Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process on Afghanistan, March 30, 2021
We are grateful to our Tajik and Afghan partners for organising a regular Ministerial Conference of the Istanbul Process on the developments in Afghanistan and around it.
Afghanistan is in a difficult period of its development. The military and political situation in the country is still very alarming. Terrorist attacks are staged frequently, and a seasonal increase in combat activities cannot be ruled out. In this context, it is necessary to do everything possible to reduce the level of violence.
Of course, some progress has been made in this sphere. For example, we regard the termination of hostilities between the United States and the Taliban and the launch of direct intra-Afghan contacts in Doha in 2020 as a major step towards ending the armed conflict. We are convinced that these achievements must be used to move without any delay towards finding solutions on national reconciliation issues and the creation of broadly representative bodies of power.
In this context, Russia is working closely with its regional and international partners in various formats. On March 18, 2021, Moscow hosted a regular meeting of the extended “Troika” comprising representatives of Russia, China, the United States and Pakistan, which was also attended by representatives of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, prominent Afghan political figures and representatives of the Taliban movement, as well as Qatar and Turkey as guests of honour. We believe that the discussion held by the Afghan delegations has given a fresh momentum to the negotiations in Doha.
During the past years, Russia has been providing assistance to its Afghan partners in the economic, military-technical and humanitarian spheres. The training of national personnel remains an important part of our bilateral cooperation. An increasing number of young Afghans are studying at Russian universities. Last year, we enrolled over 500 Afghan students in civilian departments alone. We continue training personnel for Afghanistan’s armed forces, law enforcement and counter-narcotics police.
In September 2020, the ground-breaking ceremony for a dog training centre of the Afghan Interior Ministry’s counter-narcotics police took place in Kabul within the framework of the joint project of Russia, Japan and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. I would like to point out that Afghan experts for this centre will be trained in Russia.
In 2020, the region and the world as a whole faced a new challenge, the coronavirus pandemic. In this situation, Russia provided targeted humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. We donated PPE and medical equipment to the country in June and November and sent more than 300 tonnes of food aid in November and December 2020. We will continue providing this assistance.
In conclusion, I would like to point out once again that Russia has always promoted the development of Afghanistan as an independent and self-sufficient state free from terrorism and drugs. We sincerely hope that the Afghan people will restore a lasting peace as soon as possible and will turn a new page in the country’s history.
Thank you. I would like to wish you success.