Dr Oktay F. Tanrisever,
EGF Affiliated Expert
PRESS-RELEASE FROM THE EMBASSY OF THE REPUBLIC OF UZBEKISTAN TO THE KINGDOM OF BELGIUM AND THE MISSIONS TO THE EU AND NATO
The position of Uzbekistan on Afghanistan as voiced by the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov at the CIS summit in Minsk on 25 October 2013
“…the upcoming withdrawal of ISAF - international peacekeeping forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, without any doubt, will be a serious test for the countries bordering Afghanistan and other surrounding areas.
Most countries in the world are coming to the conclusion that the only way is to seek political and peaceful resolution to the problem, the way of negotiations and reaching a consensus between various confronting forces under the aegis of the UN, and the way of forming a temporary government, which the main confronting forces in Afghanistan could join.
Uzbekistan, as a country neighboring with Afghanistan, is committed to the principal policy of non-intervention into the internal affairs of Afghanistan and cooperation with Afghanistan on a bilateral basis by giving aid and support to the government, which the Afghan people elect themselves.
In order to maintain security and stability in our countries and the whole region in these conditions, it is especially important to implement measures taken by each country and to coordinate mutual consultations among sides that are interested in mitigating the aftermath of the withdrawal of forces in surrounding countries. And it is utmost important in these circumstances, to prevent chaos and disorder in Afghanistan. Great powers concerned can and should make an effective assistance in this...”
Dr Oktay F. Tanrisever:
Uzbekistan's remarks about the post-2014 period in Afghanistan seem to be a welcome development for the regional security in Central Asia as well as the relations between Afghanistan and its Central Asian neighbours. For a very long time, the Central Asian countries focused primarily on minimizing the spill-over effect of the instability in Afghanistan to Central Asia. These countries provided Afghanistan with mostly indirect security assistance in the form of maintaining the Northern Distribution Network as well as providing NATO's ISAF mission and some of the NATO members with logistical support in exchange for economic aid. Kazakhstan's small, but symbolically very important direct security assistance to Afghanistan set a positive precedent and demonstrated that the Central Asian security assistance may increase in the long term.
The Central Asian countries, in general and Uzbekistan in particular are increasingly concerned with the possible regional consequences of Afghan transition in 2014. The decline in the strategic importance of Central Asia and the risk of regional instability motivate the Central Asian countries to take more responsibility for the regional security and to keep the great powers engaged in Central Asian as well as Afghanistan's security. Therefore, Uzbekistan's remarks as set out above reflect the general trend among the Central Asian countries. From the perspective international community, this seems to be a welcome development.
For the Karzai leadership in Afghanistan this is a positive development too. It is important to note at this point that Kabul is more worried about the policies of Pakistan and Iran as sponsors of instability inside Afghanistan. If Pakistan and Iran follow the positive precedent set by Uzbekistan and other Central Asian states by contributing to the security rather than instability of Afghanistan, this will have positive security implications for the whole region.
Unfortunately, in contrast to the Central Asian countries, Pakistan and Iran do not show any significant sign of cooperative behaviour towards Kabul in terms of security cooperation. Uzbekistan and the other Central Asian republics deserve praise for their contribution to Afghanistan's security, and consequently to international security as well.
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