December 01, 2010
The 7th Summit of the heads of state and government of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe opened this morning in Kazakh Capital, Astana.
High level delegations from about 61 countries, representatives from the international and regional organizations as well as heads of state and governments from Partners for Co-operation to the OSCE are attending the two day conference held in the Palace of Independence.
The meeting began with an opening address by the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev and followed by statements by other leaders of the world. President Hamid Karzai was one of the early speakers who addressed the summit on important issues of regional and global importance.
President Karzai began by thanking the organization for assigning Afghanistan a high priority on the OSCE’s agenda over the past one year and thanked the organization for its contributions and help to Afghanistan especially in areas of sending observers to Afghanistan’s elections, fighting against organized crimes and helping build the capacity of our border security forces.
In reference to the situation in Afghanistan, the President said, “ After three decades of war and destruction, Afghanistan has entered a new phase of its political, social and economic life where most of the OSCE member states are supporting us in our efforts for reconstruction, counter terrorism and providing security for our people. Afghanistan has achieved considerable progress in developing a vibrant economy, strengthened state institutions and rebuilding economic infrastructure, empowering institutions of public service particularly health, education and promotion of rule of law.”
On the issue of Afghanistan taking over responsibility for its own security as agreed in a the last month’s NATO summit in Lisbon, the President underscored that the agreement didn’t mean the end of partnership with the international community. He said, “we agreed with NATO and ISAF member states that the process of transition to Afghanistan should be completed by the end of 2014. The agreement with the international community to hand over responsibility to Afghans does not mean an end to our continued cooperation with NATO.”
The President also spoke of the achievements Afghanistan has gained over the past few years especially in terms of reducing drug cultivation. The President said the three decades of war and instability had resulted in the destruction of Afghanistan’s state institutions and economy thus contributed to the growth in the production and trafficking of narcotics. But, he however, emphasized that Afghanistan has made considerable progress toward this end, as shown in the UN survey.
A study carried out by the UNODC indicates over forty percent drop this year in production of narcotics in Afghanistan.
The President stated, “It is widely recognized that the present threats and challenges we are facing in Afghanistan are to a great extent symptoms of a much larger malady, widespread in our region.”
President Karzai underscored that an effective fight against the menace of narcotics therefore requires a cohesive international approach to effectively deal with the international drug trafficking, smuggling of precursors, supply and demand networks.
In the other part of his speech, the President said regional transit and trade was another key area that we must continue to focus on. He said we believe that a more vibrant transit and trade environment in our region not only contributes to the economic development of the entire region, but also serves as an important tool for regional integration.
The OSCE Summit is the first since the Istanbul Summit in 1999 and the first ever held in Central Asia. More statements and the plenary sessions will continue until 2 December.