Interview: ACD 2012 eyes ‘workable roadmap’ for cooperation – Kuwait has become strong voice for Asia: Analyst (Kuwait Times)
By Sajeev K Peter, Staff Writer, 14 October 2012, Kuwait Times
KUWAIT: The Asia Cooperation Dialogue 2012 being hosted by Kuwait is expected to create a workable roadmap for cooperation in Asia, especially in the fields of economy, culture and education, said an Indian delegate and a geopolitical analyst here yesterday. “Kuwait has reasserted its crucial role in the region once again by becoming a strong voice for Asia.
His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al- Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah took a very crucial decision that ACD 2012 should be a summit of heads of government, paving the way for the current meeting to become the first summit of the Asia Cooperation Dialogue,” said Prof M D Nalapat, Honorary Director, Geopolitical & International Relations, Manipal University, New Delhi, in a brief interview with the Kuwait Times at the Media Centre, Courtyard Marriott. Prof Nalapat, who arrived here yesterday as a summit delegate, said the Kuwait government insisted that this meeting should be a summit involving heads of government rather than, as before, a meeting only of ambassadors and foreign ministers.
“The difficulty of the earlier meetings from 2002 onwards was that nothing tangible was accomplished. Therefore it was not a serious dialogue. Critical decisions are taken at the summits of G20 or G8, APEC or ASEAN because heads of government with authority attend such summits,” he pointed out. According to him, foreign ministers and ambassadors can only report back to their countries on the proposals being put forward at the meetings. “Even though the concept of the ACD began in 2001 and took off in 2002, it is in 2012, it has become a fullfledged summit due to the initiative by HH the Amir,” he said. Before the brutal invasion and occupation of Kuwait more than 20 years ago, the country had emerged as an important voice in Asia.
Its policy was quite independent and was friendly towards countries in the region which was not in the American sphere of influence at that point in time, Prof Nalapat, who is also the UNESCO Peace Chair, said. “In fact, Kuwait played a key role in developing an Asian Consciousness. But after the invasion, there was a two-decade-long gap as the country was occupied with many regional issues and post-invasion trauma, etc. He said the expectations are high about the outcome of the ACD 2012. “The delegates hope earnestly that the summit will create a workable roadmap for cooperation in Asia,” he added. ACD itself was set up after the Asian financial crisis in 1997-98, a crisis that was caused by Western financial institutions and banks creating havoc in Asia. Following the crisis, many Asian countries decided that they need an Asian solution to the Asian problem.
Hence the ACD, he said. Asia is still reeling from the impact of the financial crisis of 2008, again caused by Western financial institutions and banks. The GCC investors have lost around $1.3 trillion due to the crisis. “It is not because of the fault of GCC states. This underlines the urgency to find a mechanism offering protection to Asian investors from such crises stemming out of wrong policy decisions and erratic fiscal management in Western countries,” he added. Big countries in the West wanted to keep Asia divided such as East Asia or West Asia and organizations like APEC, ASEAN, SAARC, G20 etc are examples. “ACD is the only pan-Asian body of significance today as it brings together all the countries from all corners of Asia. The GCC was included in the ACD as it is an important source of global capital and a crucial source of global growth,” he elaborated.
“High-level delegations are coming from all the member countries represented by ministerial level. It is imperative now to have Asian institutions that can link together in the fields of economy, culture and education. ACD 2012 will seek to evolve a workable mechanism for cooperation in these areas,” he added. “It is heartening to note that Kuwait, after more than 20 years, is once again stepping forward to become an important diplomatic player in the region like Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Iran. Kuwait is the Singapore of the Middle East; small, prosperous and forward-looking. Singapore in the East and Kuwait in the West are two examples of modernity in two corners of Asia,” Prof Nalapat concluded.