Vladimir Putin: Mr Chairman,
Ladies and gentlemen,
First of all, I would like to extend cordial thanks to our host, the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Abishevich Nazarbayev, for organising this meeting. To a large extent it has been made possible by his initiative and energy and the growing authority of Kazakhstan.
Our conference is a unique event. For the first time in history, the heads of 16 countries from various parts of the Asian continent have gathered to discuss ways to strengthen security and stability in the region.
I am sure that what has brought us all to Almaty is the desire to ensure peace and stability, and to discuss the mechanisms that would help settle old conflicts and prevent the emergence of new ones.
To be honest, one must admit that there are many threats in the Asian region today. They include terrorism, growing extremist sentiments, the spread of weapons of mass destruction, transnational crime and drug trafficking.
Russia has long voiced its concern about these things, especially about international terrorism which – and this is something that must be stressed – has nothing in common with any particular religion or nationality or territory.
After the September 11 tragedy the world community made a firm commitment to uniting its efforts in the fight against that evil. I believe that there was no alternative to that choice.
Russia, together with its partners in the Collective Security Treaty, the Eurasian Economic Community and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, seeks to carry out practical measures to promote integration in Asia. We are consistently developing multilateral cooperation in the sphere of security and the fight against terrorism. We are actively cooperating in the social, economic and humanitarian spheres.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is due to hold its summit in St. Petersburg in a few days’ time. It will consider some fundamental matters of organisation, and lay down guidelines for practical work in the spheres of security and economic development. I would like to stress that the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is open to constructive interaction with other international associations and individual states.
Asia today sees the emergence of some promising regional structures. Russia supports efforts to enhance the role of the regional ASEAN Forum, and together with ASEAN countries continues work on the Pacific Harmony Declaration, a kind of code of conduct for the Asia-Pacific states.
Meanwhile the situation on the Asian continent still gives cause for concern: the Middle East is ablaze, explosions occur every day and civilians suffer. The explosive situation in relations between India and Pakistan cannot but give cause for deep concern, for it seriously destabilizes the situation in the whole South Asian subcontinent. I am convinced that we, the heads of authoritative states in the region, must use our best efforts in order to contribute to the solution of these problems together.
The neutralisation of the international terrorist hotbed in Afghanistan has greatly diminished the threat to the security of the Central Asian region. In this connection I would like to welcome the head of the Interim Administration of Afghanistan, Mr Karzai, who is present here and who carries out very important and very complicated work aimed at the rehabilitation of his country. However, further development of the situation in Central Asia would greatly depend on how the political development in Afghanistan proceeds.
In the meantime the situation in the south and south-east of the country, where the antiterrorist coalition has to continue military action against extremists, gives cause for concern. We hope that the Loya Jirga will become a real guarantor of the restoration of legitimate and effective government in the country and create conditions for the building of a stable political system and for social stability in Afghanistan.
As I said during Mr Karzai’s Moscow visit, Russia intends to continue making its practical contribution, to the extent that it is called for, to the common efforts of the international community in helping the social and economic resurgence of Afghanistan.
This summit may make a tangible contribution to mobilising efforts aimed at solving problems, creating a climate of confidence and mutual respect, and forming a common security space on the Asian continent.
It is necessary to continue to actively fight against the threat of terrorism using the whole range of means embedded in the United Nations Charter and international law. I am sure that common efforts are required for successfully fighting that global evil.
Speaking about the new global threats one should not forget about their root causes. They spring, among other things, from poverty and backwardness and the widening gap between the developed and developing countries.
We believe that many of these problems can be solved through economic cooperation. We need uniform rules of trade corresponding to WTO standards, an improved social sphere and a developed transport, energy and communications infrastructure. It is necessary to use the water resources of border regions rationally, to improve environmental protection and regulate the flow of migration.
The Almaty Statement and Declaration on elimination of terrorism and promoting dialogue between civilizations, to be adopted by this summit, are fundamental documents that identify the main areas of our efforts in shaping the new face of Asia. That is a guarantee of the success of our Conference.
The Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia will undoubtedly help us to compare our positions and form an ideology of joint actions. At the same time a large amount of challenging practical work must be carried out through many channels, ranging from bilateral cooperation to large-scale joint regional projects. Russia is ready to work jointly with the other members of the Conference to make Asian cooperation an absolute reality.