Transcript of President Ashraf Ghani’s speech at Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit 2019

Transcript of President Ashraf Ghani’s speech at Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit 2019

Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم

President Jeenbekov, Excellencies Heads of State and Government, Ladies and Gentlemen

Despite the specter of global uncertainty, the SCO member states have reasons for celebration and optimism, adherence to the Shanghai spirit has not only resulted in overcoming of inherited problems but has also creating the platform for the historic transformation of Euro-Asia into a continental economy. Congratulations to China on Revolution’s  70th anniversary  and President Xi on his birthday tomorrow, to PM Modi on his strong mandate from the people of India, and President Tokoyov on his election.  I thank Iran and Russia for recognizing our independence a hundred years ago and having close cooperation with us today. Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan have been reintegrating us into Central Asia, and are now our largest trading partners. I also like to thank India and Iran for the air corridor and for the Chabahar corridor. I am looking forward to a comprehensive and constructive dialogue with PM Khan on June 27th.  I would like to thank all the leaders who have spoken for highlighting the need for a political solution to Afghanistan’s conflict. And I look very much forward to working with the Shanghai Core Group to seek and ensure an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace process.

We, the majority of the Afghan people, are  relentlessly pursuing our vision of  building the institutions of our Islamic Republic, enjoying internal peace and national unity and solidarity, serving  as a hub of regional connectivity and a center of  Islamic learning, and functioning as an Asian Roundabout and a platform of regional and global cooperation.    To realize this vision, we are holding presidential elections on September 28, focusing on peace, implementing a program of self-reliance,  investing in regional connectivity and renewing our international and regional partnerships.

As a  free, fair, inclusive and transparent election is the test of  a constitutional order, we invite international observers and observers from Shanghai Cooperation Council to monitor our elections.   Our mandate for seeking peace with the Taliban comes from the resolution of the April 29-May 2 Consultative Loya Jirga, fully 3,200 elected members, over 30% of whom were women and 60% of youth, from all the districts and all the social strata of our nation created a roadmap consisting of 23 items for the future of the Afghan state; the Afghan state and people are resolutely implementing this roadmap.

To demonstrate self-reliance, we have our increased the revenue by 90%, are rationalizing expenditure – as an illustration, expecting $1 billion this year alone on savings on the security expenditure, and through passing of over 400 laws and regulations have created a solid legal foundation for the development of our vast natural wealth, including the exceptional mineral resources.   Becoming a roundabout for energy and transport corridors between Central and South Asia, and Iran and the Gulf is in the process of realization. In short, compared to five years ago, the  building blocs of securing Afghanistan’s future as a stable and self-reliant country in the heart of Asia are falling into place.

Narcotics, terrorism, and war, however, threaten both our wellbeing and the security of CSO members and observers.   In a recent operation in the Farah province, our security forces eliminated 53 laboratories, inflicting an estimated $1billion on the drug dealers.   What is new is that the production has gone beyond opium and heroin to methamphetamine.  Every parent in the region and the world should be concerned and every government should help with analysis and action against this dangerous development.

While there is consensus on the threat of terrorism and we have been cooperating with all of you to reduce the threat to your security, sufficient consensus on a regional approach to our collective security and wellbeing is in need of building.   Required is an understanding of the drivers and supporting systems to deal with a threat that is certainly medium-term and possibly long-term.   We hope that the UN strategy can be turned into a resolution and a comprehensive action program and that we can enhance regional and global cooperation.

The war in and over Afghanistan is multi-dimensional but reaching a peace agreement with the Taliban is a key component for reduction of violence.   We consider the US commitment to a political solution to be credible and are coordinating well to build the necessary international consensus with all our partners on peace.   Breakthroughs however require regional consensus on peace and addressing Taliban’s interdependencies with their supporters. Given the opportunities and threats, we propose the following.

First, to overcome the risk of fragmented approaches to peace, a regional and international coalition for peace should be formed to work with us to create a coherent framework for dialogue and negotiations.  A coherent framework will result in quicker action and implementation.

Second, as international experience demonstrates that neighbors of countries in conflict are the greatest economic beneficiaries of peace, we propose the formation of a regional task force to work with the Shanghai group to develop bankable programs and projects for regional connectivity and poverty reduction.

Third, given the clear and present threat of narcotics to our children, we propose that the issue of narcotics as a driver of conflict and criminality be comprehensively addressed within the peace-making and peace-building framework.

Fourth, terrorist networks are determined to rob us of a secure future.   Agreeing to a regional framework is, therefore, in all of our interests.

The cost of conflict to us, particularly our civilian population, is very real that is why we seek a political solution. However, the Afghan armed forces are valiantly defending our country and are not at risk of collapse. For 40 years, we, the Afghan people, have suffered from imposed violence and destruction.   A peaceful and secure Afghanistan will have second and third order benefits for the region, all the members and observers of SCO and the world.   We count on your support and partnership for helping us assume our rightful place as an Asian roundabout in the Euro-Asian continental economy and global systems of cooperation.  I would like to once again thank President Jeenbekov, and the great people of Kyrgyzstan for their exceptional hospitality and attention to us. I would also like to congratulate President Putin on assuming the chairmanship. We look very much forward to working with Russia during your chairmanship to harness the spirit of Shanghai for bringing peace and stability not only to Afghanistan but also regional cooperation and prosperity for all of us.

Thank you