Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at the UN Security Council session on “Formation of regional partnerships in Afghanistan and Central Asia as a model of coordinating security and development,” New York, January 19, 2018

Sunday, 21 January 2018 17:28

Mr President,

Mr Secretary-General,


First, I would like to note Kazakhstan’s consistent and responsible approach to promoting Central Asian priority issues and its determination to resolve specific problems that face the region’s countries.

We welcome the initiative of our Kazakh friends to conduct today’s session on an issue that is pressing for many countries. It is acquiring special importance against the backdrop of the mounting terrorist and drug threats that are coming from Afghanistan. They have a destabilising influence on Central Asia and are spreading beyond its borders.

The north of Afghanistan is turning into a support base for international terrorism led by the ISIS Afghan wing that is building a stronghold for implementing destructive plans in the spirit of the “caliphate’s” notorious ideology. Thousands of militants of different ethnic origin, including the jihadists that have not been finished off in Syria, are gathering under the ISIS banner with obvious connivance and sometimes the direct support of external and local sponsors. They are openly proclaiming their goal of overthrowing the legitimate authorities of Central Asian states and spreading their influence to the entire Eurasian space.

Last year saw an unprecedented growth in Afghan drug production, as my Polish colleague just mentioned. It is necessary to take urgent measures to curb this threat that is undermining the stability of regional states and the health of the younger generation, and provoking crime and corruption. The international conference “MPs against drugs” organised by the State Duma of the Russian Federal Assembly last December in Moscow was devoted to the drafting of a comprehensive strategy for countering drug business. We welcome the participation of spokespersons for the UN and many Russian and international NGOs at this event.

The situation in Afghanistan requires a comprehensive approach by regional states and the international community as a whole. The experience of the last 20 years has graphically demonstrated the inefficiency of attempts to resolve Afghan problems by force. The adoption of practical steps to launch a process of national reconciliation based on UN Security Council resolutions is on the agenda today.

Guided by these considerations, we initiated a dialogue in the Moscow format, resumed the work of the SCO-Afghanistan contact group and are developing Afghanistan’s partnership with the CSTO, in cooperation with our partners and fellow-thinkers.

We welcome Uzbekistan’s initiative to convene a ministerial meeting on an Afghan settlement next spring. 

We continue helping Kabul train national civilian and law enforcement personnel and enhance the combat ability of the armed forces of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

We consistently advocate the start of direct talks between the Afghan Government and the Taliban as soon as possible with a view to ending the fratricidal war, based on UN Security Council-approved criteria.

Sustainable socio-economic development should become a major factor in maintaining security and stability in Afghanistan as we move forward with the resolution of security tasks. The Eurasian Economic Union and the CIS can make their contribution to this common effort by opening their receptive and promising markets to Afghanistan.

Russia is open to multilateral cooperation projects in the economy and infrastructure, including Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline and the Central Asia-South Asia (CASA-1000) energy project.

Our allied relations and strategic partnership with Central Asian states is based on a common history, a high level of mutual trust and similar attitudes to the key problems of our time.

Our trade and economic ties provide a solid basis for our relations. Russia has invested $20 billion in the region, where over 7,500 Russian companies and joint ventures are operating. Over the past 10 years, we have allocated over $6 billion in assistance to Central Asian states overall, both through bilateral projects and through international organisations, including as part of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development implementation.

We believe that problems with electricity and access to water resources in the region should be resolved through a constructive dialogue and mutual respect for the parties’ hydropower and agricultural interests to the benefit of all regional states.

The specific geography of the Central Asian states calls for enhancing transport efficiency and ensuring reliable trade and economic ties with Asian-Pacific states, including countries in South Asia and Europe. Russia is ready to facilitate this process by developing international East-West and North-South transport corridors. The implementation of this project should be promoted by the creation of a common EAEU transit system and its alignment with China’s Belt and Road initiative. This will strengthen Central Asia’s role in the continental transport system.

There is a great need for mutual cooperation based on a balance of interests in Eurasia. The external players should do their best to promote this cooperation instead of trying to involve the regional countries in a zero sum game, which is becoming apparent in the neglected concept of Greater Central Asia that has been revived recently.

The Central Asian states should not be forced to choose between the south and the north. The region needs a constructive environment and partnership on all sides. Of course, these countries’ obligations within the SCO, the CSTO, the CIS and the EAEU must be respected.

The ambitious plans, which are ultimately aimed at improving the prosperity of people in Central Asia and Afghanistan, can only become reality in conditions of a lasting peace and stability throughout Asia. Russia has been working consistently to rally efforts to create a system of equal and indivisible security in the Asian-Pacific region.

Stability, peace and prosperity in the region are closely connected with the ongoing development of a fairer and more democratic polycentric world order based on international law and respect for the cultural and civilisational diversity of the modern world.

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