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Tashkent to Host a High-Level Conference on Afghanistan
The global and regional powers, Afghanistan’s neighbors will attend the Tashkent International Conference “Peace Process, Security Cooperation and Regional Connectivity”.
From the early days of his leadership of the country, President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev defined building up constructive, mutually advantageous and good-neighborly relations with Central Asian nations and cementing security in this part of the world as the principal foreign policy priority.
Uzbekistan’s leader detailed the international community about his strategic vision for ensuring regional security and stability in September 2017 at the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City. In November later that year, during the Samarkand Conference “Central Asia: One Past and a Common Future, Cooperation for Sustainable Development and Mutual Prosperity”, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev proposed a comprehensive program of joint efforts at the regional and international levels to secure enduring peace and stability in Central Asia, including Afghanistan.
The policy implications of the speeches by President of the Republic of Uzbekistan at those international forums, his examination of the current situation in Central Asia and Afghanistan and the prospects of developments have generated a reflective interest in the international community.
As the President has noted, “Central Asia, being in the heart of Eurasia, stands as a bridge connecting Europe and the Middle East, South and East Asia”. The region is rich in natural resources. There is a unique cultural and civilization potential, which has had a decisive influence on the development of many countries and entire regions.
In the meantime, according to President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Central Asia constitutes a crossing point of the interests of world powers, and the region adjoins the pivots of instability and conflict, experiencing the impact of all the downbeat processes occurring in the near and far abroad.
In this regard, the President of Uzbekistan was right in posing the question as to what developments the region can encounter. Will it go under the scenario of conflicts and confrontations or along the path of cooperation and progress?
The answer is obvious, that is, everything depends, first and foremost, on the willingness of the Central Asian states to assume responsibility for the common future of the region.
Bordering on all countries of Central Asia, Uzbekistan is unswervingly interested in the region becoming a zone of stability, sustainable development and good-neighborliness.
As Uzbekistan’s leader has repeatedly stressed, peaceful, economically prosperous Central Asia is our most critical goal and key task.
Meanwhile, it is impossible to achieve those objectives without addressing one of the most pressing regional and global issues, namely, the conflict in the neighboring Afghanistan, which historically and geopolitically is an integral part of our common region.
Peace in Afghanistan is bedrock of stability and prosperity of Central Asia. Speaking at the international conference in Samarkand, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev stated frankly that it is essential to refuse to divide the security threats into ‘our own and those of others’ and in fact adhere to the principle of indivisibility of security.
A peaceful Afghanistan is able to ensure the shortest possible access for the nations of Central Asia to the harbors of the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf, to connect India, Iran and Pakistan with the markets of Europe and the Middle East.
To this end, what comes to the fore of the problem is the formation of an extensive and solid international consensus on the basic issues of establishing peace and security in Afghanistan, supporting the efforts of Afghan-owned, Afghan-led process for national reconciliation in the country.
Uzbekistan has always been and remains a fundamental advocate of a political settlement of the situation in Afghanistan, making its feasible contribution to the country’s socio-economic development.
In this regard, Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s initiative to organize – on March 26-27 this year in Tashkent, jointly with the Afghan side – an international high-level conference on Afghanistan, “Peace Process, Security Cooperation and Regional Connectivity”, is an important part of the Uzbek leadership’s overall strategy to provide for regional security and stability.
Our country has been an active party to almost all international forums addressing the Afghan crisis, including the Kabul Process, the Moscow Format, the Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process, the International Contact Group on Afghanistan, the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group, the Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA).
During a UN Security Council session in New York on January 19, 2018, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan delivered a joint presentation of the forthcoming Tashkent forum.
The conference in Tashkent is due following the second meeting of the Kabul Process that took place on February 28 this year in Afghanistan’s capital. It will come to be a logical extension of the efforts undertaken by the international community to secure peace and stability in the country.
President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev and President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani are to deliver keynote speeches at the opening ceremony of the conference.
Among those invited to the Tashkent meeting are the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and Special Representative of the Organization for Afghanistan Tadamichi Yamamoto, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, as well as foreign ministers of China, Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Turkey, India, Iran, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
It is expected that the forum participants will convey their consolidated stance – at the regional and global levels – on the need for the soonest start of direct talks between the Government of Afghanistan and the Taliban Movement without any preconditions.
The conference is projected to result in the adoption of Tashkent Declaration anticipated to reflect the following key points:
First, the peace process ought to be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned and in accordance with the provisions of resolutions and decisions of the UN General Assembly and Security Council;
Second, the guaranteed integration of the armed opposition into the political life of Afghanistan and its recognition as a legitimate political force is instrumental in the success of the peace process;
Third, the international community strongly opposes all forms and manifestations of terrorism without any distinction, and recognizes that the threats of transnational terrorism, drug trafficking and organized crime are common challenges to stability and sustainable development both for Afghanistan, the region and the world as a whole.
The Tashkent Conference is to follow the first meeting of the new format of cooperation, Central Asia + Afghanistan (“C5 + 1”), designed to discuss specific areas of interaction between the Central Asian nations and Afghanistan. The activity of this format will contribute to Afghanistan’s successful integration into the system of trade, economic and infrastructural relations with the states of Central Asia, the effective implementation of projects and programs of regional scale.
Initiating to hold the Tashkent Conference, Uzbekistan by no means intends to confine itself to arranging it as a one-time event, but continue with vigorous efforts – both bilaterally and multilaterally – to promote a peaceful political process in Afghanistan.
As President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s foreign policy strategy finds its application, Uzbekistan is becoming a proactive contributor to and constituent part of the political process for a peaceful settlement to the Afghan conflict. Worth underscoring once again that the principal role and responsibility in this process belongs with the Afghans themselves, who must determine and build the future of their country.
The gracious goals set for the Tashkent Conference, as well as the participation in it of all permanent members of the UN Security Council, the SCO member states and the countries neighboring Afghanistan, including the five Central Asian nations, have been triggering a growing interest in the forum around the globe. A large group of representatives of the world mass media is expected to arrive to partake in the coverage of the event.
We express hope that the outcomes of the international meeting in Uzbekistan’s capital city will come to be a vital milestone in the stabilization of Afghanistan, in the delivery of prerequisites for its sustainable development, enhancement of the Afghan people’s welfare and the latter’s engagement in the constructive processes in the region and the world in general. The success of the Tashkent forum should demonstrate the ability of the region’s states to resolve common grave issues through joint efforts by opening up extensive opportunities for peace and progress.
Press Service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Uzbekistan