Thank you madam moderator,
Secretary-General of SCO H.E. Rashid Alimov,
Ladies and gentlemen
We thank the Permanent Mission of Kazakhstan and the Secretariat of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization for organizing today’s High-level Segment. It is a timely initiative, signifying the United Nations’ increased cooperation with the SCO. Let me extend my congratulations on the 15th anniversary of SCO establishment.
Over recent years, the role of the SCO has gained prominence in fighting terrorism and extremism; the production and trafficking of narcotic drugs and other forms of criminality and organized crime. We value its contribution to the international community’s ongoing effort to combat some of the dominant challenges of our time.
Afghanistan became an observer member of the SCO in 2012, and we subsequently presented our request for full member status in 2015. We look forward to attaining full-member status in the SCO in the very near future, as a means to deepen Afghanistan-SCO cooperation in various fields.
Afghanistan is a country that has been a primary victim of the very threats and challenges that led to the formation of the SCO fifteen years ago. Our people have stood in the forefront of the fight against terror and extremism long before the international community’s engagement in Afghanistan. Over the past several years, a number of international and regional initiatives have taken shape in support of our stabilization efforts.
Thanks to support of various regional and international partners, we have witnessed substantial progress in the security, political and economic domains. The National Unity Government of Afghanistan is making every effort to consolidate these gains and to enable our people to secure a peaceful, stable and Self-Reliant future. In that effort, we are keen on expanding and broadening cooperation with the SCO and other regional forums in various spheres, including in the area of security cooperation. We already have a MOU on counter-terrorism with SCO and we are active with SCO’s Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure.
We know that peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region will not be realized in the absence of an effective regional strategy to address joint threats and challenges. Such an approach must entail and “serious and result-oriented effort” conducted in “good-faith” by relevant countries to address common threats in a holistic manner, with due focus and attention to the root sources of the problems.
Terrorism and narcotic drugs are dangerous threats that are inextricably linked to one another. Extremists groups such as the Taliban; Haqqani network, Al-Qaeda, Daesh and other similar groups, exported to Afghanistan from outside in an orchestrated manner, are using the proceeds of the drug industry to finance their deadly attacks against our people. That said, the provinces with highest levels of violence and insecurity are those in which drug production also remains high.
We believe that a viable solution to the drug problem can only be reached, on the basis of principle of “common and shared responsibility,” with equal focus on production, trafficking and consumption. We will continue to work closely with the SCO, UNODC and other stakeholders to come up with more effective strategies to overcome the problem of narcotic drugs.
We also believe that achieving Goal 16 of the SDGs and a successful fight against the perils of terrorism, militancy and violent extremism requires a refined approach that will take into account the main sources of these problems. They cannot simply be wished away. Ensuring their defeat in our region and beyond warrants necessary focus on ending the financial, moral and material support enjoyed by terrorists. Moreover, safe-havens and sanctuaries in the region where terrorists are sheltered, aided and abetted must also be addressed. It is time to ask what motivates elements within certain state structures in our region to use violence and proxies in pursuit of political objectives.
Outside the security domain, Afghanistan is also keen on seeing a significant increase in trade, investment and economic opportunities among SCO members and observer countries. Over the past two years, we have made notable progress in regaining our historic role as a hub for integration, economic activity and connectivity in our wider region, linking South and Central Asia and the Far East and the Middle East.
Looking ahead, we believe there can only be merit in expanding the scope of cooperation among SCO member and observer countries. Afghanistan will remain focused on advancing regional cooperation, bilaterally and within framework of various regional forums, such as the SCO, knowing that economic cooperation constitutes a main driver of security and stability in our part of the world.
To conclude, I would like to convey our appreciation for the SCO’s continued commitment and support for Afghanistan’s security and stability. Looking ahead, we will continue to work towards deepening our collaboration in related fields for the benefit of a more secure and stable region. In the same light, we also welcome the SCO’s increased interaction and engagement with various international organizations, such as the United Nations!