XI Eurasian Media Forum Draws Praise as Leading East-West Platform
ASTANA, Kazakhstan, May 1, 2013, PRNewswire – The 11th annual Eurasian Media Forum (EAMF), which took place on April 25-26 in Kazakhstan’s capital city of Astana, has drawn praise from all sides as a leading platform for regional and East-West dialogue.
Welcoming some 600 delegates from 46 countries, the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, stressed the importance of the media as a unifying influence in society.
The Forum itself had already made a unique contribution to international understanding and to Eurasian integration, through its open exchange of views involving the media. It was now one of the leading regional dialogue platforms, he said.
As in previous years, the delegates included prominent politicians, economists, businessmen and journalists. Close to 350 international mass media covered the event.
President Nazarbayev’s positive view of the Forum was echoed by many of the participants from East and West. Russia’s Channel One TV host, Maxim Shevchenko, said it was one of the most significant intellectual and political events he knew. US Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Roy Gutman, attending his first Forum, said its value lay both in its international exchanges and in its coverage of regional issues, such as progress towards a Eurasian Economic Union.
The XI Eurasian Media Forum included prominent speakers such as Iranian presidential candidate Hooshang Amirahmadi, Minister-Counsellor to President of Afghanistan Mokhammad Yahya Maroofi, editor-in-chief of Turkish Today Zaman newspaper Bulent Kenes, Kazakh Minister for Environmental Protection Nurlan Kapparov, former Deputy Prime Minister of Greece Theodoros Pangalos, UK member of parliament George Galloway and many others.
Riz Khan, celebrated Al-Jazeera International TV host and producer, once again served as the moderator for the XI Eurasian Media Forum.
The agenda comprised six sessions over two days. Experts devoted the first two sessions to instability issues in Afghanistan and the Middle East.. Military operations were due to cease in Afghanistan, but experts were apprehensive of new outbreaks in the wake of the planned pullout of NATO and US troops from the region. Al-Jazeera International (UK) senior TV host Stephen Cole moderated the session, which involved Minister-Counsellor to President of Afghanistan Mokhammad Yahya Maroofi, Iran’s presidential candidate Hooshang Amirahmadi, Russian TV host Maxim Shevchenko and other experts.
Discussions about Kazakhstan’s hosting of EXPO-2017 and the formation of a Eurasian Economic Union (EEC) were among the more upbeat notes of the Forum. Kazakh Deputy Prime Minister Kairat Kelimbetov spoke of advantages that the EEC member-nations would hope to enjoy, whereas the former Deputy Prime Minister of Greece Theodoros Pangalos gave a series of recommendations based on Greece’s membership in the European Union.
The second day of the Forum was marked by incisive speeches by world A-list journalists. TV host of Russia Today Alexander Gurnov (Russia), US writer and journalist Greg Palast, British journalist Julian Nundy and others speculated about information security and media innovations.
The chairperson of the EAMF’s organizing committee, Dr. Dariga Nazarbayeva, delivered the concluding speech at the closing ceremony of the XI Eurasian Media Forum. Expressing her gratitude to the participants and guests of the Forum, Dr. Nazarbayeva announced the date of the next Eurasian Media Forum, the 12th, which is due to take place in Astana on the 24th and 25th of April, 2014.
Overall, organisers and participants of the XI Eurasian Media Forum said the conference was to be praised for its operational efficiency, its wide-ranging and sometimes heated discussions and its exchange of differing viewpoints on the topical problems under consideration.
The Forum was notable for the following quotes made by guests and speakers:
Senior leading TV host of Al-Jazeera International (UK) Stephen Cole on measures undertaken by the global community to address the issue of withdrawal of NATO and US troops from Afghanistan: Over the past few weeks the UN Security Council has been studying security problems in Afghanistan. This might have been one of its last conferences. Just recently a UN ambassador to Afghanistan told me that at this transitional time someone needs to play a more decisive role. After many years of a bloody conflict in Afghanistan, America must ensure a smooth exit from this conflict. It could be said that the mission will be completed next year. As Mr. Obama said, the military people would return home and this statement was met with applause in a manner characteristic of American presidents, taking account of the fact that Afghanistan is one of the key parts of the region. In other words, an internal dialogue on this problem is now taking place among different sides of the Afghan people.
Pulitzer Prize winning journalist (USA) Roy Gutman about the attainment of US goals set earlier in relation to Afghanistan: From the point of view of a result of the American presence and the American role in Afghan events, I should say that judging from the present-day state of Afghanistan, given that it remains a source of threat, then in this case America’s activities have failed. Millions of Afghans have died and a certain chain reaction is being observed. Something similar was observed in the Soviet Union after its disintegration. We should understand that it all didn’t start in Afghanistan. In the 1990s the Americans and the Pakistanis celebrated their great victories and instead of stabilizing Afghanistan they simply went off and left the country in chaos following the withdrawal of Soviet troops. The conditions of that chaos gave rise to Bin Laden and various extremist movements whose ambitions and aims shook the entire Islamic world. As a result of this we all saw September 11 attacks. Great successes were definitely not achieved in Afghanistan.
Presidential candidates of the Republic of Iran Hooshang Amirahmadi about possible negative consequences of the withdrawal of US and NATO troops from Afghanistan: I am going to speak as a presidential candidate but not on behalf of the Islamic Republic. I think that Iran maintains a positive standpoint concerning the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, although the fact that the occupation of Afghanistan grew very drawn out and complicated, badly affected the unfolding of events in the region as a whole. But finally the time is ripe for a withdrawal and I believe that Afghanistan is now in a situation when it should be able to protect itself and the region on its own and maintain a stable situation in the country. In recent years the Taliban movement became strong and the fact that the occupation went on for too long is a reason behind it. As a result, religious forces became a national power claiming that they protect their native land. When NATO pulls its troops out this characteristic will disappear and the Afghans will be forced to defend their homeland on their own.
Minister-Counsellor to the President of Afghanistan for political affairs Mokhammed Yahya Maroofi about positive aspects of US-Afghan cooperation: Everything that has been going on in Afghanistan for the past year amounted to a handover of interests. I believe that the post-September 11 USA and Afghanistan, which finds itself in a situation of a protracted 30-year crisis as well as the emergence of Taliban and Al-Qaeda, became united. They started working in the same direction with an aim to fight terrorism. The troop pullout will continue for a year but it suggests that there was a necessity and the need to leave them for now. Democracy is not born overnight but in the Afghan peripheries it begins to awaken amid the intervention of neighbouring countries. Meanwhile, this was the first goal and upon reaching it we can speak of a stable Afghanistan in the future.
Political scientist Yuri Solozobov (Russia) about Moscow’s official stance on the withdrawal of US and NATO troops from Afghanistan: It is more than likely that the global catastrophe will not take place. I agree on this with President Nursultan Nazarbayev and the domino effect will not be observed. I think that the problem of US troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan was a tangible psychological drawback for all of us. Russian analysts believe that the threat remains real in three dimensions. First, there is the threat of weapons being smuggled out to neighbouring countries, for instance Uzbekistan, which is a country with an uncertain future but with great regional ambitions. Central Asian countries are legally firm but no one has so far fought for them. This needs to be borne in mind. Second, Russia is ready to create with its allies a collective security system, which the President of Kazakhstan spoke about, and provide a collective crane that would help raise such countries as Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan and bring them from the position of weak states up to a normal level. In the future such an experience might be useful for Afghanistan. In terms of American progress in Afghanistan, it is definitely out there… Three European supply channels have been settled and we are on the third route. The saddest thing is that a third of the supply stays in Russia; our schoolchildren become victims of Afghan heroin. This is a kind of economic vacuum cleaner and fighting this system is a big challenge as it is economically beneficial. Third, Central Asian states should be forward-thinking in considering and designing a set of collective measures with regard to refugees.
Channel One TV host Maxim Shevchenko speaking during a master class for journalists which he conducted ahead of the Forum’s opening: “I love Kazakhstan, I love the Forum and I already feel like home here. When I go here I already know that I will be able to talk, listen and argue. Without a doubt, the Media Forum has become one of the most significant intellectual and political events that I know. It is one of the most non-formal events.”