Speech of President Ashraf Ghani at the 18th Non-Aligned Movement Summit Baku, Azerbaijan

Speech of President Ashraf Ghani at the 18th Non-Aligned Movement Summit  Baku, Azerbaijan

President Alyov, Excellencies Heads of State and Governments, Leaders of International and regional Organizations, Ladies and Gentlemen:

Disruptive change is the dominant characteristic of global context. Whether it becomes a catalyst of creative transformation or turns into destructive force depends on the quality of leadership and management among us. We must read the context, shape the response, and deliver on the aspiration and needs of our people. Embracing and acting on the basis of cooperative advantage, as enshrined in the Bandung principles, would enable us to strengthen our collective resilience and dealing with destructive change.

Five features of the current global context define the parameters of our strategies and policies. First, major power competition is back, the result determining the politics of the 21st century. Second, the threat posed by the transnational terrorist networks is medium to long-term, requiring a different type of coordination and cooperation among governments. Third, the scale and scope of the criminal economy, particularly the operation of the transnational drug cartels, is a direct to the wellbeing of the youth and welfare of families of all countries of the world. Fourth, the fourth industrial revolution is likely to change the definition of work, wealth and wellbeing on an unprecedented scale. Fifth, environmental change is upon us and we must muster the political well to deal with it. Unfortunately, rules of the game supposedly governing relations between sovereign states are far from the norms and principles of Bandung and being violated among neighbors. ​Non-alignment and positive neutrality, therefore, need to be redefined and invigorated to insure our collective interests and secure the future for all of our nations and citizens.

Looking at NAM since Bandung, we can celebrate significant successes and learn from failures. India has not only demonstrated the resilience of its democratic order but the unleashing of its entrepreneurial creativity. Indonesia’s capability to successfully deal with the simultaneous challenges of democracy, peace, growth and good governance is cause for celebration and learning. Malaysia where Prime Minister Mahatir invented the visioning 20-20 is an inspiration to all countries. From Africa to post-Soviet Caucuses and Central Asia, and Mr. Aliyev, Azerbaijan under your wise leadership, and to the Gulf, they are lessons for leading and managing political, economic and social transitions that need documentation and careful comparative analysis. I hope that under your leadership of NAM, such documentation will take place.

We have, unfortunately, also witnessed major failures. The collapse of former Yugoslavia and its consequent ethnic cleansing, the genocide in Rwanda and the continuation of violence and degradation of human dignity of the Palestinians and people in Miyanmar are still scars on our conscious.

We, the people and the government of Afghanistan, have been confronting a world in turmoil for 40 years, serving as a stage for one of the great tragedies of our times. A founding member of Non-Aligned Movement and a staunch practitioner of neutrality for decades, our lives were shattered by the Soviet invasion of Christmas 1979. The scale and scope of destruction visited upon our people is astounding: 1.5 million martyrs, 1 million disabled, around 10 million becoming refugees and millions more internally displaced. The World Bank estimated the cost of the infrastructure and lost opportunity between 1978 and 2001 at $240 billion.

The tragedy of 9/11 brought us new opportunities and partnerships. We will always be grateful to our NATO and Non-NATO partners that spared no efforts in blood and treasure to ensure our freedom and their security. The United States has been particularly generous, with over 2,000 American men and women in uniform paying the ultimate price. Thanks to the transition in responsibility for combat operations to the Afghan forces on January 1, 2015, the international losses have declined radically and Afghans are now responsible for over 90% of security operations.

Had the Taliban and their supporters, those who providing with sanctuary and support networks, embraced our peace offering, the scale and scope of international forces would have been further reduced and there would have been no need for their continuous presence. Unfortunately, the Taliban, whose operations are made possible by sanctuary, drugs, and international terrorist linkages, are carrying a full-scale onslaught against innocent civilians, investing in furthering a cult of violence and destruction for destruction sake.

Sustainable peace is, therefore, our priority and we are fully committed to bringing peace to our people and to the region. According to the principles of Non-Aligned Movement, we hold the hand of friendship to all our neighbors and renew our offering of peace to the Taliban. But Afghanistan of today is not that of 18 years ago. Firs, democracy is getting established. Having held successful parliamentary elections on 4th of October, we have completed the most transparent and inclusive presidential elections, the result of which should be announced soon.

Second, we are responsible for our security. Our heroic forces have sacrificed over 35,000 lives from an all-volunteer force to uphold our freedom, dignity and constitutional order.

Third, rule of law and governance are being established and all our relationships are taking place within our constitutional framework, because we have succeeded in promulgating 400 pieces of legislation the gives our constitution full meaning.

Fourth, we are in the process of becoming an Asian roundabout instead of a landlocked country. We are now proud to be serving as a central hub of connectivity between Central Asia, South Asia, Iran, China and our other neighbors and linked by air and sea to India and our other neighbors.

Fifth, our most significant change is a generational and gender change. Afghan women speak for themselves and are occupying positions of influence and authority everywhere, and the generational change is fully underway, giving Afghans a position of leadership, now a vision of 40 – 50 years, not 40-50 days. The net result of this is Afghanistan is now fully ready for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process where the people and government of Afghanistan will carry all our partners on a peace process that should bring us lasting peace and sustainable tolerance.

Second we are seeking self-reliance and were able to increase revenue by 90%. We are determined to double [our revenue] every two years.

In short, a democratic, secure and prosperous Afghanistan will be an asset to its neighbors, to its Asian partners, and to the world; a reliable partner for the international community and the Non-Aligned Movement.

Let us through think, therefore, how we can bring positive form of non-alignment and meaningful terms of neutrality by adhering to the rules of the game that we ourselves articulated sixty years ago. Afghanistan should not be serving as a battle ground for proxy forces or for exporting unwanted elements from the neighbors and the rest of the world. We have earned a right to live in peace and prosperity and we are determined to fulfill our goal.

At the end, Mr. Chairman, let me thank you and the people of Azerbaijan for your famous hospitality and thank President Madero for having managed the non-movement during these years and for its successful handover to you.

Thank you.