President Vladimir Putin: After signing today the protocol on becoming a member of the Central Asian Cooperation Organisation, Russia is taking part for the first time in a meeting of its highest body. But we are not beginning this interaction and joint work from nothing, from a blank page. We have done quite a lot on the road to practical participation in this organisation’s activities. Furthermore, Russia is bound to the Central Asian countries not just by border policy and geographical proximity, but also by a shared history. We treasure our good relations with the countries of this region and value highly the cooperation that we have in so many different areas both at bilateral level and within the framework of the existing regional organisations. We certainly see good prospects for work together within the framework of the Central Asian Cooperation Organisation too.
I would also like to stress that the decision to participate in this organisation’s work was dictated, of course, by our own national interests.
Russia seriously expects to gain from our close economic cooperation and from effective work together to counter the global and regional threats we face today. We are ready to become rapidly involved in team-work in areas such as economic integration, joint business and infrastructure projects, the fight against terrorism, extremism and drugs, and military-technical cooperation. During today’s session of the Council of Heads of State, we are ready to discuss Russia’s involvement in resolving systemic economic issues such as the creation of hydroelectricity, foodstuffs and transport consortiums.
We are well aware that stability and security in the region constitute the most solid foundation for the development of our countries and economies. This is all the more true now when the prosperous development of the entire Eurasian continent depends greatly on the situation in Central Asia. The key task for the members of this organisation is to join forces to fight international terrorism and extremism, to cut off their illegal financial flows, and also to prevent drug trafficking, smuggling of goods and people and illegal migration. It is my conviction that on these issues we must take a firm and consistent stand and establish the closest cooperation in priority areas. We support Uzbekistan’s proposed initiatives in this area. I am sure that the Central Asian Cooperation Organisation can become one of the main pillars of an effective system for ensuring stability and economic cooperation in the region, in coordination with other integration-oriented organisations such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation and the Eurasian Economic Community.
I would like to say a few words regarding one common problem. We can all feel tangibly how internal instability in Afghanistan is having a negative effect on the general situation in the region. I am pleased, therefore, to see the delegation from Afghanistan here today. I want to stress that Russia supports continued, vigorous, international effort to find solutions to the problems that Afghanistan has faced over these past years. I believe that the United Nations should continue to act as principal coordinator in this respect. I would like to take this opportunity to say that Russia welcomes the election that has just taken place in Afghanistan. We consider it an important step towards rebuilding Afghan statehood and forming state power institutions founded on democratic principles. At the same time, however, we consider that there is still much to be done to stabilise Afghanistan, and the main thing is to take into account the interests of all the different political forces and ethnic groups in the country.
In conclusion I would like to say once more that we value highly the cooperation we have today between Russia and the Central Asian countries, and we would like to strengthen it further. We all share the common goal of ensuring stability and security and bringing prosperity to our peoples.
Thank you very much.