UN envoy Yamamoto at Tashkent Conference on Afghanistan
TASHKENT - The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto, today made a statement to participatnts at the Tashkent Conference on Afghanistan, focusing on peace, security cooperation and regional connectivity.
Statement to the Tashkent Conference on Afghanistan by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Mr. Tadamichi Yamamoto
Tashkent, 27 March 2018
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Minister Rabbani, Ministers, and Distinguished Guests,
I would like to thank President Mirziyoyev for his initiative in organizing this conference on peace, security and regional connectivity. It is one of the many constructive and imaginative initiatives which Uzbekistan has put into motion in the short time since you have become President. The world has noticed how these initiatives are transforming the region in a positive way, and their effects have already been felt in Afghanistan.
I welcome this conference, which gives appropriate prominence to Afghanistan’s neighbours and partners, as well as countries who have also supported the post-2001 political order and reconstruction effort. In particular, the five countries of Central Asia and Afghanistan are tied by shared history, culture and geography. They have an enormous potential for jointly tackling regional threats, increasing trade and connectivity. Joint counter-terrorism and counter-radicalization efforts, economic cooperation, disaster risk management and people-to-people contacts – all can not only help Afghanistan in its efforts for self-reliance and growth, but also further increase political influence of Central Asia through building trust and confidence in the region.
We meet here today, when the dominant discussion about Afghanistan is how to achieve a lasting peace which will form the basis of the stability and prosperity we all desire for that country and this region.
How did it come about that we are focused more than ever on peace? The answer is simple: President Ghani’s courageous invitation to the Taliban to enter into negotiations on the future of Afghanistan without preconditions, and to be held anywhere. And while it was the President who made the offer at the second Kabul process conference on behalf of the Government, he made the offer after consultations with the representatives from a cross section of Afghan society.
Therefore, the second meeting of the Kabul process last month has created a new reality and a new hope. Our meeting today must build on that hope, add substance to it, and carry forward the momentum of the second Kabul process conference. We must look forward to the third Kabul process meeting where we hope to be able to report on the progress of holding talks between the Taliban and the Afghan Government.
Let us acknowledge that much courage which must have been required on the part of President Ghani and the Government of Afghanistan to extend the hand of peace, especially so soon after the horrendous attacks in Kabul, particularly the attack of 27 January in which hundreds were killed or wounded after an ambulance was used to conceal and transport explosives. This is a violation of norms of conflict which have existed since as far back as the 19th century. But despite this, the Afghan Government did extend its hand of peace and the difficulty involved in doing so makes it all the more commendable.
And we urge the Taliban to muster their courage, and respond positively to this offer. They indicated publicly, in their statement, their preference to settle the conflict through negotiations. They should be reminded that the negotiations they are seeking must be through the door of talks with the Afghan Government. Peace process must be through intra-Afghan process.
We sincerely hope that as we seek for the opportunities for talks to mature, the Taliban will refrain from violence and avoid unnecessary loss of life. It is vital that the Government remains resolute in its commitment to peace.
There is still much to be done. First, we must continue to build on the regional consensus for peace. This means two things. It means that those countries who have contacts with the Taliban should use those contacts to urge them to accept the Afghan Government’s peace offer. It also means that the countries of the region should acknowledge the Afghan-owned nature of the peace process and commit to accepting the agreement reached between the Taliban and the Government.
Second, we must continue to work with the Afghan Government to consolidate its internal strength.
Afghanistan must also have successful elections, both parliamentary and presidential, to demonstrate the strength of the democratic political process taking roots in that country. This electoral process would also extend to the Taliban’s participation in the future, should they choose peace.
We must continue to support unity within the Afghan Government, and among all political actors in the non-violent opposition, for the sake of reform and for the sake of peace.
The agenda for peace in Afghanistan has never been as clear as it is now. I thank President Ghani and his Government for providing that clarity. I thank President Mirziyoyev for recognizing the need to build on that clarity and organizing this conference. Let us leave Tashkent as an international and regional community more united than ever before on the question of Afghanistan, and determined to seize the opportunity that was created by the Kabul Process meeting.
Thank you very much.
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Read the Declaration signed by the participants of the Tashkent Conference.