Central Asia plays an important role as a bridge between Asia and Europe, says OSCE Chairperson-in-Office at the end of a visit to the region

Bern, Press releases, 22.11.2014

"Central Asia plays an important role as a bridge between Asia and Europe", said Didier Burkhalter, the Chairperson-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, at the end of a four-day visit from Wednesday to Saturday that took him to Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

Didier Burkhalter and with the Kyrgyz President, Almazbek Atambayev in a presse conference.
Didier Burkhalter in a presse conference with the Kyrgyz President, Almazbek Atambayev. (22 November 2014) FDFA

Mr Burkhalter's meetings with the countries’ leaders focused on the role and activities of the OSCE in Central Asia and their important contribution to security in the region. Other major topics were the perception of the Ukrainian crisis in the region and the OSCE's efforts to seek solutions to prevent an escalation of the conflict. The discussions also highlighted the quality and usefulness of the work of the organisation, which is operating in difficult conditions.

Furthermore, Mr Burkhalter spoke with his interlocutors about cooperation between the authorities of the countries concerned and the OSCE on a number of issues including border control, good governance, long-term management of energy and water resources and shared efforts to combat the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters.

The Chairperson-in-Office of the OSCE said he was convinced that there was a real potential to strengthen the implementation of the organisation's principles in the politico-military, economic and environmental and human dimensions. "We are willing to broaden our engagement and offer our expertise", Mr Burkhalter said.

The visit also gave Mr Burkhalter the opportunity for fruitful discussions with civil society in several countries.

Finally, the trip also helped strengthen bilateral ties between the countries visited and Switzerland, which works closely with them within the Bretton Woods institutions (World Bank / International Monetary Fund). The long-standing Swiss engagement in the field of development cooperation in the region was also mentioned.

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