Time to Turn the Page (of His­tory)

Ear­lier this week, Tashkent hosted an in­ter­na­tional high-level con­fer­ence on Afghanistan “Peace Process, Se­cu­rity Co­op­er­a­tion and Re­gional Con­nec­tiv­ity”. The fo­rum or­ga­nized at the ini­tia­tive of Uzbek­istan’s Pres­i­dent Shavkat Mirziy­oyev trig­gered great in

Uzbekistan Today (English) - - FRONT PAGE -

A host of lead­ers and other of­fi­cials vis­ited our cap­i­tal to par­tic­i­pate in the con­fer­ence, in­clud­ing Pres­i­dent of the Is­lamic Repub­lic of Afghanistan, Mo­ham­mad Ashraf Ghani, the UN Spe­cial Rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Afghanistan, Tadamichi Ya­mamoto, the High Rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Euro­pean Union for For­eign Af­fairs and Se­cu­rity Pol­icy Fed­er­ica Mogherini, as well as high-rank­ing diplo­mats of the United States, Bri­tain, Ger­many, Italy, France, Turkey, Rus­sia, China, In­dia, Iran, Pak­istan, Kaza­khstan, Kyr­gyzs­tan, Ta­jik­istan, Turk­menistan, Saudi Ara­bia and the United Arab Emi­rates, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of 25 states and in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions.

In most of the world over the past 40 years, a gen­er­a­tion has grown up, col­lided in some way with the Afghan war. The vic­tims of this un­just and bloody war were some­one’s sons, some rel­a­tives or neigh­bors. This ruth­less war took the lives of in­no­cent peo­ple, and its ter­ri­ble echoes fell upon other coun­tries, de­stroyed thou­sands of fam­i­lies, leav­ing be­hind or­phans. There­fore, the news of com­mis­sion­ing our con­scripts to Afghanistan on mil­i­tary ser­vice filled our hearts with fear and panic. Fathers hid from their par­ents that their son was sent to serve in Afghanistan, tried to sup­press har­bor­ing men­tal an­guish. And moth­ers al­ways prayed to the Almighty ask­ing for their kids to re­turn home alive and healthy.

Pres­i­dent of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani: The world has changed, the strate­gic rules of war are com­pletely ig­nored by the ad­ver­sary, at­tacks are aimed at civil­ians, women, chil­dren, the op­po­nent is wag­ing war against hos­pi­tals and schools, pub­lic life. But we live in a his­toric mo­ment, when we achieved a break­through in the fight against global ter­ror­ism.

Un­for­tu­nately, over the years, Afghanistan has turned from a bat­tle­field into a hot­bed of the spread of such crimes as drug traf­fick­ing, ter­ror­ism, ex­trem­ism. The con­flicts, di­cord and vi­o­lence, blood­shed on this land be­gan to pose a threat to all re­gions of the world.

If peace reigned in Afghanistan, the events of Septem­ber 11, 2001, would not have oc­curred, thou­sands of peo­ple would not have be­come vic­tims of ter­ror­ism. If peace­ful and non­vi­o­lent life reigned in this coun­try, re­li­gious ex­trem­ist move­ments would not have taken root, in the dif­fer­ent parts of the coun­try, de­struc­tive forces would not have formed, then the ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion, the so-called Is­lamic State, the il­le­gal trade in nar­cotic drugs and weapons would not pose a dan­ger not only for neigh­bor­ing states, but for the en­tire world com­mu­nity. EU High Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Fed­er­ica Mogherini: Our mes­sage to those who are still wag­ing war: choose the path of di­a­logue and armistice, have the courage to start peace talks. Then we can sup­port you, we will be­come part­ners in this di­a­logue. And we will help you fin­ish this war and es­tab­lish peace.

As the head of our state noted, in fact the ‘fire of war’ was im­posed on the Afghan peo­ple from out­side, and that was not their choice. Over the years, hun­dreds of thou­sands of civil­ians have been the vic­tims of the con­fronta­tion, mil­lions of peo­ple have been forced to flee their homes and seek refuge in other coun­tries.

Con­fronta­tions and con­flicts in this coun­try have a neg­a­tive im­pact on the ac­tive pro­cesses of in­te­gra­tion of Cen­tral Asian na­tions into the world econ­omy. For ex­am­ple, peace­ful Afghanistan due to trade and eco­nomic, trans­port and lo­gis­tics op­por­tu­ni­ties across the sea would pro­vide Uzbek­istan with the short­est ac­cess to other re­gions.

The long-stand­ing Afghan con­flict pushed the life of the Afghan peo­ple back to sev­eral decades ago. The cri­sis that arose there and the im­pov­er­ished peo­ple are wait­ing for a joint prac­ti­cal de­ci­sion on this is­sue from the world com­mu­nity, and the prob­lem has long been global. In this con­nec­tion, a num­ber of projects have been im­ple­mented in re­cent years, con­tact groups have been or­ga­nized.

Uzbek­istan par­tic­i­pated in in­ter­na­tional and re­gional con­fer­ences of var­i­ous for­mats held in 2017 on the res­o­lu­tion of the Afghan con­flict, in­clud­ing the Moscow ex­tended ses­sion (April), the Kabul Process (June), the Con­fer­ence on Re­gional Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion for the Is­lamic Repub­lic of Afghanistan (Ash­ga­bat, Novem­ber), the Is­tan­bul Heart of Asia Process (Baku, Novem­berDe­cem­ber) and the meet­ing of the In­ter­na­tional Con­tact Group (Oslo, De­cem­ber).

At the 72nd ses­sion of the UN Gen­eral As­sem­bly, Pres­i­dent Shavkat Mirziy­oyev out­lined Uzbek­istan’s po­si­tion on sta­bi­liz­ing the sit­u­a­tion in Afghanistan, and pre­sented con­crete pro­pos­als on this mat­ter. At an in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence held in Novem­ber in Sa­markand un­der the aus­pices of the United Na­tions, “Cen­tral Asia: One Past and a Common Fu­ture, Co­op­er­a­tion for Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment and Mu­tual Pros­per­ity”, ini­tia­tives were launched re­gard­ing the in­te­gra­tion of Afghanistan into re­gional eco­nomic pro­cesses. Dur­ing the high-level meet­ings of the Pres­i­dents of Uzbek­istan and Afghanistan, the con­struc­tive stance of our coun­try on this front was ce­mented through mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial agree­ments.

Or­ga­nized by the ini­tia­tive of the head of our state, the lat­est fo­rum dif­fers from pre­vi­ous in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ences in that it is aimed at find­ing con­crete so­lu­tions to the Afghan prob­lem. There­fore, the ini­tia­tive to hold it was widely sup­ported by the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity. Dur­ing this con­fer­ence aimed at achiev­ing peace and se­cu­rity in Afghanistan, through this peace process, not only in Cen­tral Asia, but also in the sur­round­ing re­gions, pres­ti­gious in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions, po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tists and ex­perts ex­pressed the opin­ion that it is of prac­ti­cal im­por­tance thanks to the con­crete pro­pos­als put for­ward to solve the prob­lems of the Afghan peo­ple.

US As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary of State Thomas Shan­non: The mil­i­tary track does not solve the prob­lem, and all par­ties should unite in their de­sire to have the Afghan govern­ment and the Tal­iban at the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble. With­out the par­tic­i­pa­tion of the Tal­iban, the prob­lem of Afghanistan can­not be ad­dressed.

Pres­i­dent of the Is­lamic Repub­lic of Afghanistan Mo­ham­mad Ashraf Ghani noted that the ini­tia­tive of Uzbek­istan to en­sure peace and se­cu­rity in Afghanistan is quite valu­able.

The Euro­pean Union’s High Rep­re­sen­ta­tive for For­eign Af­fairs and Se­cu­rity Pol­icy, Fed­er­ica Mogherini, ex­pressed in her speech sup­port for ini­tia­tives to sta­bi­lize the sit­u­a­tion in Afghanistan and noted that this is­sue is in the con­stant fo­cus of the Euro­pean Union.

Great in­ter­est in the fo­rum was ex­pressed by the United Na­tions. UN Sec­re­tary Gen­eral An­to­nio Guter­res sent a video mes­sage to the par­tic­i­pants of the con­fer­ence and noted the spe­cial im­por­tance of the fo­rum for achiev­ing peace in Afghanistan.

After the cer­e­mony of of­fi­cial pho­tograph­ing of the par­tic­i­pants, the Tashkent In­ter­na­tional Con­fer­ence con­tin­ued its work dur­ing panel ses­sions. Min­is­ter of For­eign Af­fairs of the Rus­sian Fed­er­a­tion Sergei Lavrov stressed the sig­nif­i­cance of the fact that the ini­tia­tive on the set­tle­ment of the Afghan prob­lem orig­i­nates from the coun­tries of the re­gion them­selves, the Tashkent Con­fer­ence is a timely and es­sen­tial po­lit­i­cal process, and that the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity ex­pects pos­i­tive re­sults from it.

Rus­sian For­eign Min­is­ter Sergei Lavrov: The pos­i­tive dy­nam­ics in the re­la­tions within the Cen­tral Asian ‘five’ ob­served lately cre­ates the con­di­tions for more ef­fec­tive con­tri­bu­tion to the pro­vi­sion of as­sis­tance to Afghanistan. We are con­vinced of the need for more ac­tive in­volve­ment of the po­ten­tial of as­so­ci­a­tions with the par­tic­i­pa­tion of Cen­tral Asian states.

Turk­ish For­eign Min­is­ter Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu stressed that the Tashkent con­fer­ence is of great im­por­tance in sta­bi­liz­ing the sit­u­a­tion in Afghanistan and will help speed up the process of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion of the op­pos­ing forces.

US Deputy Sec­re­tary of State for Po­lit­i­cal Af­fairs Thomas Shan­non noted that Uzbek­istan, through its ini­tia­tives to en­sure peace and se­cu­rity in Afghanistan, makes a wor­thy con­tri­bu­tion to the de­vel­op­ment of the coun­tries of the re­gion, step­ping up their co­op­er­a­tion, there­fore this con­fer­ence is per­ceived by the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity as a prac­ti­cal so­lu­tion to the prob­lem un­der dis­cus­sion.

The Deputy For­eign Min­is­ter of the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China, Li Baodong, un­der­scored the need to sup­port Afghanistan from neigh­bor­ing coun­tries in or­der to build up its in­vest­ment, trade and trans­port po­ten­tial.

The For­eign Min­is­ter of the Is­lamic Repub­lic of Pak­istan, Khawaj Muham­mad Asif, noted that the trou­bled sit­u­a­tion in Afghanistan has a neg­a­tive ef­fect on the sit­u­a­tion in the coun­tries of the near and far abroad, so the ex­pected re­sults can only be pro­vided by con­certed ac­tions of all par­ties for the sake of peace in this coun­try.

The con­fer­ence par­tic­i­pants agreed that the use by some geopo­lit­i­cal forces of the sit­u­a­tion in Afghanistan for their own pur­poses hin­ders the as­pi­ra­tions to im­prove the sit­u­a­tion in that coun­try. As a con­se­quence, con­di­tions are cre­ated for a deeper ad­vance of mil­i­tants of ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tions across Afghanistan and turn­ing it into their test­ing ground.

Afghanistan is lo­cated in an im­por­tant cross-bor­der re­gion. It is the Cen­tral Asian states that are most in­ter­ested in co­op­er­a­tion with this coun­try. At the con­fer­ence, the heads of the for­eign min­istries of the Cen­tral Struc­ture Yevgeny Sysoev, Spe­cial Rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Nor­we­gian Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs for Afghanistan and Pak­istan Rolf Willy Hansen and oth­ers spoke at the in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence.

Pro­pos­als and ini­tia­tives were put for­ward to es­tab­lish peace in Afghanistan, re­store the so­cioe­co­nomic struc­ture of this coun­try, and fully pro­mote its in­te­gra­tion into re­gional eco­nomic pro­cesses.

As an out­come of the con­fer­ence, its par­tic­i­pants signed the Tashkent Dec­la­ra­tion. The doc­u­ment re­flects such gra­cious goals as en­sur­ing peace and se­cu­rity in the re­gion, strength­en­ing co­op­er­a­tion in all ar­eas, fur­ther­ing the re­la­tions of good-neigh­bor­li­ness.

Uzbek For­eign Min­is­ter Ab­du­laziz Kamilov: The Tashkent Dec­la­ra­tion has be­come one of the in­di­ca­tors of joint work and unity in the ap­proaches to the so­lu­tion of the Afghan is­sue. This is an in­di­ca­tor that the world com­mu­nity

spe­cial grat­i­tude to the Pres­i­dent of Uzbek­istan for ini­ti­at­ing the his­toric event and its or­ga­ni­za­tion, along with the govern­ment and the peo­ple of our coun­try.

Worth not­ing that in the press cen­ter set up for the in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence, which in the last days worked round the clock, ev­ery­thing es­sen­tial was cre­ated for the com­plete and creative work of nu­mer­ous na­tional and for­eign jour­nal­ists. Here, be­fore the open­ing of the fo­rum, and dur­ing its days, meet­ings took place with ex­perts and con­fer­ence par­tic­i­pants, and me­dia rep­re­sen­ta­tives could get all the in­for­ma­tion they needed, and ex­change opin­ions with col­leagues.

Thus, the cor­re­spon­dent of the Rus­sian Neza­v­isi­maya Gazeta Vik­to­ria Pan­filova noted that there had been a great deal of meet­ings and fo­rums on the prob­lem of Afghanistan be­fore the Tashkent con­fer­ence. But the lat­ter is a very im­por­tant and his­toric step. In her opin­ion, the Pres­i­dent of Uzbek­istan will prob­a­bly suc­ceed in af­ford­ing a pos­i­tive ef­fect on the pro­tracted Afghan cri­sis.

The Afghan jour­nal­ist Suleiman Kayumi said that his coun­try is closely watched th­ese days for the events in Tashkent and ex­pressed hope that the con­fer­ence will give a pow­er­ful im­pe­tus to achiev­ing the well-be­ing of his home­land.

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