The social and economic rehabilitation of Afghanistan is an essential guarantee of regional and international security and stability, Kazakhstan’s Foreign Minister Yerzhan Kazykhanov told participants of the Istanbul conference on Afghanistan in Istanbul as he pledged Astana’s continued support for more robust international efforts to assist that country return to the peaceful life.
The conference on November 2 brought together presidents of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey, as well as foreign ministers of 24 countries, nine regional and international organizations. The conference participants discussed the efforts to promote stability in Afghanistan and involve Afghanistan in regional, economic and political cooperation.
In an interview with Tengrinews English ahead of the conference, Yerzhan Kazykhanov said: “Here in Kazakhstan we clearly understand that period between now and 2014 is crucial for the countries of the region because the coalition forces will be leaving Afghanistan. But I think it should in no way mean that the international community is leaving Afghanistan,”
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At the conference, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu pointed out that by assisting Afghanistan the countries mean a joint effort in restoring healthcare in Afghanistan and fighting against drug trafficking, Islamic radicalism and terrorism. “The failure of the international community in Afghanistan will have significant consequences for the entire world”, the Turkish foreign minister said.
In his remarks, Yerzhan Kazykhanov noted that during its Chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Kazakhstan has been pushing for the Organization to play a greater role in addressing the Afghan problem.
“We continue to do so as the Chair of the OSCE Contact Group of Asian Partners for Cooperation. Afghanistan is also a top priority of our Chairmanship in the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) since June this year”, the Kazakh Minister said.
Underlining the importance of this forum in stabilizing the situation in Afghanistan, Kazykhanov defined the promotion of internal reconciliation and the creation of conditions for the country’s peaceful and effective development in the context of regional cooperation as the next mid-term tasks in Afghanistan.
Among the main challenges of regional development the Kazakh foreign minister highlighted combating illicit drug production and drug trafficking. Supporting the activities of the Almaty-based Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Centre for combating illicit trafficking of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors, Kazakhstan attaches great importance to effective joint efforts in combating transnational drug trafficking, Kazykhanov said.
Kazykhanov also noted Kazakhstan’s role in international efforts to rebuild Afghanistan, in particular, the technical and humanitarian assistance, training of personnel and provision of negotiation platforms.
“Afghanistan’s socio-economic rehabilitation is an essential guarantee of regional and international security and stability,” the Kazakh Foreign Minister emphasized.
Since 2010, every year up to 200 Afghan students come to study in Kazakhstan. A total of 1,000 Afghan students will get education as doctors and teachers at Kazakh universities under a special 50 million dollar programme that runs from 2010 to 2018.
Kazakhstan has been and will continue providing humanitari an assistance to Afghanistan, supplying grain, flour, rice and other goods. In 2008, Kazakhstan sent Afghanistan 2,000 tons of wheat, in 2009 – 1,300 tonnes of dry milk, in 2010 – 6,000 tonnes of rice and in April 2011 - 5,000 tonnes of rice flour.
Kazakhstan supports the New Silk Road initiative on creating infrastructure such as roads and rail lines to link Afghanistan with its neighbours also by building Kazakhstan’s portion of an international highway corridor that will connect Western China with Western Europe through Russia.
Speaking of a strong commitment of the international community to building a stable and prosperous Afghanistan, Kazykhanov announced that on the eve of the Bonn Conference Kazakhstan is to hold a regular meeting of the International Contact Group on Afghanistan on November 15.
“Trust and unity among all nations are the basis of a new just world order”, Kazykhanov quoted President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev as saying.
Upon the closure of the conference the participants, including Kazakhstan, signed an Istanbul strategic protocol on ensuring the security of Afghanistan in the upcoming years. The document particularly stipulates the necessity to preserve the sovereignty of the Afghan state and its territorial integrity, and promote its economic development and peaceful settlement.
On the sidelines of the Istanbul conference the Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan held bilateral meetings with his counterparts from Afghanistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Germany as well as with U.S Deputy Secretary of State, Secretary Generals of the OIC and the OSCE. At the meetings prospects of bilateral cooperation and current international issues of Kazakhstan’s chairing the OIC and the OSCE Forum for Security Cooperation, and measures taken by the international community to advance the peace process in Afghanistan were discussed.