Statement by His Excellency Hamid Karzai, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, at the 2013 Euro-Asia Economic Forum

26 September 2013
XIAN, China

Secretary-General Zhang Deguang,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to join you here in Xi’an for the 2013 session of the Euro-Asia Economic Forum. I wish to thank the people and Government of China for hosting the Forum, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization for supporting it.
Over 2000 years ago, this ancient city saw the beginning of trade activities that connected Asia and Europe through dynamic and mutually beneficial exchange of goods and technologies of the time. Xi’an is truly an appropriate setting for this important forum committed to helping shape a new era of commercial exchange and economic cooperation between Europe and Asia.
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Globalization is not only resulting in greater world economic integration and interdependence, but also in the rise of the new economic power houses of China and India, and the fast growing economies in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The benefits of globalization in Eurasia can best be realized if we work together to translate the extraordinary potentials and strengths of our populations, resources and markets.

In order to achieve our aspirations for Eurasia as a driver of global economic growth in the 21st Century, there is need for equitable and coherent strategies for multilateral economic cooperation, trade and connectivity.

In line with the theme of this Forum -“From Concrete Collaborations to Mutual Booming”, I would like to share with you the opportunities and potentials of Afghanistan contributing to the modern day revival of the Silk Road, and the formation of a new Euro-Asia inland economic architecture.

By virtue of its location on the crossroads of Eurasia, Afghanistan is a natural land bridge for transit and commerce between east and west, and the rich markets of Central and South Asia. Afghanistan is well-positioned to contribute to promoting trade and transport links between European and Asian economic centers.

As you all know, for over three decades, external interference, conflict and terror destroyed Afghanistan’s transit and transportation infrastructures and capabilities. Today, those dark decades are behind us. We have taken great strides toward regaining Afghanistan’s central position for trade and exchange within the larger region.

We have rehabilitated our road and highway networks, constructed railway connections and expanded cross-border transportation infrastructures with the aim of facilitating transit and the flow of trade between regions. Commercial aircraft now crisscross Afghan airspace, shortening travel times across the continent. We are moving ahead with plans to build a natural gas pipeline that will carry Central Asian gas to the markets of India and Pakistan.

Afghanistan stands ready to help accelerate economic collaboration and growth in Eurasia and South Asia by facilitating the transfer of energy, rail and road transportation, communication, and trade development.

It is from this perspective that we endorse President Xi Jinping’s proposal for the development of a Silk Road Economic Belt. The renewal and promotion of the Silk Road, of which Afghanistan is a part, will not only unleash unprecedented opportunities for regional cooperation and integration, but will also contribute to global economic growth and security.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In addition to being ready to resume its historic role as one of Eurasia’s important trade passageways, Afghanistan offers exciting opportunities for investment and business development. We have vast unexploited natural resources including minerals, hydrocarbons and other materials that our neighbors and regional partners need to build and sustain their industrial economies.
I encourage business participants at this Forum to explore business opportunities in Afghanistan, and to follow the example of the Metallurgical Company of China and the China National Petroleum Corporation by investing in Afghanistan.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good neighborliness, trusting relations, mutual understanding, and constructive engagement are essential prerequisites for the achievement of shared goals of development, well-being, and prosperity in Eurasia and South Asia. In order to consolidate and expand multidimensional contacts with our neighbors and regional partners, we have acquired membership and observer status in regional organizations which facilitate cooperation and dialogue.

We are an active member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). We have expanded our role within the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) and the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC), and have observer Status with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

In addition, with the support of our regional and international partners, we have initiated the Heart of Asia process in order to build trust and partnership within our region.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We all acknowledge that terrorism not only inflicts great suffering in our societies, but also decelerates economic progress and development. Recent terrorist attacks in Peshawar (Pakistan) and Nairobi (Kenya) underscored the geographic scope of terrorist networks whereby no country is immune to their menace and violence.
Today, I invite you all to work towards a Euro-Asian partnership to confront extremism and terrorism with a shared determination to destroy their networks, sanctuaries, and sources of financing.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our presence here today is a testament to our collective will to create a better future for our peoples by fostering harmony and partnership between Asia and Europe. The two continents are increasingly becoming interdependent and their economies and security are closely intertwined. Partnership, cooperation, mutual respect for our values, territorial integrity and good will are the way forward.
In conclusion, I wish to thank the Chinese Government for making Xi’an the permanent venue of the Forum, thus connecting our rich past with the opportunities and potentials for a prosperous future. I also wish to acknowledge and commend Secretary-General Zhang Deguang and his team for promoting the values and mission of the Euro-Asia Forum, and for the excellent arrangements for this session.

Thank you.