Pres­i­dent Shavkat Mirziy­oyev’s Keynote Speech at the Tashkent In­ter­na­tional Con­fer­ence on Afghanistan

Your Ex­cel­lency Pres­i­dent Mr. Ashraf Ghani! Dear Ms. Fed­er­ica Mogherini! Dis­tin­guished for­eign min­is­ters, heads of del­e­ga­tions! Ladies and gen­tle­men!

Uzbekistan Today (English) - - FRONT PAGE -

Al­low me on be­half of the peo­ple of Uzbek­istan to cor­dially wel­come all par­tic­i­pants and guests of the high-level in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence on Afghanistan in the cap­i­tal city of our coun­try.

I sin­cerely thank you for your par­tic­i­pa­tion in this Fo­rum and I am pleased to see you on the hos­pitable land of Uzbek­istan.

This con­fer­ence is a joint ini­tia­tive of the Repub­lic of Uzbek­istan and the Is­lamic Repub­lic of Afghanistan.

It is a log­i­cal con­tin­u­a­tion of the ef­forts to en­sure peace and sta­bil­ity in Afghanistan made by the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity.

I would like to ex­tend a spe­cial grat­i­tude to His Ex­cel­lency Pres­i­dent Mr. Ashraf Ghani for his per­sonal par­tic­i­pa­tion in our Fo­rum.

I also ex­press a sin­cere grat­i­tude to the United Na­tions Sec­re­tary­Gen­eral Mr. An­to­nio Guter­res, who from the on­set has sup­ported our ini­tia­tive to hold the in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence and sent his wel­com­ing ad­dress to its par­tic­i­pants.

We highly ap­pre­ci­ate the com­mit­ment of Mr. An­to­nio Guter­res to ad­vance­ment of ne­go­ti­a­tions in the frame­work of the process of peace set­tle­ment in Afghanistan, as well as his ef­forts in terms of as­sis­tance to se­cu­rity and sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment in our re­gion.

In Jan­uary this year the de­bate on Cen­tral Asia and Afghanistan un­der the pres­i­dency of Kaza­khstan took place at the United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil. Tak­ing this op­por­tu­nity, I would like to ex­press a sin­cere grat­i­tude to the Pres­i­dent of the Repub­lic of Kaza­khstan Nur­sul­tan Abi­she­vich Nazarbayev for the ini­tia­tive to dis­cuss this most im­por­tant prob­lem.

I am also grate­ful to all mem­bers of the United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil for valu­able pro­pos­als enun­ci­ated in the course of dis­cus­sions. Many of them were taken into ac­count in the draft of the fi­nal doc­u­ment of our con­fer­ence – Tashkent Dec­la­ra­tion pre­pared jointly with the Afghan col­leagues.

I am pleased from the bot­tom of my heart to also wel­come:

- High Rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Euro­pean Union for For­eign Af­fairs and Se­cu­rity Pol­icy Ms. Fed­er­ica Mogherini;

- the heads and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of for­eign pol­icy in­sti­tu­tions of the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China, Rus­sian Fed­er­a­tion, United States of Amer­ica, Ja­pan, Ger­many, Great Bri­tain, France, Italy, Turkey, In­dia, Iran, Pak­istan, Saudi Ara­bia, United Arab Emi­rates, Qatar, Kaza­khstan, Kyr­gyzs­tan, Ta­jik­istan and Turk­menistan, as well as in­ter­na­tional and re­gional or­ga­ni­za­tions.

I would like to un­der­score that the rep­re­sen­ta­tives of all Per­ma­nent Mem­ber States of the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil and coun­tries of the Shanghai Co­op­er­a­tion Or­ga­ni­za­tion are gath­ered to­day in this hall.


Th­ese days we are broadly cel­e­brat­ing our tra­di­tional hol­i­day of spring and re­newal – Navruz. From of old, dur­ing this pe­riod the wars used to cease, peo­ple for­gave grievances to one an­other and used to come to ac­cord even on the most, as it seemed, the in­sol­u­ble prob­lems.

I am con­fi­dent that to­day we will also be able to con­struc­tively dis­cuss and elab­o­rate the joint so­lu­tion on one of the most acute re­gional and global prob­lems of moder­nity – the con­flict in Afghanistan, which, to a great re­gret, has al­ready been go­ing on for nearly 40 years.

In essence, «the flame of war» was im­posed to the Afghan peo­ple from out­side. It is not his choice. For over th­ese years hun­dreds of thou­sands of peace­ful cit­i­zens be­came vic­tims of the con­fronta­tion while mil­lions of peo­ple had to flee their homes and seek shel­ter in other coun­tries.

The con­stant en­gage­ment of new forces in the con­flict has led to its un­prece­dented ag­gra­va­tion. This con­flict has ceased to be ex­clu­sively Afghan one while trans­form­ing in greater terms into a com­plex in­ter­na­tional prob­lem.

The ex­pan­sion of pres­ence of in­ter­na­tional ter­ror­ist groups in Afghanistan, on­go­ing vi­o­lence and blood­shed, and drug busi­ness – all of this speaks about that it is in­ad­mis­si­ble to ig­nore by the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity the sit­u­a­tion in this coun­try.

Most im­por­tantly, the en­tire gen­er­a­tion grew up in Afghanistan in the con­di­tions of armed con­fronta­tion and vi­o­lence. How­ever, this is not «a lost gen­er­a­tion» as some ex­perts cyn­i­cally re­fer to.

Th­ese are just peo­ple who have tired of war, de­pri­va­tions and hard­ships, who want and try to put an end to en­mity and re­turn to peace­ful life and cre­ativ­ity for the good of their coun­try.

I am deeply con­vinced: the Afghan peo­ple have strength, wis­dom, courage and per­se­ver­ance to start a new and peace­ful life, and to build it for the sake of pros­per­ity of their chil­dren and fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

The states and high-pro­file in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions, whose rep­re­sen­ta­tives are to­day par­tic­i­pat­ing in our Fo­rum, can and must play a de­ci­sive role in as­sist­ing peace­ful set­tle­ment of sit­u­a­tion in this long-suf­fer­ing coun­try.

The events in the Mid­dle East and North Africa led to the fact that the sit­u­a­tion in Afghanistan was left for some time out of fo­cus of world pol­i­tics. How­ever, the con­flict didn’t lose its tense­ness and sharp­ness.

The fol­low­ing fac­tors have ne­ces­si­tated the pro­posal to hold the in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence in Uzbek­istan and the need to unite ef­forts aimed at en­sur­ing peace and sta­bil­ity in Afghanistan.

First, our ini­tia­tive fully cor­re­sponds to Uzbek­istan’s for­eign pol­icy con­cept, which de­fines as a main pri­or­ity con­sol­i­da­tion of friendly and mu­tu­ally ad­van­ta­geous re­la­tions with neigh­bor­ing coun­tries.

Sec­ond, for over the span of mil­len­nia the peo­ple of Uzbek­istan and Afghanistan de­vel­oped in one cul­ture and civ­i­liza­tion space.

Since the an­cient times, the peo­ple have been re­sid­ing on both banks of Amudarya River. They share sim­i­lar­ity of lan­guages, common sa­cred re­li­gion and spir­i­tual val­ues.

Amudarya River has al­ways been a source of life for us, but never a bar­rier for a free move­ment of peo­ple, de­vel­op­ment of close trade ties, ex­change with sci­en­tific achieve­ments and mu­tual en­rich­ment of cul­tures.

Such out­stand­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Cen­tral Asian Re­nais­sance as Abu Raikhan Beruniy, Lut­fiy, Alisher Navoiy, Kamolid­din Bekhzod, Zakhirid­din Muham­mad Babur, Bob­o­rakhim Mashrab and many oth­ers – our great an­ces­tors lived and cre­ated in the Afghan land.

To­day Uzbek­istan and Afghanistan lead close po­lit­i­cal, trade-eco­nomic and cul­tur­al­hu­man­i­tar­ian re­la­tions. Mil­lions of Uzbeks live in Afghanistan. In line with Afghanistan’s Con­sti­tu­tion, Uzbek is one of the of­fi­cial lan­guages.

Third, all of us are firmly con­vinced that se­cu­rity is in­di­vis­i­ble and it can be en­sured only through joint ef­forts. We must not, and speak­ing more con­cretely, we do not have a right to per­ceive some threats as «our own» and yet oth­ers as «not ours».

Afghanistan’s se­cu­rity is se­cu­rity of Uzbek­istan, linch­pin of sta­bil­ity and pros­per­ity of en­tire greater re­gion of Cen­tral and South Asia.

It must not be al­lowed for the in­ter­na­tional ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tions to turn Afghanistan into their con­stant safe heaven.

Fourth, Uzbek­istan has the ex­pe­ri­ence of as­sist­ing the peace­ful process in Afghanistan.

In 1999 on the ini­tia­tive of Uzbek­istan the meet­ing of the Group «6+2» took place in Tashkent on the level of heads of for­eign pol­icy in­sti­tu­tions of states neigh­bor­ing on Afghanistan, as well as Rus­sia and the United States.

The rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the North­ern Al­liance and Tal­iban move­ment also par­tic­i­pated at that meet­ing.

On the out­comes of ne­go­ti­a­tions, the Tashkent dec­la­ra­tion on ma­jor prin­ci­ples of peace­ful set­tle­ment of the con­flict in Afghanistan was adopted, which be­came an of­fi­cial doc­u­ment of the 54th Ses­sion of the UN Gen­eral As­sem­bly and Se­cu­rity Coun­cil.

In this re­gard, we have all grounds, both po­lit­i­cal and moral right to speak about our common fu­ture with Afghanistan and raise is­sues which equally bother both our Afghan broth­ers and us.

It is there­fore that Uzbek­istan calls upon all coun­tries of the world to sup­port our ef­forts in this noble cause.


At present, the mul­ti­fac­eted and not sim­ple is­sues of set­tle­ment of the sit­u­a­tion in Afghanistan are broadly dis­cussed on the re­gional and in­ter­na­tional lev­els.

The Kabul process, Moscow for­mat, In­ter­na­tional Con­tact Group, Is­tan­bul process – «The heart of Asia», Con­tact group «SCO-Afghanistan» and other mul­ti­lat­eral plat­forms de­serve most se­ri­ous at­ten­tion which are es­tab­lished to seek ways of set­tle­ment of the mil­i­tary-po­lit­i­cal cri­sis in Afghanistan.

Uzbek­istan sup­ports de­ci­sions adopted by par­tic­i­pants of the sec­ond meet­ing in the frame­work of the Kabul process in fa­vor of launch­ing di­rect talks be­tween the Afghan govern­ment and Tal­iban move­ment «with­out pre­lim­i­nary con­di­tions and threats of use of vi­o­lence».

How­ever, we be­lieve that the main con­di­tion of ad­vance­ment to­wards peace is, first of all, to draft and im­ple­ment in prac­tice the sole, both re­gion­ally and glob­ally en­dorsed Com­pre­hen­sive peace pro­gram for Afghanistan.

Pro­ceed­ing from this, the fol­low­ing must be­come our ma­jor goals and tasks:

First is to draft ba­sic prin­ci­ples of peace­ful set­tle­ment and se­cure broad in­ter­na­tional consensus on them;

Sec­ond is to de­velop a mech­a­nism to start ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween the Afghan govern­ment and the armed op­po­si­tion;

Third is to adopt a «Road map» of as­sis­tance by the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to the process of na­tional rec­on­cil­i­a­tion in Afghanistan.

And fi­nally, it will be of in­valu­able sig­nif­i­cance the res­o­lute and unan­i­mous ap­peal of all in­ter­ested ex­ter­nal forces to the armed op­po­si­tion with a call to come to the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble with the Afghan govern­ment and put an end to con­fronta­tion and vi­o­lence.

There is no al­ter­na­tive to this. In our opin­ion, this is the key mes­sage of to­day’s meet­ing.


Tak­ing into ac­count the ex­tremely com­plex and con­tra­dic­tory na­ture of the con­flict in Afghanistan, the in­volve­ment of var­i­ous forces in it, and based on the cer­tain res­o­lu­tions of the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, we be­lieve it is im­por­tant to en­sure pro­mo­tion of a com­pre­hen­sive peace process on three in­ter­re­lated and in­ter­de­pen­dent lev­els.

At the in­tra-Afghan level – it is nec­es­sary to en­sure start of a di­rect di­a­logue, with­out pre­lim­i­nary con­di­tions, among the cen­tral govern­ment and main forces of the armed op­po­si­tion, pri­mar­ily, the Tal­iban move­ment.

The ques­tions that the par­ties have to­wards one an­other may be­come a subject of the forth­com­ing ne­go­ti­a­tion process.

It is ob­vi­ous that the start of the in­tra-Afghan po­lit­i­cal process can no longer be post­poned. Its de­lay will cost the lives of many more in­no­cent peo­ple.

In or­der to en­sure suc­cess of peace process, it is im­por­tant that the choice of for­mat, time and venue of peace talks should be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned.

Pri­mar­ily, the point is about re­frain­ing from com­bat ac­tiv­i­ties and un­con­di­tional com­pli­ance with cease­fire both by the armed op­po­si­tion and the Afghan na­tional se­cu­rity forces.

Shar­ing the common re­spon­si­bil­ity for a peace­ful fu­ture of Afghanistan and based on tra­di­tion­ally friendly re­la­tions be­tween the Uzbek and Afghan peo­ple, we stand ready to cre­ate all nec­es­sary con­di­tions, at any stage of the peace process, to ar­range on the ter­ri­tory of Uzbek­istan the di­rect talks be­tween the govern­ment of Afghanistan and Tal­iban move­ment.

In case of the op­po­si­tion’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in the peace talks and achieve­ment of na­tional rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, all con­di­tions should be cre­ated for its in­te­gra­tion into po­lit­i­cal life of Afghanistan.

The rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the armed op­po­si­tion, in­clud­ing Tal­iban, as a part of the Afghan so­ci­ety and cit­i­zens of Afghanistan, have a voice in defin­ing the fu­ture of their coun­try.

Along with this, it is ex­tremely im­por­tant to start the in­ter-Afghan di­a­logue in the pe­riod be­fore the par­lia­men­tary and pres­i­den­tial elec­tions in the coun­try which will pro­vide for broad op­por­tu­ni­ties to all lay­ers of so­ci­ety, in­clud­ing the op­po­si­tion forces, for their full par­tic­i­pa­tion in the con­struc­tion of a new Afghanistan.

At the re­gional level – it is nec­es­sary to en­sure a firm consensus, pri­mar­ily with the sup­port of Pak­istan, In­dia, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Ara­bia, United Arab Emi­rates, Qatar and the coun­tries of Cen­tral Asia.

I think we all well un­der­stand that ad­dress­ing a whole range of key is­sues of eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, en­sur­ing se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity in Afghanistan in many re­spects de­pends on neigh­bor­ing states, on our good will and firm de­ter­mi­na­tion, readi­ness to ac­tively pro­mote na­tional rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and end­ing vi­o­lence in this coun­try.

The ef­forts of all neigh­bor­ing coun­tries and part­ners should not re­place, but com­ple­ment one an­other. We need to de­velop the agreed mea­sures, ap­proaches and prac­ti­cal mech­a­nisms to re­solve this prob­lem.

As the UN Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral An­to­nio Guter­res stated at the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil meet­ing in Jan­uary this year, the new dy­nam­ics of re­gional in­ter­ac­tion «will open up great op­por­tu­ni­ties to all of us to ful­fill common, long over­due and ur­gent tasks».

We need to start con­sid­er­ing Afghanistan as not a coun­try from the ter­ri­tory of which the threat to peace and sta­bil­ity is em­a­nat­ing. Afghanistan is our friendly part­ner and neigh­bor.

I am con­fi­dent that our common ef­forts to in­volve Afghanistan into the sys­tem of trade, eco­nomic, trans­port-com­mu­ni­ca­tion and cul­tural-hu­man­i­tar­ian re­la­tions with neigh­bor­ing coun­tries will sig­nif­i­cantly con­trib­ute to nor­mal­iza­tion of the sit­u­a­tion and re­turn­ing of this coun­try to a peace­ful life.

I have no doubt that in the long run peace on the Afghan soil will open up the new op­por­tu­ni­ties and bring real ben­e­fits to all states of the greater Eurasian con­ti­nent. It will pro­mote strength­en­ing common se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity, cre­ate fa­vor­able con­di­tions for the con­struc­tion of mo­tor­ways and rail­roads, lay­ing of pipe­lines, de­vel­op­ment of re­gional and tran­sre­gional trade.

Tak­ing this op­por­tu­nity, I would like to note that Uzbek­istan is con­tribut­ing a fair share to the so­cio-eco­nomic re­vival of Afghanistan.

Since 2002 we have been sup­ply­ing elec­tric­ity to Afghanistan.

With com­mis­sion­ing of a new power trans­mis­sion line SurkhanPuli-Khumri the vol­ume of elec­tric­ity sup­ply from Uzbek­istan to Afghanistan will sharply in­crease.

We are jointly pro­mot­ing the im­ple­men­ta­tion of an­other strate­gic project – ex­ten­sion of the cur­rently op­er­at­ing Haira­ton-Mazar-i-Sharif rail­way built by Uzbek spe­cial­ists up to Herat.

This project will al­low to make a real and prac­ti­cal con­tri­bu­tion to re­con­struc­tion of Afghanistan’s econ­omy, cre­ate new jobs and in­crease the transit po­ten­tial of the coun­try.

Launch­ing the trans-Afghan trans­port-com­mu­ni­ca­tion projects in close in­te­gra­tion with other and not less sig­nif­i­cant re­gional projects such as Uzbek­istan–Turk­menistan– Iran–Oman and Uzbek­istanKyr­gyzs­tan–China will also cre­ate all nec­es­sary con­di­tions for the de­vel­op­ment of in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal trans­port cor­ri­dors in al­most all di­rec­tions – from north to south and from east to west through the short­est route.

The re­la­tion­ships in the sphere of hu­man­i­ties are ac­tively de­vel­op­ing. A Cen­ter for train­ing Afghan cit­i­zens spe­cially es­tab­lished in our bor­der town of Ter­mez started func­tion­ing in Jan­uary.

At present, about 100 young men and women from Afghanistan are al­ready study­ing there.

We in­tend to ex­pand the list of spe­cial­ties and fields of train­ing of Afghan spe­cial­ists in this Cen­ter.

At the global level – it is nec­es­sary to en­sure a prin­ci­ple po­lit­i­cal sup­port by lead­ing world pow­ers and donor or­ga­ni­za­tions to the peace process and en­sure fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance to Afghanistan’s so­cio-eco­nomic re­cov­ery.

Thanks to their as­sis­tance, the coun­try has al­ready em­barked on a path of peace­ful de­vel­op­ment. To­day, Afghanistan is ab­so­lutely dif­fer­ent coun­try from what it used to be 20 years ago.

The open demo­cratic elec­tions gave a start to the new stage of state build­ing and pos­i­tive changes are wit­nessed in the life of or­di­nary Afghan cit­i­zens.

The govern­ment has been able to widely cover the pop­u­la­tion with ed­u­ca­tion and health ser­vices.

All of this tes­ti­fies to the as­pi­ra­tion of the Afghan peo­ple to a peace­ful life and de­vel­op­ment.

The im­por­tant po­lit­i­cal events – the par­lia­men­tary and pres­i­den­tial elec­tions are due in the next two years in Afghanistan which must con­firm the con­sis­tent progress of the coun­try along the path of sta­ble demo­cratic de­vel­op­ment.


Ob­vi­ously, we all need to re­al­ize that we are strug­gling not just for the fu­ture of Afghanistan, but for our common se­cu­rity, for a world with­out ter­ror­ism, fa­nati­cism and vi­o­lence.

We must not re­peat the mis­takes of the past. We must re­mem­ber our shared re­spon­si­bil­ity.

The task of achiev­ing peace in Afghanistan is closely in­ter­linked with ef­forts aimed at com­bat­ing ter­ror­ism and ex­trem­ism, which now have in­deed turned into an un­prece­dented threat to global se­cu­rity and de­vel­op­ment.

We are deeply con­vinced that it is very im­por­tant that all ex­ter­nal forces un­con­di­tion­ally sup­port the Afghan govern­ment in an ef­fort to elim­i­nate the strongholds of for­eign ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tions in Afghanistan, deny fi­nan­cial and lo­gis­ti­cal sup­port to ter­ror­ism with­out any dis­tinc­tion.

Uzbek­istan has al­ways ad­hered to a prin­ci­ple po­si­tion in the fight against ter­ror­ism, ide­ol­ogy of ex­trem­ism and rad­i­cal­ism.

Th­ese threats must be fought not only by use of force, but firstly through en­light­en­ment, es­pe­cially among the youth, against ig­no­rance which gives rise to vi­o­lence.

Last year at the 72nd Ses­sion of the UN Gen­eral As­sem­bly Uzbek­istan pro­posed to de­velop and adopt the In­ter­na­tional Con­ven­tion on the Rights of the Youth.

Our main goal is to pro­vide uni­ver­sal ac­cess for young peo­ple to a qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion and cre­ate all nec­es­sary con­di­tions for their sel­f­re­al­iza­tion.

We pro­pose all our for­eign part­ners a close in­ter­ac­tion in terms of com­mu­ni­cat­ing to peo­ple, es­pe­cially the youth, the hu­man­is­tic essence of Is­lam.

To this end, I think it would be ex­pe­di­ent to use the po­ten­tial of the Imam Bukhariy In­ter­na­tional Re­search Cen­ter, Cen­ter of Is­lamic Civ­i­liza­tion and Is­lamic Academy of Uzbek­istan es­tab­lished in Uzbek­istan.

As a fol­low-up ini­tia­tive, we also pro­pose to es­tab­lish a spe­cial In­ter­na­tional Fund to Sup­port Ed­u­ca­tion in Afghanistan.

The primary goal is to as­sist Afghanistan in train­ing its na­tional cadres on the most de­manded fields, al­lo­ca­tion of schol­ar­ships and grants for tal­ented stu­dents and young sci­en­tists.

We firmly be­lieve that form­ing the pres­tige of ed­u­ca­tion in so­ci­ety and pro­mot­ing strive for self-im­prove­ment among youth is a guar­an­tee of sus­tain­able and steady de­vel­op­ment.

All of this, of course, will con­trib­ute to pro­tect­ing younger gen­er­a­tion from the ide­ol­ogy of vi­o­lence and rad­i­cal­ism.


I am con­fi­dent that con­duct­ing this Con­fer­ence, en­gag­ing in con­struc­tive di­a­logue and dis­cus­sions, and adop­tion of the fi­nal Tashkent Dec­la­ra­tion will al­low to achieve prac­ti­cal pos­i­tive re­sults and be­come a kind of a «Road map» of the peace process in Afghanistan.

In fact, with your sup­port, a doc­u­ment will be adopted which re­flects the po­lit­i­cal will and mu­tual un­der­stand­ing of all stake­hold­ers on the key is­sues of Afghan set­tle­ment.

The fu­ture of Afghanistan must not turn into an ex­am­ple of fail­ure of the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to counter chal­lenges and threats shared by all of us.

To­day, more than ever it is im­por­tant for all of us to unite and ex­tend the hand of peace, co­op­er­a­tion and sup­port to the long­suf­fer­ing peo­ple of Afghanistan.

I sin­cerely wish all par­tic­i­pants of the Con­fer­ence a pro­duc­tive work!

Thank you for your at­ten­tion.

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