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Statement by the Foreign Minister during the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia


STATEMENT
by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan Sirodjidin Aslov,
during the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia/Istanbul Process
Islamabad, Pakistan, 9 December 2015

Your Excellency, Mr. Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan,

Your Excellency, Mr. Ashraf Ghani, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan,

Dear brother Sartaj Aziz, National Security and Foreign Affairs Adviser,

Dear brother Salahuddin Rabbani, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan,

Distinguished colleagues,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to extend my warmest greetings to all participants of the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia/Istanbul Process.

I would like to thank the Government of Pakistan and the Government of Afghanistan for the warm and generous hospitality and excellent organization of this Conference and all other parties involved for the excellent preparation and creation of favorable conditions for our meeting.

Dear friends,

The Republic of Tajikistan shares the policy of the Afghan leadership towards the country's progress on the path of peace, stability, prosperity and wider cooperation with regional neighbors.

I would like to emphasize that a key to successful implementation of any program and project is peace and stability in Afghanistan. Today we can observe that after the withdrawal of International Coalition Forces the country still needs wider support.

Taking this opportunity, I call upon our international partners to increase their involvement and enhance their cooperation with the Government of Afghanistan on overcoming the existing obstacles on way of sustainable development of the country.

We value the efforts made by the Afghan Government in this direction and we fully support peace process in this friendly country. Tajikistan always stands ready to continue political dialogue on solution of many challenges the country is facing.

We are confident that the brotherly people of Afghanistan, supported by the international community, will successfully cope with these challenges. At this very crucial juncture, the United Nations should play a coordinating role in the international effort for Afghanistan.

In our view, the strengthening of lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan requires a real assistance in tackling economic and social problems.

This in turn supports efforts to restore effective state institutions and creates a solid ground for a long-term development. It is likewise necessary to involve the country into a regional multilateral framework to address security issues and facilitate an implementation of major infrastructural projects.

Dear friends,

Today’s meeting, should be complemented and supported by concrete projects of mutual benefit aimed at social, trade, economic, transport and communication development of the country.

The implementation of projects considered in the Fourth Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia/Istanbul Process and Experts Meetings Group serves as the basis for sustainable development and long-term economic cooperation with Afghanistan, which is the key element in the process of achieving comprehensive sustainable peace and development of integration processes in the region.

Socio-economic development in Afghanistan cannot be achieved if there is no reliable security. Technical and financial assistance to the Government of Afghanistan in fight against transnational organized crime would be essential.

Bilateral and multilateral relations with relevant authorities of Afghanistan have to be further developed within the context of regional and global security programs.

Implementation of vital security projects, training and development of professional skills for security forces in Afghanistan, as well as enhancement of cross-border security cooperation are key elements on the way to sustainable peace and development.

Less developed infrastructure of Afghanistan, first of all in transport and energy sectors, is the main barrier to achieve sustainable economic growth.

It is necessary to focus on elaboration of specific economic projects. We are confident that the existing obstacles in infrastructural development could be tackled through engineering solutions, for example construction of railways, high voltage power transmission lines, pipelines, trade facilitation, cross-border trade, and etc. Implementation of these measures can open up new possibilities for effective integration with existing regional networks.

Development of the regional transport infrastructure and building transport corridors to Pakistan, Iran and Turkmenistan through Afghanistan is of paramount importance.

We do strongly believe that these networks may be able to serve as a traffic artery of the region, along with stimulating significant increase in trade turnover between neighboring countries and substantially contributing to the budget of Afghanistan.

Tajikistan, as a neighboring country, strongly supports development and implementation of such programs and proposes concrete economic projects in the framework of this Conference.

Tajikistan cooperates with the border guards of Afghanistan, helping to prevent the crossing of national borders by terrorist groups and the trafficking in narcotics.

The OSCE Border Management Staff College operating in Tajikistan at the initiative of our country, trains Afghan national border guard officers and remarkably contributes to national border troops man-power development.

Officers and soldiers of Afghanistan attend various short, medium and long term training course programs in the specialized educational institutions of Tajikistan.

Solution of economic problems in the neighboring country is critical. Given the importance of socio-economic rehabilitation of Afghanistan, the Tajik Government drafted and proposed 17 projects in transport, communications, energy, investment, education, human resources development and border management areas.

To build up human resources capacity of Afghanistan, we hosted more than 500 Afghan students for the training in the universities across Tajikistan. The Government of Tajikistan has decided to provide scholarships to 1,000 Afghan nationals until 2025.

Regional cooperation is essential to strengthen stability in Afghanistan and in entire region. Tajikistan welcomes the involvement of Afghanistan in the regional integration process.

We believe that the Heart of Asia/Istanbul Process would serve as an important platform for productive cooperation in the region.

Being at the crossroads of Eurasia, Afghanistan could gain access to some of the fastest growing markets in the world, as well as serve as a transit hub for the expansion of trade between Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

We welcomed development of China Pakistan Economic Corridor, which will also facilitate connectivity between Pakistan, Afghanistan & Tajikistan and other Central Asian States.

The Quadrilateral Agreement on Traffic in Transit among China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan will also further improve regional connectivity.

Tajikistan, with its unique water and energy resources, expresses its readiness to provide Afghanistan with cheap, renewable and environmentally friendly electricity.

The region is preparing for the implementation of the CASA-1000 project which will provide a supply of electricity from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Dear colleagues,

Today in Pakistan, we, the representatives of all states of the Heart of Asia, and international and regional organizations that are not indifferent to the fate of Afghanistan have been brought together.

I reiterate that Tajikistan along with other countries in the region is interested in peace, stability and the development of Afghanistan.

To achieve our most noble goals we are keen to take consecutive, pragmatic and coordinated steps forward based on constructive dialogue, mutual respect, confidence and equality.

Let me once again to express my sincere gratitude to the organizers of this Conference and to all of you for substantial deliberations and fruitful collaboration.

Thank you!