29 November, 2018

Remarks by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Roman Vassilenko at the International Conference on Afghanistan

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28 November 2018, Geneva

Dear Co-Chairs!

Dear Heads of Delegations and Participants of the Conference!

First of all, I would like to welcome all the participants.

Kazakhstan, like all countries in the region, is interested in the stable, economically sustainable and secure Afghanistan.

The tense military-political situation in Afghanistan, the threat of terrorism and extremism, and drug trafficking affects Central Asia, since we have common borders, culture, history, the presence of diasporas, as well as active cross-border trade relations.

In this regard, Kazakhstan believes it is necessary to form a regional model based on peace, security and cooperation between the states of Central Asia and Afghanistan. And that's exactly the approach Kazakhstan is applying during our membership in the UN Security Council.

One of the main priorities of Kazakhstan's work in the UN Security Council over the past two years has been providing comprehensive assistance to Afghanistan in economic and social development, in countering threats to peace and security. In particular, Kazakhstan, during our presidency of the UN Security Council last January, initiated a ministerial-level debate on building a regional partnership in Afghanistan and Central Asia as a model of development and security interdependence, which resulted in a unanimously approved presidential statement.

Empowering women in Afghanistan is another factor in achieving long-term peace and sustainable development in Afghanistan.

In this regard, Kazakhstan, in cooperation with Japan and UNDP, has held seminars for Afghan women over the past two years. This year the seminar was held in Astana, with the participation of approximately 30 Afghan women.

In September in Astana, we organized a Regional Conference on “Empowering Women in Afghanistan", which focused on sustainable economic growth in that country by enabling capabilities of Afghan women, including in business, through regional cooperation, with emphasis on the role of education and knowledge. As for the results, the EU, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are set to launch next year a joint project to educate Afghan women in Kazakh and Uzbek universities, building on the success of Kazakhstan's own 50-million-dollar program to educate 1,000 Afghans in our country.

We believe long-term stability and prosperity in our region, as in any other region, should be guided by an integrated three-sided strategy, based on the following pillars.

The first is the recognition and strengthening of the security-development nexus. It means investment in trade, transit routes, transport and infrastructure development should be seen as stabilization assets. In this regard, we are confident the projects endorsed by Central Asian countries with Afghanistan – such as the TAPI pipeline, the CASA Electricity Transmission and Trade Project, and other planned railways and roads, could lead to economic growth and prosperity, enhance regional security, connectivity and stability in Central Asia and Afghanistan.

The second pillar is revamped regional approach. Regional cooperation is imperative given that threats affect all countries in the region.

The third pillar is a 'whole-of-system' approach by the United Nations in headquarters and on the ground. Streamlined operations under the UN are important in light of the diminishing development aid. We reiterate the importance of enhancing the efficiency, transparency and accountability of the work of the UN in Afghanistan and Central Asia, including through enhanced coordination.

We also call on donors to increase their contribution to peace and development in and around Afghanistan. Kazakhstan is working to create a UN-led Regional Hub in Almaty to help deliver coordinated support for the countries of the region in reaching SDGs.

In this regard, we call on the UN and its country offices to participate in this regional development strategy for the benefit of Afghanistan and the region.

It is also necessary to involve the countries of the region in the development of trade, economy, transit and transport and humanitarian ties with Afghanistan by providing them with appropriate subsidies. It is crucial to implement the development programs by expanding trade, strengthening economic integration and increasing interaction, including by establishing the UN Regional Hub in Almaty.

In conclusion, Kazakhstan supports resolving the issues of Afghanistan on the basis of mutual benefit and is ready to continue working with regional and international partners to strengthen stability in the region.

Thank you for your attention!

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