Azerbaijan, Baku, 18 April /corr. Trend D.Khatinoglu / Exclusive interview of Trend Persian Service with Rangin Dadfar Spanta, the Foreign Minister of Afghanistan.
Question: What is your estimation of the relations between Afghanistan and Azerbaijan, and what are your views on the prospects of co-operation between the two countries?
Answer: There are favorable relations between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Republic of Azerbaijan, and I believe that these relations will also be developing in future for the interests of the peoples of the two countries, taking into consideration the ancient historical ties between the two Muslim countries.
When Azerbaijan declared its independence after collapse of the former USSR on 30 August 1991, Afghanistan was one of the first countries recognizing Azerbaijan's independence. The relations between the two countries have been established at the level of accredited ambassadors.
During his visit to Kabul in 2007, Azerbaijan's Ambassador to Pakistan said that his country is willing to open a diplomatic representation in Afghanistan. Should it is realized, the co-operation will be useful and efficient enough to expand and strengthen the relations between the two countries.
The Government and people of Afghanistan support Azerbaijan's efforts in settling the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Afghanistan supported Azerbaijan's position in all events and meetings being organized by the UN in this regard. In its turn, Azerbaijan, in co-operation with the international community and the Afghan people, participated in joint fighting against international terrorism and sent more than 30 military people to our country within peacekeeping forces.
A while ago, the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, Elmar Mammadyarov, said that Azerbaijan made $150,000 contribution to Afghanistan within the ECO.
Appraising Azerbaijan's geo-political importance in Caucasus and its experience in various spheres, the Government of Afghanistan is willing to develop trade and economic relations as well as wishes state and private companies, business people of Azerbaijan to participate actively in re-establishing Afghanistan.
Question: The NATO summit in Bucharest made a decision to increase the number of foreign peacekeepers in Afghanistan by nearly 2,000. What is Kabul's position on this issue, and is the Government satisfied with the continuation of the NATO peacekeeping mission?
Answer: The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan needs durable support of the international community, including NATO, to bring its forces to the necessary level, ensure successful process of peace establishment in the Country and stability in the national security. We support the decision to send 2,000 peacekeepers more to Afghanistan to accelerate this process. However, it is more important to intensify accelerate training and equipment of our security forces so that they could have much opportunities and gain full control over combating terrorism. The universal strategy covering military and civil spheres represents importance for combating terrorism and fortunately, this issue was approved and supported at NATO Bucharest summit
Question: What is Kabul's position on the participation of Muslim countries in NATO peacekeeping forces? What is Afghan people's attitude towards them as compared to peacekeepers from non-Muslim countries?
Answer: Afghanistan is located on the top front of combating terrorism, which is considered as a serious regional and international problem. We consider necessary the support from the international community, which also includes Islamic world, their co-operation with the Afghan forces to take victory over terrorism and ensure security. Currently the forces of the two Muslim countries, Turkey and United Arab Emirates, serve in Afghanistan. We wish the Muslim countries to take an active part in fighting against terrorism in Afghanistan, re-establishing and developing the country and training the security forces of our country. The Paris conference will be a favorable event for fraternal and Muslim countries to gain more opportunities to assist Afghanistan in its development.
Question: Afghanistan acts as a transit county for drug trafficking to Iran, Azerbaijan, Russia, and onwards to Europe. What measures are being taken to prevent that?
Answer: The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan considers the drug issue a serious national and international problem and regards it as part of priorities of its security and socio-economic program. With this respect we take a range of measures, including the establishment of the Ministry of Drug Enforcement, development of a relevant bill, approval of a new National Strategy, establishment of the Police Academy and special courts, as well as signing of agreements on mutual cooperation with the United States, the People's Republic of China, Iran and Tajikistan in the field of drug enforcement. Adequate documents are being designed in close cooperation with Russia and Kazakhstan which will be signed in near future.
We expect the countries in the region to cooperate seriously with the Afghan police in this field. There is a need to develop more perfect strategy for drug enforcement. The national strategy includes annihilating drug plantings through and cultivating agricultural crops, strengthening of law-enforcement bodies, and particularly, preventing drug trafficking. Along with terrorism, drugs also pose a threat to the region and international community. Therefore, both regional and international cooperation are needed in this field.
Question: Recent media reports urge existence of confrontation between the Islamic and Christian Worlds. What measures should be taken to prevent equitation of Islam with terrorism?
Answer: In our opinion, there is no confrontation between the Islamic and Christian Worlds. However, some radical forces of both sides use religion to achieve their own goals and to raise inter-religious hostility.
Islam has nothing to do with terrorism. Islam is the religion of peace and security, calling people to peaceful and fraternal coexistence. Some radical forces want to connect their crimes with the Islamic religion. However, we together with intelligentsia in Afghanistan proved that the religion of Islam has nothing to do with terrorism acts, storage and smuggling of drugs.
Today's Afghanistan is the centre of inter-religious cooperation. We try to make Afghanistan the bridge between the Western democracy and Islamic countries.
At the Conference of Unity of Civilizations held in Madrid, we suggested creation of Intercultural Organization to bring closer different religions, languages and cultures and provide their peaceful coexistence. Afghanistan is ready to comprehensively cooperate for establishment of the organization.