|Statement by Ambassador Zhang Yishan on behalf of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization at the plenary meeting of the UNGA 60th session on the situation in Afghanistan|
As a close neighbor of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Afghanistan enjoys friendly relations with SCO members. Changes and evolutions in the Afghan situation are closely related to the region where the SCO is located.
SCO members have been following closely the process of peace and reconstruction in Afghanistan, and we are pleased to see that positive progress has been made in this process. Politically, Afghanistan promulgated a new constitution, and held successful presidential and parliamentary elections, laying a political foundation for its stability. Economically, the country is committed to post-war reconstruction, effectively using international assistance and tapping its own resources. Last year, it achieved an impressive economic growth rate of 20%. In the security area, the Afghan National Army and Police Forces are being established smoothly. They have started to undertake local security responsibilities independently, and have also made important efforts to fight terrorism and narcotics. In the area of foreign relations, Afghanistan has successfully completed the Bonn process by seeking international cooperation, and in the meantime, it has attached importance to developing friendly relations and cooperation with its neighbors. Hereby, SCO members would like to congratulate the Afghan Government and the people on these achievements.
On the other hand, Afghanistan is still facing quite a number of pressing problems. It still lacks complete stability in its security situation. Its economic reconstruction remains a long-term and arduous task. There is still no obvious improvement in the handling of such issues as narcotics production and trafficking.
We are seriously concerned with the significant increase in recent months in terrorist activities by the Taliban and other extremists.
The SCO believes that for Afghanistan to achieve lasting peace and order and comprehensive progress in social and economic undertakings, it first needs to maintain stability and promote development. We welcome a stable Afghanistan that is free of terrorism, war, narcotics and poverty. National reconciliation will be crucial in the achievement of a long-term comprehensive settlement of the Afghan conflict.
Second, it is important that Afghanistan build a friendly and cooperative neighboring environment and, within the framework of the Kabul Declaration of December 2, 2002 on Good-Neighborly Relations, maintain friendly relations and conduct extensive cooperation with its neighbors for mutual benefit and win-win results.
Third, it is essential that Afghanistan continue to seek support and assistance from the international community led by the UN.
The SCO believes that peace, stability and development in Afghanistan serve not only the interests of the Afghan people, but also the common interests of all countries in the region and the world at large. The international community should respect the state sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity of Afghanistan, respect the Afghan people's independent choice of their social system and development mode, and not interfere in their internal affairs, so as to create favorable external conditions for social and economic development of Afghanistan. The international alliance against terrorism should cooperate closely with the Afghan Government, and act within the mandate of the UN Security Council and with the consent of the legitimate authorities of Afghanistan.
The SCO supports providing extensive international humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people, and has made important contributions to this end. For example, the Chinese Government pledged in 2002 an aid package worth of USS 150 million to help the Afghan Government with post-war reconstruction. The grants, part of the total aid, will be fully delivered next year. In November 2002, China wrote off all the mature debts, or £ 9.607 million, owed to it by Afghanistan. The Russian Federation also provides assistance to Afghanistan through different channels. In particular, the Ministry of Defense of Russia in 2002-2005 provided Afghanistan with vehicles and other military equipment in a total amount of $USD200 million. Russia also delivers significant humanitarian assistance. In the future, SCO members will continue to do what they can to provide Afghanistan with assistance, and encourage their businessmen to take an active part in post-war reconstruction of Afghanistan.
As it was stated in the Declaration of the SCO Summit meeting held in Astana (Kazakhstan) on July 5, 2005, the SCO is ready to have exchanges and cooperation with Afghanistan in areas of mutual interest. It is worthwhile recalling in this context that countering the production and proliferation of drugs remains one of the key elements in stabilizing the situation in Afghanistan. The most effective strategy should be one that provides tight control of Afghanistan's borders with neighboring countries by strengthening and establishing new anti-drug "security belts".
In June 2004, President Karzai of the Afghan Interim Government was invited to the SCO Tashkent Summit as a guest. It was decided at the Summit that a SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group be established to enhance their cooperation. Early this month, the SCO and Afghanistan officially signed the protocol for the establishment of the Contact Group in Beijing. According to the protocol, the two sides will hold working consultation on a regular basis to promote their bilateral cooperation. This will create new favorable conditions for effective cooperation between SCO members and Afghanistan.
We believe that a role for the United Nations in Afghan affairs following the completion of the Bonn process should include, in particular, the coordination of the international community's peace-building and reconstruction efforts. The specific structure of a future United Nations presence remains to be determined, but it must involve Afghans themselves and take into account the country's real needs. SCO members will make a constructive contribution in the relevant efforts.
We are confident that, under the leadership of President Karzai and the Afghan Government, and with the unremitting efforts of the Afghan people and the vigorous assistance of the international community, Afghanistan will make even greater progress in economic reconstruction and social development. The SCO stands ready to participate actively in the process and work tirelessly to this end.
We support the GA draft resolution on Afghanistan prepared by a wide group of co-sponsors. Its adoption by consensus would help enhance concerted efforts of the international community in Afghanistan.
Thank you, Mr. President.