A statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of
the Republic of Tajikistan Sirodjidin Aslov,
during the Fourth Ministerial Conference of the
Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process
31 October 2014, Beijing, China
Your Excellency, Mr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan,
Your Excellency, Mr. Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China,
Dear colleagues and participants of the meeting,
I would, first of all, like to convey my gratitude to the organizers of this conference and all other parties involved for the excellent preparation and creation of favorable conditions for our meeting.
Afghanistan is currently undergoing a historical process which is leading to the formation of a national reconciliation government.
We hope that at this turning point in the history of the country, the people of Afghanistan will come together as one to perform the tasks needed to ensure the equality of all the peoples of Afghanistan, while respecting the rights and interests of different groups, as well as justice and harmony.
We share the policy of the new Afghan leadership towards the country's progress on the path of peace, stability, prosperity, and wider cooperation with regional neighbors.
We are committed to working with the new government, which will consolidate our strong partnership which has worked for the benefit of Afghanistan’s sovereignty, stability, unity and prosperity.
We are confident that the brotherly people of Afghanistan, supported by the community of nations, will successfully cope with challenges. We maintain that given the current environment, the central coordinational role of the UN in the international effort for Afghanistan is particularly relevant.
In our view, the strengthening of long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan requires a real assistance in solving economic and social problems. This in turn supports efforts to restore effective state institutions and creates a sustainable base for long-term development. Furthermore, the greater involvement of a regional multilateral framework to address issues of strengthening security and stability and the implementation of major infrastructure projects and programs is necessary.
Tajikistan actively cooperates with the border guards of Afghanistan, helping to prevent the crossing of national borders by terrorist groups and the transportation of narcotics.
Cooperation in these areas is carried out not only bilaterally, but also within the framework of the "quartet" - Russia, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan. It is gratifying to note that the Kyrgyz Republic has engaged in this process, forming a "troika" of countries with the participation of Tajikistan and Afghanistan.
Currently, as a result of Tajikistan’s proposal, and with the support of the OSCE, The Border Management Staff College, which trains border officials in Afghanistan, is operating in Tajikistan. It has so far trained a large number of Afghanistan’s border guards.
Tajikistan participates in the human resources capacity development of Afghanistan’s military and law enforcement agencies. Annually, through various short, medium and long term programs, which take place in the specialized educational institutions of Tajikistan and under relevant ministries and agencies, training courses are being conducted for soldiers and officers, as well as for law enforcement services in Afghanistan.
Tajikistan considers the solution of economic problems in our neighboring country as critical point, and has constantly expressed this position. In this context, it should be noted that on the issue of the social and economic reconstruction of Afghanistan, the Tajik side has developed and proposed 17 projects related to transport, communications, energy, investment, education, the strengthening of human resources, investment, border management and other areas.
The development of human resources in Afghanistan and the training of civilian specialists are initiatives also included as priorities within the framework of cooperation between Tajikistan and Afghanistan. Currently, more than 500 students are being trained in the universities of Tajikistan. The Government of Tajikistan has decided to provide a scholarships to approximately 1,000 citizens of Afghanistan up until 2025.
Regional cooperation is an important element in the strengthening of stability in Afghanistan and in the region, as a whole. The development of regional economic cooperation has also been raised on the list of key priorities by the Republic of Tajikistan. In this context, the Republic of Tajikistan welcomes the involvement of Afghanistan in the regional integration process. We believe that the Istanbul Process (Heart of Asia) is an important platform for establishing 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. In this regard, development and socio-economic growth are inconceivable without energy supply.
Tajikistan, with its unique water and energy resources, expresses its readiness to provide Afghanistan with cheap, renewable, clean electricity. Between the two neighboring countries there are number of power lines. The region is preparing for implementation of the CASA-1000 project which will provide a supply of electricity from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to Pakistan, transiting through the territory of Afghanistan.
We have built five road bridges between Tajikistan and Afghanistan across the Panj River. It has contributed to delivering humanitarian assistance to remote regions of Afghanistan and contributed the annual increase in trade between Tajikistan and Afghanistan, as well as expanding transit capacity.
In addition, for the further development of economic activity and trade in the southern, and the eastern parts of Tajikistan near these bridges, two free economic zones were established. There are three promising points of border trade between Tajikistan and Afghanistan.
Today in Beijing, we, the representatives of all the states of the Heart of Asia, as well as international and regional organizations that are not indifferent to the fate of Afghanistan have been brought together. I can reiterate that Tajikistan along with other countries in the region is interested in peace, stability and the development of Afghanistan, which will also contribute to the development of all States of the Heart of Asia.
Thank you for your attention!