On 21-22 March 2022, the 15th Round-Table Meeting (RTM) for the Central Asia region took place in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), within the framework of the European Union (EU) Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Centres of Excellence Initiative (CoE).
The event was held in a blended format (face-to-face and online) allowing to bring together more than 40 participants, including National Focal Points from six partner countries from the Central Asian region. These included: the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Republic of Tajikistan and the Republic of Uzbekistan, as well as representatives of the International Science and Technology Center, the EU Delegations in the region, the EC Joint Research Centre (JRC), the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) and other organisations.
The meeting was opened by Mr. Bakhtiyor Gulyamov, Head of EU’s CBRN Centre of Excellence Regional Secretariat for Central Asia. He greeted all meeting participants and thanked the Head of CBRN CoE Secretariat for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region, Brig. Eng. Hussain Al Harthi, for the great cordiality and hospitality. In his speech, Mr. Gulyamov defined the COVID-19 outbreak as the worst health crisis the world has seen in a century and noted that it has caused the paralysis of national economies, leading to a compound crisis affecting global business and employment. He stressed that the current shifts in the geopolitical environment pose new challenges in terms of security and require serious consideration. In this context, it is critical that the countries of the Central Asian region, along with other partner countries, continue to build capacity in the field of CBRN risk mitigation.
Mr. Pietro De Matteis, Deputy Commissioner General for the European Union at EXPO2020, welcomed the participants and emphasized that “the EU CBRN Centres of Excellence Initiative is one of the flagship global projects of the European Union that seeks to mitigate chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) risks from beyond its borders.”
The CBRN CoE National Focal Point of the United Arab Emirates, Mr. Ahmed Al Shemeili welcomed all the participants on behalf of the Head of the CBRN Centre of Excellence Secretariat for the Gulf Cooperation Council region: “The Regional Secretariat for the GCC Region in the United Arab Emirates was happy to host our brothers and sisters from the CBRN Centres of Excellence of Central Asia. The meeting was an excellent occasion to exchange experiences in the area of CBRN risk mitigation and strengthen the relations between our countries and regions.”
The meeting provided an opportunity to discuss the achievements and interventions of the EU CBRN CoE Initiative in Central Asia, including updates on CBRN activities by partner countries. The consultation was followed by a discussion about common priorities, and a brainstorming on new project ideas with the potential to be turned into regional project proposals.
During the RTM, the participants also discussed the overall implementation of the CBRN Regional Action Plan and more in detail the modalities of JRC support in addressing the Needs Assessment Questionnaire (NAQ); the development and review of the CBRN National Action Plan; the status of the NAQ and NAP workshops in the Central Asia partner countries; and an update on schedule of the NAQ-NAP exercises.
Furthermore, the meeting focused on the review of the major outcomes and lessons learnt of the EU CBRN CoE Project 65 “Strengthening Chemical and Biological Waste Management in Central Asia Countries for Improved Security and Safety Risk Mitigation (CABICHEM)”; and discussed interventions within the scope of the EU CBRN CoE Project 87 “Preparedness and Response for Mass Gatherings and other Health Threats in Central Asia (PRECA).” The meeting also involved a consultation on how to take stock of the work on strengthening capacities in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic within the framework of EU CBRN CoE Project 53 “Strengthening National Legal Framework and Provision of Specialized Training on Bio-Safety and Bio-Security in Central Asian Countries”.
The meeting represented an unique opportunity to identify potential areas of interregional cooperation between the Central Asia and South East and Eastern Europe regions, as well as to enhance cooperation between the CoE Regional Secretariat for Central Asia and the EU-funded “Law Enforcement in Central Asia” project (LEICA), and Women in Nuclear Global (WiN Global).
The EU CBRN CoE Initiative is funded by the European Commission and implemented in cooperation with the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) and the European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC). The European External Action Service is also involved in the follow-up to the initiative. The initiative is developed with the technical support of relevant international and regional organizations, the EU Member States, and other stakeholders, through coherent and effective cooperation at the national, regional and international level. The initiative involves 62 countries in eight regions across the world.