On April 1, 2016 OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier visited the OSCE Academy in Bishkek. The OSCE Chairperson-in-Office was on an official visit to Kyrgyzstan as part of his Central Asia tour from 30 March to 1 April which also included visits to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. This was his second visit to the OSCE Academy, the first time was in 2006 also in his capacity as foreign minister. “It is good to be back…” – started his address Foreign Minister Steinmeier.
The OSCE Chairperson-in-Office informed students that an agreement on extending the current operating modalities and academic independence of the OSCE Academy in Bishkek was signed between the OSCE and the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic. By signing the Memorandum of Understanding the Kyrgyz Republic and the OSCE recognize the Academy as a unique centre of education, professional training, research and the development of dialogue at the regional and inter-state levels in Central Asia. The agreement will allow the Academy, which has been operational since 2002, to continue educating young professionals in the field of international relations, security, economic development and governance, as well as in empirical research on regional issues, with the aim of strengthening security in the region.
Also in his opening speech, the Foreign Minister expressed commitment to the OSCE’s main principles. The Foreign Minister mentioned also that Germany increased its financial support to the OSCE Academy in Bishkek. The speech was followed by the “question and answer” session. Issues regarding the conflict in Syria, refugees in Europe, European including German migration policy, relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as the situation in the Central Asian region were discussed.
“We were part of international engagement integrated in ISAF and you know we were concentrated not only in the North of Afghanistan but especially in training and equipping the Afghan security forces on the one hand and the Afghan Army on the other all over the country. Last year, it was our common analysis that it was time to leave Afghanistan and to have all the responsibility for Afghanistan’s security and for the country’s security forces. The events of the second half of the year convinced us, Americans and others to stay a bit longer not to counter forces but mainly to continue the process of training and education of the Afghan security forces. That is what we were doing when we prolonged our mandate for this engagement in the German Parliament in the last year. Therefore we are staying engaged. We are not only staying engaged by military means but also for the civilian reconstruction of Afghanistan. We were focused on the education system that we were supporting to build after the creation of basic medical treatment in Afghanistan. We are not only interested but also contributing to the hopefully successful dialogue between Afghanistan and Pakistan” – Foreign Minister Steinmeier answered to the question regarding Afghanistan.
“The OSCE Academy in Bishkek can be considered as a contribution of the OSCE to the region in terms of education. Besides, the OSCE should show interest and support the idea that Central Asia is a bridge between China, the East Asian countries and Europe. When it comes to Central Asia, there is a lack of cooperation in the region. I think neighbors should integrate, especially on water and border issues” – concluded the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office.