The inaugural summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, and the five Central Asian countries will kick off in Jeddah on Wednesday.
Officials from the six GCC states and the Central Asian countries of Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan will attend the summit to discuss ways to strengthen cooperation and coordination.
Uzbek Deputy Foreign Minister Bakhromjon Aloev described the first Gulf-Central Asian summit as historic, saying it is a new form of interregional cooperation between two important global regions regarding geopolitics and geographical economy.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Aloev stressed that cooperation between Central Asian countries and the GCC is essential given the complex international scene.
He stated that boosting the existing relations between the two sides in modern circumstances meets the long-term interests of both regions.
The official stressed that developing his country’s relations with Saudi Arabia comes at the forefront of its foreign policy priorities, pointing out that the Kingdom “has great credibility and financial and economic capabilities not only in Arab and Islamic countries but the whole world.”
The summit is being held amid growing regional and international interest and competition in the five Central Asian countries given their location and geostrategic importance, and the natural resources they possess that would allow them to make great strides in development.
Despite being landlocked, the Central Asian region “represents the heart of the earth,” according to British geographer John Mackinder, one of the founders of geopolitics, stating that “whoever controls it controls the world.”
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Gulf Research Center Dr. Abdulaziz bin Sager stressed that Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries have taken reasonable steps towards developing cooperation with the Islamic republics in Central Asia.
He noted that cooperation with these countries is a political, economic, security, and cultural necessity.
He told Asharq Al-Awsat that the interest of the Gulf countries in Central Asia “is not a reaction to the regional and international competition,” but there are realistic and strategic considerations that require solid relations and strategic partnerships.
He highlighted the common factors between the two sides, noting that they have economic interests because of their essential natural resources and wealth.
He added that the two regions share similar priorities, such as oil and gas as a strategic goal and their cooperation to confront terrorism.
The Gulf countries, especially Saudi Arabia, were among the first countries that were keen to develop relations with Central Asia based on the historic relations and how the region is a natural extension of the Gulf.