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NEWS AND EVENTS
May 2, 2008
International Cooperation - An Important Factor in Ensuring Security and Sustainable Development
On April 29-30 this year Tashkent hosted the International Conference on security and sustainable development in Central Asia “Peace and stability in Afghanistan: ways and methods of achieving them”.

The Regional Policy Foundation and the Center for Policy Studies (Uzbekistan), along with the OSCE Projects Coordinator in Uzbekistan, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Institute for New Democracies (USA) organized the event. Over 40 political scientists and security experts from 20 countries in Asia, America and Europe attended the conference.

The forum participants extensively discussed the issues of security and sustainable development in the region and were unanimous in their conclusions: today the situation in Afghanistan whose people for almost 30 years have not seen a peaceful life remains a main factor that affects the security and sustainable development in the Central Asian region, as much as the global security. At the same time, the experts made another important conclusion: the military methods to resolve the Afghan problem have exhausted themselves. Focusing only on the military solution of the Afghan issue is counterproductive and may lead to a further confrontation in the country. Besides, the conflict may spread into neighboring countries.

The only way to resolve the Afghan crisis is to search for optimal peaceful solution of the problems to achieve security and stability in Afghanistan.

In this respect, the participants of the conference drew a special attention towards the initiatives of President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov to achieve peace and stability in Afghanistan put forward at the NATO/EAPC Summit in Bucharest (Romania) on April 3, 2008. The proposals of the Uzbek Leader on the real ways to normalize the situation in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan were actively supported in the world community.

“The Bucharest initiatives of the President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov are a globally significant contribution to resolving the problem of security in the region,” - Professor Vitaly Naumkin, the President of the Center for Strategic and Political Studies of Russia, said. “In fact, the leader of Uzbekistan offered a new model of open cooperation which will ensure security in Central Asia.”

Speaking about that Uzbekistan proposed clear and well-thought ways of peaceful solution of the problems of Afghanistan, the expert of the Caucasus Research Center Paramjit Sahay of India has said: “Indeed, the use of force has not proved helpful in addressing the Afghan conflict, and all opportunities have been exhausted in this regard. The situation in Afghanistan can only be resolved through broad cooperation and political consent. It is necessary, firstly, to draw attention to social sectors such as education, health and projects for economic rehabilitation of Afghanistan. From this perspective, the initiatives of President Islam Karimov put forward in Bucharest are extremely important”. “Initiatives of Uzbekistan are extremely important. Those timely proposals will help find an effective way of stabilizing Afghanistan,” - President of the Regional Studies Institute of Pakistan, General Jamsheed Ayaz Khan said. “As a military person I can say that all possibilities for reaching peace in Afghanistan by way of applying the military force have been exhausted. Stability in Afghanistan will lead to the development of multilateral relations and serve as an important factor for stable development of Central Asia. This, in its turn, will help implementing major projects in energy and transport links between the countries of Central Asia and our ports, oil and gas pipelines, as well as increase the number of export and import operations”.

Speaking at the conference an expert of the Center for Conflict and Peace Studies of Afghanistan Najeeb ur Rahman Manalay emphasized that his country could not reach peace by military means. In his opinion, the key to address the stabilization problem is in rendering the social and economic assistance to the Afghan people. If people have the sense of creativity they will start working, earning and being responsible for restoring peace and prosperity in their country. These are the solutions of the Afghan crisis that the initiatives of Uzbekistan are aimed at.

The experts showed full support for the proposals by President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov to transform the Group “6+2” which functioned until 2001 into the Contact Group “6+3” to achieve peace and stability in Afghanistan.

According to analysts, the contact group which should include the six countries neighboring on Afghanistan – Iran, China, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, as well as Russia, the U.S. and NATO – can become an important mechanism in elaborating common principles of settling the Afghan problem. The interaction of states in the framework of such group would promote shaping the common approaches towards ensuring security and restoring peace in Afghanistan, and will consolidate the keen interest of outside forces to join their resources for the soonest achievement of peace and accord in the country. Working under the UN auspices as an advisory body to this high-profile Organization, the Contact Group “6+3” could make a significant contribution to supporting the efforts of international community aimed at economic revival of Afghanistan, as well as organization of talks between the Afghan forces to locate the mutually acceptable solutions of settling the Afghan crisis. The Group’s main task could be developing proposals to expand economic and humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan in the framework of various international projects, and firstly, the UN programs.

Expert of the Royal Institute of International Relations, Professor of the School of Eastern and African Studies of the University of London Shirin Akiner said she was convinced about the importance of the Tashkent conference on regional security problems and settlement of the Afghan crisis.

Shirin Akiner has said that the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan is respected in the West for his independent views and sovereign opinion as well as for the fact that he has done much for the region’s security.

According Shirin Akiner, most of the countries of Europe consider unacceptable the ways chosen by Americans to resolve the Afghan problem. There is a view in Europe on the need to shape its own policy on Afghanistan. In this respect, Uzbekistan’s proposals, including those on attracting the countries in the region to participate in restoring Afghanistan drew a serious attention of European experts and politicians.

Deputy Director of the Center of Justice and Rule of Law at the University of East Kentucky in the United States Cynthia Collins Shane believes that the resumption of the negotiating process within the Contact Group “6+3” will be an important factor in advancing new ideas and unanimous approaches towards resolution of the Afghan problem. This will allow the interested states to make coordinated and timely decisions.

The conference participants paid a profound attention to discussing the particular part of Uzbekistan’s proposals which stipulates on the priority of addressing the acute social and economic issues, problems of people’s employment, as well as consolidation of political system of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

The Deputy Director of the Russia and Central Asia Division of the Shanghai Institute of International Relations Nin Qiang has said that it was “logical and justified” that President Islam Karimov’s speech highlighted the social and economic development as a main factor of ensuring security in Afghanistan and entire region. Director of the Institute of Eastern European and CIS countries in Israel Alexander Zinker believes that “all proposals of the Uzbek Leader are well thought-out and accurate both in their essence and the possibility of implementation. Indeed, it is necessary, first of all, to restore the social and economic sphere, build schools, hospitals and employ the people. One should once and forever resolve the problem with Afghan borders which are now freely crossed by both drug traffickers and terrorists”.

As a key condition for stabilizing the situation in Afghanistan the experts noted the need to support the national and cultural values as well as customs of the Afghan people, respect the interests of national minorities, not to allow the insults on people’s religious feelings, slander and lies on Islam.

The Afghan experts are convinced that the “Uzbek Leader’s appeal to respect traditions, customs and religion of the Afghan people is aimed at their spiritual development. So far, nobody has paid attention to those issues, although the Afghan people have a rich history and their place in the world civilization”.

According to independent expert Francis Tibor Miko of the United States, the initiative of President of Uzbekistan will serve as a peculiar “bridge” to extend international cooperation aimed at addressing the existing problems in terms of providing for stability in Afghanistan”.

The expert of the Institute for International Studies in the UK Christopher Roland Langton has underscored that the proposals of Islam Karimov “are based on understanding of the real state of affairs in Afghanistan”. In particular, he is convinced that without strengthening the vertical of power in Afghanistan stabilization of situation deems to be impossible. “The power which would be trusted by people should be established but it must be accomplished taking into account the local peculiarities”.

Speaking about the timeliness of proposal to establish the “6+3” Contact Group he has said that “to realize that initiative the concrete steps should be taken in the nearest six months, and particularly, to hold a meeting of representatives of relevant states”. The expert believes, “it is also necessary in a shortest period of time to elaborate the mechanisms of implementation of this proposal. For example, the permanent Secretariat should be established in Tashkent”.

Zaidulla Zaid of the UN and International Conferences Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran has also spoken about the importance of the role played by neighboring states in providing for peace and stability in Afghanistan. He said that the countries in the region understand the culture, mentality and way of life of the Afghan people much better than the states in the West.

The expert has also said that the transit corridor proposed for use by Uzbekistan to transport the non-military cargoes to Islamic Republic of Afghanistan “has made Afghanistan and its people glad, and certainly, it would promote further development of this country”.

President of the Regional Studies Institute of Pakistan J. Khan believes that the situation in Afghanistan worsens due to inefficient work of state apparatus and country’s security services. According to him, one needs to elaborate mid- and long-term development strategy which would combine the military-political and social-economic aspects. At the same time, such strategy must also consider the interests of neighboring states.

Deputy Director of the Russia Institute at the Chinese Academy of Modern International Relations Chen Zejuen has agreed on the notion that the future of Central Asia’s regional security depended on the solution of the Afghan problem. At the same time, he believed that the initiatives put forward by Uzbekistan at the NATO/EAPC Summit in Bucharest were one of the practical methods of addressing the Afghan crisis. It is not ruled out that the interests of the “6+3” Contact Group participating countries would not always coincide but the proposed mechanism creates conditions for a constructive dialog on addressing Afghanistan’s problems.

Sharing her view on the situation in Afghanistan, the Director of the “India-Central Asia” Foundation Nirmala Joshi has underscored that India supported the efforts aimed at collective solution of the Afghan problem. Uzbekistan’s initiative deserves a special attention since it invites all sides to agree on the negotiations and find the acceptable way of addressing the situation in Afghanistan. She was convinced of the fact that without participation of Afghanistan’s neighboring countries all efforts aimed at stabilizing the situation in that country “were deemed to fail”. “For over the six years it wasn’t possible to establish peace in Afghanistan by military means, therefore, the strategy should immediately be altered and new approach should be worked out given profound attention to be paid to economic and social aspects. From that point of view, Uzbekistan’s proposals are practical and optimal way of resolving the Afghan problems,” – Ms. Joshi has said. Roger McDermott of the Policy and International Relations Department at the Kent University in the United Kingdom said that “Uzbekistan may become a country which will play an important role in restoring peace in Afghanistan”.

Researcher at the Bonn Conversion International Center in Germany Andreas Hainemann Gruder believes that Uzbekistan is a key country in the region that makes for its priority place in Germany’s foreign policy. Germany’s interest in Uzbekistan is mostly related to its strategic importance which occupies an advantageous geographic position, and it borders on Afghanistan.

According to German expert, without solidarity and accord inside NATO and EU not only one cannot resolve Afghanistan’s problem but rather it may be worsened. In this respect, he believed that Uzbekistan has chosen a right approach to resolving the Afghan problem. Though the talks on Afghanistan as a part of the Contact Group may result in differences and difficulties but the negotiations themselves are the path towards finding the optimal ways to settle the crisis in Afghanistan.

According to the President of Oriental Studies Foundation of Russia S.Luzyanin, the initiatives of President of the Republic of Uzbekistan are “extremely important and prospective proposals which might render an additional dynamics and efficiency to resolving the Afghan problem”. The transformation of the Group “6+2” into “6+3” proposed by Uzbekistan given the compulsory participation of NATO in the talks is “logical and explainable since there are NATO’s armed forces operating in Afghanistan”. “President of Uzbekistan has fairly said that only participation of all interested parties in stabilization of situation in Afghanistan makes possible the elaboration of a comprehensive plan to restore that country”.

Moreover, the “Uzbek initiative “6+3” allows for establishing the new cooperation of the U.S. and Iran, as well as coordinating Washington’s and Moscow’s Central Asian policies based on the common strategic interests on Afghan problem, including in terms of countering the religious extremism and terrorism, proliferation of nuclear weapons in South Asia and drug trafficking.

NATO Coordinator on Central Asia J.Jeter thanked Uzbekistan for its decision to provide for the transit corridor to Afghanistan. At the same time, she spoke of the successful development of dialogue of NATO with Central Asian countries. As for the already established coordination between NATO and UN on Afghanistan she has reminded the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his Special Envoy to Afghanistan K.Eide were invited to NATO Summit in Bucharest to discuss the Afghan issue.


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