Russian FM Sergey Lavrov at Moscow Format meeting on Afghanistan
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20 october

Russian FM Sergey Lavrov at Moscow Format meeting on Afghanistan

Full transcript & Joint Statement of the Participants in the Moscow Format Consultations on Afghanistan:

  • We attach great importance to the activities of this mechanism and consider it as one of the most relevant ones in terms of developing regional consensus and a common understanding of how the situation in #Afghanistan and around it will unfold. The major undeniable advantage of the Moscow consultations is that they bring together Afghanistan, all of its neighboring countries without exception and other influential countries of the region
  • We note the efforts the Taliban interim government take to stabilize the military and political situation, establish the activities of the state machine. However, the task of achieving stable peace in Afghanistan is still relevant. We see the formula for its successful solution mainly in the formation of a truly inclusive government, which should fully reflect the interests of all not only ethnic, but also political forces of the country
  • Numerous terror groups seek to take advantage of instability, first and foremost, the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda, who are once again trying to lift up their heads, carrying out bold and deadly raids in various parts of the country.
According to Lavrov, the situation in Afghanistan following the establishment of a new balance of power cannot be described as stable. "On the one hand, there is no alternative to [the new balance of power] in the foreseeable future and on the other, there is a lack of official international recognition, as well as the social, economic and financial issues and humanitarian challenges that the new Kabul authorities are facing," the Russian top diplomat added.

Full transcript of the Minister's address:

#Lavrov: We attach great importance to the work of the Moscow format consultations, we regard it as one of the most demanded in the context of developing a regional consensus and a common understanding of further ways of developing the situation in Afghanistan and around it.

The main and indisputable advantage of the Moscow format is that it unites Afghanistan with all neighboring countries and other influential states of the region without exception. We express our regret that our American colleagues did not participate in the event this time. We drew attention to the fact that for the second time in a row the Americans have avoided a meeting within the framework of the expanded "troika" (Russia-USA-China-Pakistan). I hope this have nothing to do with some principal problems. One of the reasons is the recent change of the US Special Representative for Afghanistan. I hope that the United States remain ready to work actively in the Afghan sector, and the new Special Representative will join the further steps, including following the current meeting of the Moscow format in the context of the implementation of the agreements that you will reach today.

Let me remind you that the Moscow format was born back in 2017. Exactly on its margins in November 2018 the delegations of the Taliban Movement and the republican "camp" met for the first time in the presence of representatives of ten countries.

Now, after a radical change in the situation on the ground, it is already pointless to seek for those to blame for the failure to achieve a tangible result in the matter of national reconciliation. I would like to note that the expectations placed on the republican "camp", on the previous government headed by former Afghan President A.Ghani, did not come true.

Now the new administration is in power. This fait accompli places great responsibility on the Taliban. We note the efforts they are undertaking to stabilize the military-political situation and to improve the activities of the state apparatus.

The challenge of achieving sustainable peace in Afghanistan remains urgent.

We see the key to its successful solution in the formation of an inclusive government, which should fully reflect the interests of all not only ethnic, but also political forces of the country. Such "perspicacity" would serve as a good lesson for those who sacrificed their national interests for the sake of satisfying their personal ambitions, literally leaving their people to the mercy of fate. This would also predetermine the vector of the progressive development of Afghanistan, relying on the widest possible stratum of the population. The support of the masses, of course, is also associated with a competent social policy, the observance of the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens. We have just spoken about this in detail with the delegation of the Taliban Movement before the opening of our meeting.

Established after August 15 this year. the new balance of power in Afghanistan, on the one hand, has no alternative for the foreseeable future. On the other hand, the lack of official recognition in the international arena, problems in the socio-economic and financial spheres, humanitarian challenges faced by the new authorities in Kabul indicate that the current state of affairs in the country cannot yet be called stable.

Numerous terrorist groups, primarily the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda, are trying to take advantage of this in turn, which are again trying to “raise their heads” by making daring bloody forays in different parts of the country. Unfortunately, problem of the drug production in Afghanistan remains acute. Today there is a real threat of an overflow of terrorist and drug activity, including those masquerading as migration flows, onto the territory of neighboring countries. In this context, for obvious reasons, we are especially concerned about the Central Asian direction.

Countering the aforementioned threats to the security of Afghanistan and the surrounding region, as well as the threats that are projected onto other regions of the world, requires a timely, adequate response both within the country and from external partners. We call on the Taliban Movement (and this was also discussed with the delegation) to strictly follow the line of preventing anyone from using the territory of Afghanistan against the interests of third countries, primarily against Afghanistan's immediate neighbors - the countries of Central Asia, our friends and allies. We plan to use our capabilities, including through the UN, SCO, CSTO and other multilateral structures. The summits of the CSTO and SCO member states held in Dushanbe last month, as well as a special joint meeting of these associations at the highest level dedicated to the situation in Afghanistan, demonstrated the consonance of the approaches of the members of both organizations to solving existing problems. It is important that both the SCO and the CSTO have a special mechanism, which was created many years ago, dedicated to interaction with Afghanistan and the search for ways of assistance and stabilization in this country.

We are satisfied with the level of practical interaction with the Afghan authorities, which allows at the current stage to effectively solve the primary tasks of ensuring the security of the Russian citizens living in Afghanistan, the smooth functioning of our Embassy in Kabul, as well as the Embassies of other states. We are grateful to the Afghan Side for the help in the work of domestic journalists, which allows them to objectively report on domestic political events, as well as for facilitating the return to their homeland of Russians who found themselves in Afghanistan during the period of power change.

We consider the decision to continue full-time education by Afghan students admitted to study at Russian universities as an important step. In the near future we are planning to organize their departure to Russia. We will continue to build business relations with Kabul in order to resolve pressing and urgent issues on the bilateral agenda.

The development of national education, health care, and other socially significant spheres - especially in conditions of sharply limited financial resources - certainly requires energetic efforts from the emerging new authorities and sometimes non-standard solutions. Reports of deteriorating living conditions of the ordinary Afghans are of great concern. Experts do not exclude an aggravation of the humanitarian situation associated with the inability of a significant part of the Afghan population to provide themselves with adequate food. We hope that representatives of the Afghan delegation will share, as they say, first-hand information on the current situation in the humanitarian sphere today.

We are convinced that the time has come to mobilize the resources of the world community to provide Kabul with the effective financial, economic and humanitarian assistance, including with a view to prevent a humanitarian crisis and stop migration flows. Organized on October 12 this year. the emergency G20 summit on Afghanistan demonstrated the coincidence or similarity of positions of the regional and the key non-regional players on this issue. We expect responsible behavior towards Afghan citizens from those Western countries whose 20-year presence in the country has led to the current difficult situation in the humanitarian sphere and has in no way contributed to strengthening the industrial and economic base of Afghanistan. Moreover, it is becoming very important for the West to provide not only humanitarian aid in its traditional form, but also to help ensure the payment of wages to such socially significant categories of the Afghan population as teachers, doctors, etc.

We are convinced that the United Nations should play a central coordinating role in consolidating international efforts in the Afghan sector. I hope that the collective appeal of the countries participating in the Moscow format to the leadership and all members of the UN, promulgated at the end of today's meeting, will be heard, and in the foreseeable future we will receive a corresponding positive reaction.

In the coming days, we plan to send another batch of humanitarian aid to the friendly Afghan people.

Joint Statement of the Participants in the Moscow Format Consultations on Afghanistan

(Moscow, 20 October 2021)

1.     On 20th October, 2021, the third meeting of the Moscow Format Consultations on Afghanistan was held with the participation of special representatives or senior officials from Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, as well as a high-level delegation of the interim Afghan government.

2.     The sides reiterated their respect to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Afghanistan, and reaffirmed their commitment to Afghanistan as a peaceful, indivisible, independent, economically developing State, free of terrorism and drug-related crime and respecting the basic norms in the human rights area.

3.     It was stated that further practical engagement with Afghanistan needed to take into account the new reality, that is the Taliban coming to power in the country, irrespective of the official recognition of the new Afghan government by the international community.

4.     Participating countries call on the current Afghan leadership to take further steps to improve governance and to form a truly inclusive government that adequately reflects the interests of all major ethno-political forces in the country. This will be a fundamental prerequisite for the completion of the national reconciliation process in Afghanistan.

5.     Participating countries call on the current Afghan leadership to practice moderate and sound internal and external policies, adopt friendly policies towards neighbors of Afghanistan, achieve the shared goals of durable peace, security, safety, and long-term prosperity, and respect the rights of ethnic groups, women and children.

6.     Being concerned about the activities of proscribed terrorist organizations in Afghanistan, the sides reaffirmed their willingness to continue to promote security in Afghanistan to contribute to regional stability.

7.     The participating countries were pleased to note the reaffirmation by the interim Afghan government of its previous commitments to prevent use of the Afghan territory against its neighbours, other States in the region and the rest of the world.

8.     Expressing deep concern over the deteriorating economic and humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, the sides expressed confidence in the need for the international community to mobilize consolidated efforts to provide urgent humanitarian and economic assistance to the Afghan people in the post-conflict reconstruction of the country.

9.     In this context, the sides have proposed to launch a collective initiative to convene a broad-based international donor conference under the auspices of the United Nations as soon as possible, certainly with the understanding that the core burden of post-conflict economic and financial reconstruction and development of Afghanistan must be shouldered by troop-based actors which were in the country for the past 20 years.