Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at the Geneva International Conference on Afghanistan, Geneva, November 28, 2018
Ladies and gentlemen,
Today’s meeting offers a good opportunity for assessing the performance of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (IRA) over the last four years and for analysing the political processes under way in that state. And, of course, the international community can reaffirm its readiness to continue rendering support to Afghanistan in its bid to become a peaceful, independent and self-reliant state free of terrorism and drug related crime.
We regard its October 2018 parliamentary elections as an important stage in the emergence of Afghan democratic society. At the same time, we cannot but pay attention to the numerous voter complaints about the organisation of voting: the election returns have not been announced to this day and remain uncertain. The elections to provincial and county councils were not held. We hope that the necessary conclusions will be drawn during the preparations for the presidential elections, when these take place.
We are still gravely concerned over the continuing deterioration of the military political situation in that country. We consistently proceed from the assumption that the Afghan crisis can be settled solely by political means. It is necessary to launch a broad inter-Afghan inclusive dialogue involving the IRA Government, the Taliban, and the entire spectrum of public as well as political forces.
Guided by these aims, Russia organised, on November 9, the second meeting of the Moscow Format consultations with the participation of Afghanistan, China, Pakistan, Iran, Central Asian countries and Taliban representatives to create favourable conditions for arranging direct negotiations between the Government of Afghanistan and the Taliban. Pursuant to President Ashraf Ghani’s decision, Kabul was represented by a High Peace Council delegation. A thing of importance is that all the participants at the meeting unanimously spoke in favour of closer cooperation in the fight against the Islamic State’s Afghan wing, which is a threat to security not only in Afghanistan but the region as a whole. We will continue interacting within the Moscow Format with regional partners and other parties concerned, helping to launch an inclusive inter-Afghan dialogue.
Russia will continue contributing to the strengthening of Afghanistan’s statehood. We think that stabilisation is predicated on building up the combat capability of the national armed force. Russia and Afghanistan have an intergovernmental agreement on military technical assistance, under which preferential and gratuitous aid is rendered to Kabul.
As an additional economic support measure, Russia has introduced a zero customs duty on Afghan imports.
We continue rendering large-scale assistance in personnel training, with over 800 Afghan students getting an education at Russian universities on grants that we provide.
250 Afghan military and police officers are trained at educational establishments of the Russian Ministry of Defence and the Interior Ministry.
Afghan law enforcers are also trained as part of the anti-drug projects that Russia implements jointly with Japan, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and the OSCE. A unique Russian-Japanese project to create a dog-training centre in Kabul was launched under the aegis of the OSCE on November 12. With Russia’s financial assistance the UNODC is implementing a programme to organise a food zone in the Badakhshan province, the aim of which is to expand areas free from the cultivation of drugs.
The revival of a peaceful and stable Afghanistan requires a joint effort by the entire world community, including Central Asian states and the vast Eurasian space as a whole. We will continue promoting the intensification of Afghanistan’s interaction with the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, including as part of the restored mechanism of the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group.
We hope that the people of Afghanistan will soon reach the goal of ending the fratricidal war and will successfully implement a large-scale programme of reforms. We will render the most active assistance to its effort to achieve these aims.