Inter-American problems and regional policy
Russian Foreign Minister’s remarks at a ceremonial meeting dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Russian-Afghan diplomatic relations, Moscow, May 28, 2019
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am delighted to welcome you to this ceremonial gathering dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Russia and Afghanistan. I am particularly grateful to our Afghan guests, who have come to Moscow specifically to attend this event.
Our countries are bound by a rich history of good-neighbourliness and cooperation. In 1919, Russia was the first country in the world to recognise Afghanistan’s independence and render substantial financial and military aid to the young state. It was during this period of time that the two countries displayed a striving for promoting friendly and mutually beneficial ties and laid the foundation for good-neighbourly relations.
For decades, this country helped the establishment of Afghanistan’s manufacturing, energy sector, agriculture, education and healthcare system. During the years of cooperation, Russian specialists helped to build over 140 economic and social facilities. Hundreds of contracts and agreements were signed. Thousands of young Afghans were trained at Soviet and Russian educational establishments. Even the dramatic events in the 1980s failed to dampen the feeling of mutual sympathy and respect that our two peoples feel for each other.
Today, Russia pursues a policy aimed at facilitating Afghanistan’s emergence as a peaceful, independent, and prosperous state that is free from terrorism and narcotic drugs.
In 2011, President Hamid Karzai of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan paid the first ever official visit to Russia (I am delighted to welcome him today along with many other friends of Russia to this room), during which the Intergovernmental Agreement on Trade and Economic Cooperation was signed. A joint Russian-Afghan Intergovernmental Commission was established. The bilateral inter-parliamentary ties have been developing dynamically. Each year, the heads of the Federation Council and the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation meet with their colleagues from the Mesherano Jirga and the Wolesi Jirga of the National Assembly of Afghanistan on the sidelines of international events.
Russian companies are helping Afghanistan implement a number of energy projects. Every year, over 400 Afghan citizens are enrolled in Russian universities in civilian, military or law-enforcement degree programmes. Cooperation in cultural and humanitarian spheres is on the rise. The opening of a Russian Centre of Science and Culture in Kabul is on the agenda.
Common goals in the fight against international terrorism, primarily the so-called Islamic State, as well as against drug trafficking are helping deepen trust and mutual understanding between our countries. We are ready to continue interaction with our Afghan partners in eradicating security threats and to render aid in strengthening the potential of civilian, military and anti-narcotics agencies.
Events within the framework of the Moscow Format and the Intra-Afghan Dialogue meeting are due to make an important contribution to the settlement in Afghanistan. These marked the beginning of a new stage on the path to launching a peace process and making it maximally legitimate through the involvement of all of the country’s public and political forces, including the opposition. In this context, we are satisfied to note the presence in this room of a Taliban delegation.
Russia is confident that there is no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan. The only possible path to a settlement is through achieving peace by political and diplomatic means. We are in favour of a full pull-out of foreign forces from the country. We call on all Afghan sides to start talks involving a broad range of public and political forces as soon as possible. In this context, we confirm our commitment to preserving a single and indivisible Afghan state, where numerous ethnic groups coexist in peace and harmony. We sincerely wish for the establishment of peace on Afghan soil and the opening of a new page in its history.
We will continue to do all we can to enable Russian-Afghan relations to develop consistently based on the principles of equality and mutual respect.
Esteemed participants at this meeting,
In conclusion, I would like to take advantage of today’s event to carry out a commission on behalf of President of Russia Vladimir Putin. I intend to award a high government decoration of the Russian Federation – Order of Friendship – to Chairman of the Council of the Afghan Business Centre in Moscow Mohammad Nadir Shah Juma Khan for the great personal contribution he has made to the strengthening of cooperation and mutual understanding between the peoples of Russia and Afghanistan.