Statement of H.E. Mr. Ali Babacan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey, at the Special Conference on Afghanistan of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), 27 March 2009, Moscow

Mr. Chairman, Dear Colleagues,

I would like to express my appreciation to the Russian Federation for organizing this special conference on Afghanistan under the auspices of Shangai Cooperation Organization. And Thank you Sergey for your hospitality.

When we analyze and draw strategies for the issues of Afghanistan a regional approach is essential. We are happy to see that this is one of the main themes of this conference. Coordination and unity of efforts between different regional organizations and significant contributors is necessary and welcome.

2009 is a crucial year for Afghanistan, a year during which we are going to also see the elections. It will be very important to take necessary security measures. There needs to be utmost care for the protection of the civilian population. This also requires support for the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National police.

Alongside military means, increased use of political, diplomatic and social mechanisms is also imperative. A well-coordinated, major economic development program aiming to make progress even in the most remote areas of Afghanistan is necessary. It will be very important to win the hearts and the minds of the Afghan people. This should be coupled with a major drive in the education sector with a view to rendering the development effort sustainable in the long term. Turkey is ready to play a leading role in this regard.

As the international community all our efforts should focus on supporting Afghan owned solutions to the Afghan problems. In the final analysis it is the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the people of Afghanistan that will find the lasting solutions and live with them. We can merely support them. The solution will inevitably have to include a vast majority of the Afghan population across various segments of the society.

The security problems in Afghanistan are affecting other regional countries. In this regard international support for Pakistan’s efforts to curb terrorist activities on it soil are also essential.

For Afghanistan, bilaterally we have been living up to pledge of 200 million dollars of development assistance. The Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency already have finalized over 550 projects in 27 provinces across Afghanistan.The focus is on education, healthcare, agriculture, job creation and capacity building.

We have also assumed a special responsibility for the province of Meydan Vardak and established a Provincial Reconstruction Team there.

The schools that Turkey has built are currently serving 56 thousand students across Afghanistan. More than 1 million patients have received medical care in the clinics that we have built.

Turkey has provided training and material assistance to the Afghan National Army which is worth over 100 million dollars. We are also contributing to the training of the Afghan National Police.

In the important field of counter-narcotics, over 200 Afghan law enforcement personnel have received training at the Turkish International Academy Against Drug and Organized Crime. Some of these courses are organized jointly with our Russian and Central Asian partners. We intend to contribute to the OSCE efforts in this regard as well.

This year is going to be an important year for Afghanistan. It is going to be also an important transition. Although military means is very important to help Afghanistan until Afghanistan develops its own military and police force, on the other hand a real solution for the problems of Afghanistan will be a political solution.

The Trilateral Summits between Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan which were launched in 2007 have given good results. These Summits have three pillars; dialogue, security and development. The Summit meeting in Istanbul, last December saw the approval of several trilateral projects related to security and development. The next Summit will be held in Ankara next week. Along with President Karzai, Zerdari and Gül, Foreign Ministers of three countries and top military and intelligence officials of three countries will be attending this Summit.

Finally as Turkey, we welcome opportunities to cooperate more with the Shangai Cooperation Organization not only on issues about Afghanistan, but in other regional issues as well.

Thank you.