In his opening statement to the second Business Forum of the Central Asian Economic Community, Askar Akaev told participants that the countries of Central Asia must learn from the experience of the European Union and need to start taking concrete steps toward economic integration, including promoting intra-regional development, adopting international standards, and resolving problems by consensus. Akaev was quoted as saying the process of economic unification will promote regional security and that, without economic interaction and the support of the international community, it will be impossible to fight effectively against terrorism, extremism, and drug trafficking. Deputy Prime ministers from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan; representatives of the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD); and officials from the United States and Great Britain are attending the forum, which is being held in Osh. The United States is represented by Undersecretary of the Treasury John Taylor, who told Interfax that U.S. involvement in the reconstruction of Iraq will not affect programs promoting economic development and trade in Central Asia. Taylor added that the members of the Central Asian Economic Community -- Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan -- need to work on regional development, particularly the removal of trade barriers, the standardization of legislation, and opening borders.
Eurasianet, May 07, 2003