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English Translation of Statement by His Excellency Hamid Karzai President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan At the Conference of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) 28 August 2008- Dushanbe, Tajikistan

Your Excellency Mr. Chairman,

Excellencies Heads of State and Government,

Distinguished Delegates,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am honored to be once again the guest of the SCO Heads of State Summit and am pleased to be in the beautiful and historical city of Dushanbe. May I express my gratitude for the very warm hospitality extended to us by my bother, His Excellency President Emomali Rakhmon and our kind and friendly Tajik neighbors . Allow me to congratulate you on the successful organization of the SCO Summit. Availing the opportunity, I also congratulate His Excellency President Hu Jintao and the people of China for the very successful and spectacular organization of the Olympic games.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Our region and indeed the entire world are faced with various challenges. Undoubtedly, meeting these challenges will not be possible without concerted cooperation and collaboration among the countries of the region and beyond. Problems such as conflict, social and environmental problems call for joint solutions. We will overcome these problems if we combine the resolve of our peoples and our policy-makers and if we establish the foundation of our collaborative efforts on the basis of our common interests and principles of equality. I am pleased that today we have come together with a better recognition of regional and global challenges and are determined to harness our efforts towards improving the lives of our peoples.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

After the cold war, Afghanistan had sadly turned into a haven of international terrorism and a theater for destructive activities of foreign interfering institutions, while our people rightfully desired to live in peace after all the sacrifices they had given.

Seven years ago Afghanistan posed a serious threat to regional and global stability and security; as the Taliban ruled the country ruthlessly and turned it into a sanctuary for the Al-Qaeda terrorist network. Terrorism damaged the social fabric of Afghanistan and left us with a shattered economy and dismantled infrastructures.

Subsequent to the 9/11 terrorist attack, the world came to realize the gravity of the threat posed by international terrorism. An international consensus, with the participation of SCO member countries, came into being to collectively fight this menace. The determination of the Afghan people and the unprecedented international unity against terrorism resulted in a rapid collapse of the Taliban regime and the flight of terrorist groups out of Afghanistan. This international fight against terrorism is still ongoing. Today seven years after we started our common struggle; the world, our region and particularly Afghanistan still suffer as a result of terrorist attacks.

Mr. Chairman,

Today, despite all the difficulties and the continuance of terrorism, Afghanistan has the fastest economic growth rate in Asia, while consolidating its democratic gains. Afghanistan has one of the most favorable environments for economic activity and expansion of trade and transit with the countries of the region. We desire to make the most of our favorable geo-political location for the interest of peace and prosperity in the region and to serve as a bridge connecting South, East and Central Asia. We believe this will provide a great opportunity for us and our neighbors to expand investment and trade in Afghanistan and between countries of the wider region through Afghanistan. We are pleased that our goal of strengthening economic, cultural and political cooperation is fully consistent with the objectives of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Afghanistan’s membership of two regional cooperation organizations, namely SAARC and ECO is a good opportunity, enabling us to realize our goal of enhancing regional cooperation. Our presence in SCO Contact Group is also based on our policy of strengthening regional cooperation.

We must recognize the opportunities and benefits of regional cooperation in the wider region and pay serious attention to transferring energy from Central to South and South East Asia, extending railroad networks, land routes and connecting the landlocked countries of Central Asia to the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf.

Excellencies!

Today, the food crisis is posing a serious threat to many countries including Afghanistan. High food prices are putting reforms, growth strategies, and most importantly, lives at risk. We must integrate our resources and harness our potentials to overcome this crisis collectively. Providing transit facilities, decreasing tariffs and taxes are some of the possible ways to mitigate these shocks. May I take this opportunity to thank all those countries who have assisted us to mitigate the grave problem of food shortage in Afghanistan.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We recognize that the threats we face are also threatening the lives and security of your people. We call for the strengthening of the international unity to realize the comprehensive strategy of war against terrorism. This strategy will not be successful unless the international community acts seriously to destroy the political and military sources of terrorism and the entities which produce and nurture terrorists. Terrorism is responsible for the death of thousands of innocent civilians, burning and destruction of schools, clinics and hospitals both in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The international network of terrorism is increasingly exporting terrorists and/or planning to do so to our neighbors and all the member countries of SCO.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The problem of narcotics is another serious challenge facing our region and the entire world. Afghanistan is committed to vigorously counter the cultivation, production, trafficking of drugs. Fortunately we have managed to decrease the cultivation to a great extent. Today 18 provinces of Afghanistan are poppy-free, while cultivation has reduced in some of our other provinces. The problem does exist in those provinces bordering with Pakistan and which are at the center of terrorist activities. We believe that a successful counter-narcotics effort is dependent on a global consensus that will help organize the collective actions and cooperation of the regional countries and the international community to fight this menace. We are pleased to see that the fight against cultivation and trafficking of narcotics is included in the objectives of Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

The presence of international community in our country to continue the war on terror, strengthen state institutions and to rebuild our economic infrastructures is essential. Such presence is in the interest of our country and the region, as terrorism continues to threaten the stability and security of our region and particularly of Afghanistan.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The path we Afghans have chosen is the path towards peace, cooperation and progress in the region. We believe that peace and prosperity in the region will only be attained by sincere partnerships under the framework of international laws. Afghanistan will remain committed to regional organizations and to an enhanced and significant role for the United Nations in eradicating poverty, fighting organized crime and terrorism and peace-keeping.

Today, Afghanistan as an indivisible part of this region and as an active member of international community, wishes to extend its hands of friendship and peaceful co-existence to all the countries, particularly to our neighbors and Member States of SCO. We are grateful that our message of friendship has met with your positive response in the last seven years. May I take this opportunity to thank our neighbors, countries of the region, and all those countries who have supported us in our efforts to build a secure, stable and prosperous Afghanistan. I am confident that the continuation of your support will be beneficial in creating a safer world and will contribute to long-term peace and prosperity in the region.

May I once again thank my brother, His Excellency President Emomali Rakhmon and the people of Tajikistan for the very warm welcome and hospitality.

Thank you !



 

 
     
   
 
 
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