European Union - Japan Conference on Tajikistan-Afghanistan Border Management and Cross-Border Collaboration (04/03/2014)

The European Union (EU) and Japan constitute two of the major donors in Afghanistan and Central Asia, and have placed both high on their geopolitical agenda. During the two last EU-Japan summits, which took place respectively in Tokyo on the 28th April 2010 and in Brussels on the 28th May 2011, both donors reconfirmed their continuing commitment to work together in partnership with the Government of Afghanistan, the United Nations and other international organisations to promote a secure, stable and prosperous future for the people of Afghanistan. Both are staunch supporters of the Istanbul Process and the Heart of Asia Declaration.

For a decade now, the EU has been supporting border management reforms and the fight against drugs in Central Asia and Afghanistan through a number of complementary flagship programmes, notably the Border Management in Central Asia (BOMCA) and the Border Management for Northern Afghanistan (BOMNAF), and also the Central Asia Drug Action Programme and Heroin Routes Programme. These security-focused programmes represent only part of the EU's overall financial aid package aimed at contributing to the stability and sustainable economic development of the wider region.

The overall objectives of the BOMCA Programme are to help increase security in the Central Asian region, to contribute toward the facilitation of legitimate trade and transit and to reduce the illicit movement of goods and people. The objective of the BOMNAF Project is to reinforce border management capacity and trans-border cooperation in the Northern Provinces of Afghanistan. The project intends to improve cross border cooperation, enhance capacity to reduce crime, and stimulate legal trade, travel and commerce along Afghanistan's borders with Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The BOMCA and BOMNAF programmes are funded by the EU and implemented by UNDP.

The current conference is another step forward in the joint efforts of EU and Japan to encourage regional dialogue and enhance Confidence Building Measures between Central Asian countries and Afghanistan. The EU-Japan Conference in February 28th -29th 2012 adopted three key conclusions:

  • Risk and border management require securing the border from both sides, with an equal level of commitment by government, and should be based on proactive information exchange;
  • Enhanced cross-border political and economic cooperation between Afghanistan, Tajikistan and other Central Asian countries is at the core of border security and stability;
  • Particular emphasis should be put on legitimate trade and transit as one of the pillars alleviating poverty and supporting sustainable economic growth in the region.

Following the positive results of the 2012 Conference, the openness of Central Asian countries to engage with Afghanistan, notably in the context of the upcoming 2014 ISAF withdrawal from Afghanistan, progressively evolved by invitation of the latter to two of the Central Asia regional fora under the auspices of BOMCA - Issyk-kul Initiative (26th – 27th August 2013) and Central Asia Border Security Initiative (CABSI; Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, 2nd – 3rd October 2013). Whereas, the former initiative meeting was seen as preparatory for the CABSI event, the latter could be regarded as a significant milestone in the process of re-integrating Afghanistan in the region. 

During the 11th CABSI Conference, the interventions of Central Asian representatives underlined the need for closer cooperation not only on border security issues, but also jointly to address the root causes of instability - poverty, lagging socio-economic development, decreased cross-border interactions, religious extremism and terrorism, etc. The host, Turkmen Deputy Foreign Minister, Mr. Hajiev, welcomed CABSI as "a serious platform for increasing efficiency in regional cooperation". The EU Special Representative for Central Asia, Mr. Flor highlighted the necessity to have secure but open borders, particularly for the legitimate movements of persons and goods. The Special Representative of the Secretary General, Mr. Jenca underlined the necessity of building "borders of friendship" in the wider region. Finally, Ms. Rahmani, Director General of Regional Cooperation from the Afghan MoFA, stressed that in times of a triple transition - a security transition with the 2014 ISAF withdrawal, a political one with April 2014 elections, and an economic one with the scale down of the international presence, the way forward for Afghanistan will not be isolation, but will involve a multi-vectored approach and enhanced regional cooperation.

The EU-Japan Conference in 2014 is a logical continuation of these previous efforts of the international community and is designed to extend and deepen the dialogue and to bring regional cooperation to a new unprecedented level. The overall objective of the Conference is to discuss border security through the lenses of reinforced cross-border co-operation, notably with regard to increased mobility/regular migration and trade facilitation between Central Asia and Afghanistan.

Presentations

Day 1

Day 2

Recommendation from the Japan-EU Conference on Tajikistan-Afghanistan Border Management and Cross-border Collaboration pdf - 117 KB [117 KB] русский язык (ru)

Photo Gallery

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