Central Asian countries embraced the New Silk Road initiative
Bishkek, July 26 / Kabar /. “Five Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan have embraced the New Silk Road initiative that seeks to forge closer economic links among them and with Afghanistan”, the top U.S. diplomat to Central and South Asia Robert Blake said. He and U.S. lawmakers say improved democracy and human rights will also help to bring greater stability and prosperity to the region, says in an statement placed on the US Embassy web-site.
Speaking July 24 before the Europe and Eurasia Subcommittee of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake said all five countries “understand that they stand to benefit a great deal from this” New Silk Road initiative, but he said “there's still a lot of work to be done” to put it into effect.
The initiative would restore Afghanistan to its historic position as a regional crossroads in a new network of economic and trade connections that would bring greater economic stability to the country and its neighbors. U.S. officials have said that to implement the New Silk Road, countries in the region need to upgrade facilities at border crossings, remove bureaucratic barriers and other impediments to the free flow of goods and people, and eliminate outdated trade policies.
The Obama administration is working toward a future in which “the United States and the countries of Central Asia are partners for peace, security, economic development, democracy and prosperity. We envision a region where goods and services flow easily and efficiently between the Central Asian countries, Afghanistan and South Asia,” Blake said.
He also praised the Asian Development Bank’s efforts to promote regional integration through its Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Program, which is working on transport, trade facilitation and energy cooperation.
Democracy is an essential ingredient for Central Asia’s stability and prosperity, and along with its support for civil society in the region, the Obama administration is having a “very frank and open dialogue with the governments about the changes that we think need to be made,” Blake said. Specifically, he called for allowing more freedoms for civil society, the press and worship.
“These are things they shouldn't do because of the United States, but these are things that are in their own interests,” he said, since they would help to attract more business and foreign investment.