Statement by the Chief Executive of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan H.E. Dr. Abdullah Abdullah At the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Council of Heads of Government

بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم

 

Excellency Abdullah Aripov Prime Minister of the Republic of Uzbekistan,

Excellencies, Heads of Governments,

Honorable Secretary General Vladimir Norov,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

I am pleased to be here with my delegation to take part at the 18th Meeting of the Council of Heads of Governments of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in the beautiful city of Tashkent.

 

I would like to thank the brotherly Government of the Republic of Uzbekistan for the warm hospitality extended to my delegation and the excellent arrangements for this important meeting as we discuss important SCO, regional and other relevant topics today.

 

Excellencies,

Regional cooperation is a key element of Afghanistan’s foreign, security and economic policies. We believe that through regional cooperation and thoughtful integration, not only will we identify and seize new opportunities for development and growth across our vast and rich region but we can also overcome the structural impediments and deal with common challenges.

 

Successful regional cooperation experiences are not only critical for advancing social and economic development objectives but also generate wealth, assure stability and long-term peace. It is in this context that we consider the SCO as a unique regional platform for converging ideas, policies and projects on regional issues including trade, infrastructure development, counter-narcotics and counter terrorism.

 

Excellencies,

Presidential elections were held in Afghanistan on September 28 this year. Despite numerous threats from Taliban and Daesh, the people of Afghanistan went to the polls to defend their democratic rights and protect the gains made over the past few years. Our people demand that elections be transparent and credible while the independent election and electoral complaints commissions work on finalizing the results. The legitimacy of the next government on the basis of people’s valid votes is a solid step towards stability and our aim to reach a peaceful outcome in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan remains the frontline state against the global threat of transnational terrorism. The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces are fighting an array of terrorist groups that have regional and global reach and threaten international peace and security as well as our shared security goals. We do so with your help and the help of other international friends with great sacrifice and cost in blood and treasure.

 

While our commitment for pursing a just and durable peace process through dialogue will continue, our region needs to develop a more efficient joint counter-terrorism strategy as a matter of urgency in order to deal with the evolving threat of terrorism.

 

We therefore propose that the SCO undertakes necessary measures for developing an SCO regional counter-terrorism strategy in order to address the evolving menace of terrorism in our region through collective and concrete measures.

 

The efforts to achieve peace, reach a political settlement to end the war and violence in Afghanistan continues. The people of Afghanistan support the efforts for a just, durable and credible peace. This means that all sides have to stick to commitments and the will of our people. We are working on strengthening Afghan consensus and look forward to working with all regional and international stakeholders who have helped move the process in the right direction.

 

I would like to take this opportunity to extend my appreciation and thank the Unites States, the European Union, Russia, Uzbekistan, China and other nations for their efforts in helping us reach a durable peace.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Afghanistan is not only the Heart of Asia but also an important connector nation within the SCO, bordering almost all of the member states, that has yet to become a full member.

 

After we submitted our request for full membership in 2015, we have made positive progress reaching our goal of full membership in the SCO with the re-establishment of the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group in 2018 during the Qingdao Summit in China with the signing of the Protocol to formalize this mechanism.

 

After the re-establishment of the Contact Group, we have successfully held three rounds of meetings at the level of Deputy Foreign Ministers to discuss a range of important topics including economic and trade cooperation, security and counter-terrorism situation, and the status of the peace and reconciliation process.

 

Earlier this year, we took another important step in enhancing our cooperation with the SCO by signing the roadmap for the implementation of the Protocol for the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group in the areas of economy, security, culture and sports and people-to-people exchanges.

 

Promoting cooperation in the areas of trade and economic activity between the SCO member states and Afghanistan, including implementation of infrastructure projects, creation of favorable conditions for expansion of cross-border trade and air, road and rail freight transportation, can contribute to a peaceful and stable Afghanistan affecting the SCO region as well.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Along with other regional organizations, the Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process is another platform that Afghanistan uses to promote regional cooperation. This process has dedicated six confidence building measures to deal with important issues of regional infrastructure, trade, commerce and investment, education and culture, disaster management, counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism.  I am glad that all members of the SCO are also actively participating in the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process.

 

On 22 July 2019, jointly with the UNODC, we held the Regional Conference on Counter-terrorism and Counter-Narcotics; I want to extend my gratitude here to Kazakhstan for hosting this important gathering. The conference was successful in enhancing cooperation between the countries of the region and in identifying interlinkages between terrorism and narcotics.

Excellencies,

At the end, let me reiterate once again that the prosperity of the SCO region is closely associated with peace and stability in Afghanistan. It is therefore incumbent upon us to work closely to address our common challenges in a collective and constructive manner as we seek to find a just and honorable end to war.

Thank you.