Uzbekistan will organize an international high-level conference on Afghanistan March 26-27 in capital Tashkent. Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani will deliver keynote speeches at the opening ceremony.
The conference in Tashkent follows the second meeting of the Kabul Process that took place on February 28 this year in Kabul.
The theme of the conference, “Peace Process, Security Cooperation and Regional Connectivity”, is an important part of the Uzbek leadership’s overall strategy to provide for regional security and stability.
Uzbekistan has been an active party to almost all international forums addressing the Afghan crisis, including the Kabul Process, the Moscow Format, the Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process, the International Contact Group on Afghanistan, the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group, the Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA). During a UN Security Council session in New York on January 19, 2018, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan delivered a joint presentation of the forthcoming Tashkent forum.
Among those invited to the Tashkent meeting are the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and Special Representative of the Organization for Afghanistan Tadamichi Yamamoto, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, as well as foreign ministers of China, Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Turkey, India, Iran, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
It is expected that the forum participants will convey their consolidated stance – at the regional and global levels – on the need for the soonest start of direct talks between the Government of Afghanistan and the Taliban Movement without any preconditions.
The conference is projected to result in the adoption of Tashkent Declaration anticipated to reflect the following key points:
First, the peace process ought to be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned and in accordance with the provisions of resolutions and decisions of the UN General Assembly and Security Council;
Second, the guaranteed integration of the armed opposition into the political life of Afghanistan and its recognition as a legitimate political force is instrumental in the success of the peace process;
Third, the international community strongly opposes all forms and manifestations of terrorism without any distinction, and recognizes that the threats of transnational terrorism, drug trafficking and organized crime are common challenges to stability and sustainable development both for Afghanistan, the region and the world as a whole.
The Tashkent Conference is to follow the first meeting of the new format of cooperation, Central Asia + Afghanistan (C5 + 1), designed to discuss specific areas of interaction between the Central Asian nations and Afghanistan. The activity of this format will contribute to Afghanistan’s successful integration into the system of trade, economic and infrastructural relations with the states of Central Asia, the effective implementation of projects and programs of regional scale.
As Mirziyoyev has stressed, "peaceful, economically prosperous Central Asia is our most critical goal and key task.
"And it is impossible to achieve those objectives without addressing one of the most pressing regional and global issues, namely, the conflict in the neighboring Afghanistan, which historically and geopolitically is an integral part of our common region."
Speaking at the international conference in Samarkand, President Mirziyoyev, a peaceful Afghanistan is able to ensure the shortest possible access for the nations of Central Asia to the harbors of the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf, to connect India, Iran and Pakistan with the markets of Europe and the Middle East.
He said: We express hope that the outcomes of the international meeting in Uzbekistan’s capital city will come to be a vital milestone in the stabilization of Afghanistan, in the delivery of prerequisites for its sustainable development, enhancement of the Afghan people’s welfare and the latter’s engagement in the constructive processes in the region and the world in general. The success of the Tashkent forum should demonstrate the ability of the region’s states to resolve common grave issues through joint efforts by opening up extensive opportunities for peace and progress."