircraft, two Il-76 and two AN-26 military transport planes, two MI-helicopter gunships and five L-39 trainers.

In November, the Defence Ministers of the Collective Security Treaty decided at their summit to enhance the 3,000-strong rapid deployment force for Central Asia, which was set up last year to meet the threats posed by international terrorism.

At the Bishkek summit, Putin and Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev will consider the situation in Central Asia and Afghanistan and the course of anti-terrorist operation in the region, Putin’s foreign affairs aide Sergei Prikhodko said. /// Indian Express