Distinguished Minister Resul,
We have gathered here today to exhibit our commitment to positive and constructive regional cooperation, with a view to ensuring a secure, prosperous and peaceful Afghanistan in a secure, prosperous and peaceful region.
The high-level presence here today is a testimony to our collective resolution to work together for the well-being of all of our countries in the Heart of Asia, based on the principles of Afghan leadership and regional ownership.
We, Afghanistan’s immediate and extended regional partners, share a common history and future. Thus, we have an important role in overcoming the psychological challenge, by creating a feeling of a better tomorrow and a stronger sense of trust regarding the future of Afghanistan and the Heart of Asia together.
Due to our geographical, political and cultural proximity and shared destiny, whatever happens in Afghanistan affects us in one way or another. Therefore, contributing to peace and stability in Afghanistan is also in our interest as well as our responsibility.
As such, time has come for us to speed-up our collective endeavours aimed at finding creative, comprehensive and practical solutions to regional issues, with Afghanistan at its core. In fact, the Istanbul Process, which aims to enhance regional cooperation in a result-oriented and practical framework, has already become an important milestone in this respect.
The Istanbul Process, we all initiated in last November, has three main aspects:
The first aspect is enhancing political dialogue among the region.
The fact that we are here today, to discuss and exchange views, itself is strengthening our dialogue.
The preparations to be made in the regular meetings of our Senior Officials and Ambassadors in Kabul will help us enhance our common understanding, coordination and cohesion on a number of issues of joint interest. This in turn, I believe, will reduce any uncertainty and will enable us to work on a more solid ground.
The second aspect is the implementation of confidence building measures.
In order to build confidence, one needs to commit to working together, to leave past negative memories behind and positively reconstruct future expectations.
To start building trust among ourselves, one needs to see that the future will be better when there is a shared vision. Therefore, it is important to start changing some unhelpful perceptions by coming together and elaborating on our common interests.
The Istanbul Process provides a valuable platform for reaching this goal. The confidence building measures we have identified will indeed be instrumental in narrowing the gaps left unaddressed so far and increasing the common ground among the countries in the region. It will help us forge the building blocks for a shared vision for a better future for all.
Of course, the implementation of these confidence building measures should not be rushed and a sustained and incremental approach in implementation should be maintained.
I am pleased to declare that Turkey will participate in all the seven confidence building measures. Disasters, terrorism, illicit drugs, impediments to trade and economic growth, and the illiteracy are identified as common challenges. Turkey, actually, has already been cooperating with Afghanistan and the countries of the region in varying levels both bilaterally and multilaterally. This is, I understand, also true for the most of the countries around this table.
Relevant Turkish institutions, in addition to joining in envisaged implementation steps for confidence building measures, also stand ready to replicate projects that it has successfully implemented in other regions, such as the “Chambers of Commerce Academy” which provides training opportunities and thus builds capacity for interested Chambers of Commerce.
The third aspect of the Istanbul Process is building synergy among regional organizations.
From the very outset, we emphasized that the Istanbul Process was not to substitute any regional effort but was to complement and create synergy with them. Bringing together regional organizations in the same platform, I believe, will create greater coherence among the various initiatives pertaining to Afghanistan and its partners in the region.
We also see UN’s involvement in the Istanbul Process as a key factor. I am pleased to see that UN agencies, most of which are already active in their respective fields, are also to take part in implementation of confidence building measures. I would also like to commend the significant contribution UNAMA has provided to the Istanbul Process.
The time has come for us to join hands and devise creative, comprehensive and practical solutions, for the benefit of both Afghanistan and ourselves.
Turkey also deeply appreciates the role and expected contribution of our global partners as supporters to the Istanbul Process. This supporting role demonstrates the strong commitment of the international community to Afghanistan.
In any case, Turkey’s commitment to Afghanistan is for the long term and we will always stand-by our Afghan brothers and sisters.
We are sure that this feeling and vision is shared by everybody around this table.
Therefore, we look now with greater confidence to our common future, fully aware of the challenging but also rewarding task ahead of us.