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FEATURE

The Partnership for Peace offers an extensive menu of security-related activities covering areas, such as civil- emergency planning, crisis management, language train- ing, scientific cooperation and the interoperability of armed forces. From this menu, each Partner can pick and choose on the basis of individual requirements and priori- ties. Moreover, under the terms of the Partnership, NATO Allies will consult with any Partner, at its request, if that Partner perceives a direct threat to its territorial integrity, political independence or security.

series of regional, security-cooperation seminars address- ing Central Asian security issues have also been organised under EAPC auspices. These have been held in the region itself to help NATO Allies and other Partners get a better understanding of conditions on the ground. The first took place in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, in October 1999. The suc- cess of this initiative led to a second seminar in Bishkek, the Kyrghyz Republic, in November 2000, and a third in Almaty, Kazakhstan, in September 2001 — only a few days after the terrorist attacks against the United States.

Two key principles underpin the Partnership for Peace. First, it is not directed against the interests of a third party. Neutral countries, such as Austria, Ireland, Moldova and Switzerland, are also able to benefit from the wide range of activities offered. Second, it does not seek to substitute or duplicate other cooperative initiatives but rather to comple- ment them, as NATO has always respected the specific interests and regional considerations of its Partners. In Southeastern Europe, for example, countries participate in

Civil-emergency planning is another key area of cooper- ation. Central Asian countries are prone to natural disas- ters, such as earthquakes and floods, and are therefore keen to explore ways of protecting cities and populations locat- ed in high-risk zones. Planning for such civil emergencies and preparing the way for civil-military cooperation in disaster-response operations is being facilitated by partici- pation in workshops and activities organised within the framework of the Partnership for Peace. To this end, tai-

Aral Sea

lored courses have taken place in the Kyrghyz Republic in 1996, in Uzbekistan in 1999 and in Kazakhstan in 2001.

KAZAKHSTAN NATO and its Central Asian Partners are also benefiting from the opportunity to work together in the field of scientific and technological research. Some 120 NATO science and technology grants have been awarded to the five Central Asian countries in the eight years since NATO’s Science Programme was opened to Partner-country participation. In October this year, the Science Programme launched a major project, the “Virtual Silk Highway”, to provide internet access via a satellite net- work to the scientific and academic com- munities of eight countries in Central Asia and the Southern Caucasus. Other NATO-sponsored sci- ence projects in Central Asia include a pilot study on envi- ronmental decision-making for sustainable development, launched in February 2001, involving Kazakhstan, the Kyrghyz Republic, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan; projects addressing radioactivity problems at the former nuclear test site at Semipalatinsk in the Sarzhal region of Kazakhstan; and initiatives to tackle pollution in the Aral Sea. UZBEKISTAN KYRGHYZ REPUBLIC Caspian Sea TURKMENISTAN CHINA TAJIKISTAN PAKISTAN IRAN AFGHANISTAN a number of parallel, multinational initiatives and have spe- cial bilateral relations among themselves, in addition to cooperating with NATO. In the same way, the Alliance is eager to support the various cooperative activities in which some Central Asian Partners participate, such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation or the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia, and it respects the relations that have been built up with Russia for historical, geopolitical and socio-economic rea- sons. Once the scene of “the Great Game”, Central Asia remains a region of crucial, strategic importance at the beginning of the 21st century. However, the zero-sum games of the past have now been consigned to history. Recent events have again demonstrated the wisdom of pro- moting cooperation, stability and security throughout the Euro-Atlantic area. While the Alliance does not claim to have solutions to all the problems there, or elsewhere, it is increasingly clear that long-term investment in building relationships, improving understanding and enhancing cooperation strengthens security for all. On the basis of such understanding, NATO and its Central Asian Partners have been able to embark on coop- erative activities in various areas. Structured dialogue takes place between Alliance members and 27 Partner countries on virtually all issues of common concern within the framework of the EAPC. Through this multilateral forum, Central Asian Partners have been able to keep Allies and other Partners informed of developments in their region, since the emergence of Taliban-sponsored terrorism. A

Winter 2001/2002

NATO review 25

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