By: The Kabul Times
Foreign ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member countries issued a joint statement following a meeting in the format of the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group on Wednesday.
The foreign ministers stand for the development of Afghanistan as an independent, neutral, united, peaceful, democratic and prosperous state, according to the statement.
They realize that peace and stability in that country is one of the main factors in ensuring security in the SCO region, the statement said, adding that the ministers are convinced of the need to continue helping the Afghan people in their efforts to restore the country and return to the road of peace and national accord.
The foreign ministers declared in the statement the following:
“As friendly neighbors and important partners of Afghanistan, the SCO member states are interested in its development as a peaceful, stable and prosperous country, and confirm their respect for the traditions and culture of all peoples living in Afghanistan.
In accordance with universally accepted principles and norms of international law, primarily the UN Charter, the SCO countries reaffirm their respect for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Afghanistan. They intend to facilitate the development of Afghanistan as a country free from terrorism, war and drugs.
“We condemn the violence and terror attacks that continue in Afghanistan, killing civilians and representatives of government bodies and call for their cessation as soon as possible. We note that the activities of international terrorist organizations remain one of the key factors of instability in that country. We express our deep concern over the escalation of tensions in the northern provinces of Afghanistan as a result of a sharp increase in the concentration of various terrorist, separatist and extremist groups. We consider it important for the SCO member states to enhance their joint efforts in order to counteract terrorism, separatism and extremism.
“We urge all parties involved in the conflict in Afghanistan to refrain from the use of force and actions that may lead to destabilization and unpredictable consequences near the Afghan borders with the SCO states.”
The SCO member states reaffirm their willingness to continue developing cooperation with Afghanistan on countering security threats in the region, in particular, all forms and manifestations of terrorism and drug trafficking, and to jointly oppose double standards in resolving these tasks.
Emphasizing the importance of long-term hospitality and effective aid for Afghan refugees, the SCO members consider it important for the international community to take active joint efforts to facilitate their proper, safe and sustainable return home.
“We believe that reaching an early settlement in Afghanistan is a major factor in maintaining and strengthening security and stability in the SCO space. In this context, we emphasize the need for the government and people of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to intensify their efforts to restore peace, promote national economic development and counter terrorism, extremism and drug-related crime. We confirm the position of the SCO members that the conflict in Afghanistan can only be settled by political dialogue and an inclusive peace process conducted and led by the Afghans themselves. “We urge all interested states and international organizations to strengthen their cooperation, with the UN playing a central coordinating role, in order to stabilize and develop the country. In this context, we note the activities of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General and the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy.
“We welcome the diplomatic support for the peace process in Afghanistan by the international public, including the inter-Afghan peace talks in Doha, the extended Troika, the Moscow consultations format and the Tashkent venue. We note the outcome of the ministerial meeting of the Heart of Asia – Istanbul process in Dushanbe on March 29-30, 2021.
Respecting the Afghan people’s independent choice of their own path of development, we are convinced that the inter-Afghan negotiations must consider the interests of all ethnic groups living in the country.
“We attach much importance to our cooperation in the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group. We consider it necessary to consistently implement the roadmap for further action by the Contact Group, which was adopted in Bishkek on June 14, 2019, with a view to strengthening regional stability and developing relations between the SCO states and Afghanistan.
“We reaffirm the willingness of our countries to continue deepening cooperation with Afghanistan in politics and security, as well as in the economic and humanitarian spheres, including by maximizing the potential of Afghanistan‘s participation as an observer state in the SCO’s activities.”