Heart of Asia - Istanbul Process, Declarations & Member Countries

The Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process is an intergovernmental organisation established to provide a platform to discuss regional issues such as encouraging economic cooperation, encouraging security and political stability for Afghanistan and its immediate neighbours. The region-specific platform was launched in November 2011 to expand the scope of assistance in combating existential threats like terrorism, narcotics, poverty and extremism.

Aspirants should know that the topic, ‘Heart of Asia’ is important for IAS Exam and for UPSC Mains, questions can be asked from this section under Mains GS-II (Polity, Governance and International Relations.)

List of Member Countries of Heart of Asia

The table below gives the list of member countries associated with this inter-governmental organisation:

Member Countries of Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process
Afghanistan Pakistan
Azerbaijan Russia
China Saudi Arabia
India Tajikistan
Iran Turkey
Kazakhstan Turkmenistan
Kyrgyzstan United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Uzbekistan

In addition to these member countries, there are other countries who play a supporting role to the organisation order to assist with their day to day functions. They are as follows:

Supporting Countries of Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process
Australia Iraq
Canada Italy
Denmark Japan
Egypt Norway
European Union Poland
France Spain
Finland Sweden
Germany United Kingdom
United States

IAS aspirants should remember the list of member countries and supporting countries for upcoming UPSC 2020. Prelims questions can be asked from this section.

Three Elements of Heart of Asia

  1. Political Consultation to resolving disputes involving Afghanistan and its extended neighbours.
  2. Achieving a sustained developmental approach to the implementation of Confidence Building Measures as stated in the Istanbul Process document
  3. Seeking to contribute and bring greater unity and coherence to work on various regional issues through regional processes and organisation as they relate to Afghanistan

Key Highlights of Ministerial Declarations

Every year, the Heart of Asia holds Ministerial Conferences to make joint declarations to combat existential threats. Below are the highlights of the declarations taken so far:

1. Ministerial Declaration, November 2nd, 2011: In the inaugural conference in Istanbul, Turkey, the declaration on “Regional Security And Cooperation for a Secure and Stable Afghanistan was adopted by all the member nations.

2. Ministerial Declaration, June 14th, 2012: In the first follow-up conferences to the Heart of Asia in Kabul, Afghanistan, a declaration on political consultation involving Afghanistan and a sustained approach to implementation of CBMs (Confidence Building Measures) were adopted.

3. Ministerial Declaration, April 26th, 2013: The President of Kazakhstan, H.E. Mr Nursultan Nazarbayev inaugurated the third conference in Almaty, The Republic of Kazakhstan. The declaration on joint cooperation between member nations, combating terrorism and conference was adopted.

4. Ministerial Declaration, October 31st, 2014: In the fourth conference in Beijing, the People’s Republic of China, a declaration aimed at promoting peace and co-operation between Afghanistan and its neighbours was adopted. The conference was co-chaired by the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Afghan Foreign Minister Zarar Ahmad.

5. Ministerial Declaration, December 9th, 2015: The conference was held in Islamabad, Pakistan. A joint declaration on combating security threats, both internal and external, promoting economic connectivity and strengthening Confidence Building Measures were adopted.

6. Ministerial Declaration, December 4th, 2016: In the conference held at Amritsar, India, members reiterated their belief in principles of sovereignty, independence as enshrined in the UN charter. They also consented on eliminating non-tariff barriers to trade.

7. Ministerial Declaration, December 1st, 2017: The conference held at Baku, Republic of Azerbaijan, the declaration on “Security and Economic Connectivity towards a Strengthened Heart of Asia Region” was adopted. Mr Elmar Mammadyarov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan and Mr Salahuddin Rabbani, Foreign Affairs Minister of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan were the co-chairs of the conference.

8. Ministerial Declaration, December 10th 2019: The conference was held in Istanbul, Turkey. The declaration of firm commitments was adopted. The revised action plans of the seven confidence-building measures (CBMs) were also adopted and a new CBM, Women Empowerment, was added to the existing ones.  Afghanistan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and Turkey President H.E. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan inaugurated the conference.

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