By: The Kabul Times
KABUL: The two-day Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process, which aims to promote durable peace and stability in Afghanistan, was inaugurated in Istanbul on Monday. The theme of the conference was ‘Peace, Partnership and Prosperity’.During the meeting, Turkey handed over its co-chairmanship, which it assumed in 2017 at the 7th Ministerial Conference in Baku, to Tajikistan.The Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process — is a regional initiative of Afghanistan and Turkey, which was launched in 2011. It has two chairs with Afghanistan as the permanent chair, and a co-chair from among the member states that shifts each year. The first ministerial conference of the Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process was in 2011Addressing the session, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani said the Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process with the initiative of President Erdogan has proven its importance over the time, adding Turkey has played key role in Afghansitan security since 2001 and friendships between the two countries are deep, wide, lasting and without time limit.The president said Afghan products were reaching new markets, adding peanut was exporting to China, fruits and vegetables to India, dry fruits to Canada, Finland, Germany, UK and other countries, adding regional cooperation would be key to stability.According to President, recent efforts for regional transit of the energy has also proven the centrality of the process, adding ‘we are one step away to transit energy from central to south Asia.“TAPI pipeline has already reached to Herat province and the construction works are underway inside Afghansitan,” the president said.The president went on thanking US president’s recent trip to Afghanistan and his strategy for south Asia as well as his support of the Afghan-led and owned peace talks. “US has been a key ally for Afghanistan. Partnerships based on mutual interest and respect have enabled us to move forward with confidence in our commitments to problem solving and confronting threats.”“I thank all of the participating countries who make this platform robust and relevant: Azerbaijan, China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and the United Arab Emirates,” the president said, adding ‘Afghanistan’s vision of becoming an Asian Roundabout, to our mutual benefit, largely depends on you: your country’s development priorities, as well as the utilization of your country’s assets, capabilities and experiences.’“Over the past five years, our combined efforts have shown that regional connectivity meets the test of desirability, feasibility and credibility, thereby beneficial to us all,” he added, saying From the Tokyo Conference of 2002 to the Geneva Conference of 2018, your governments have provided us support that has had a transformative impact on the lives of Afghans. On behalf of my fellow citizens, particularly our children, youth, women and the poor, I thank your citizens, parliaments, governments, and in particular your taxpayers, for the scale and scope of the assistance.“To regional and international organizations who are our supportive partners, I thank you for the critical role you play in facilitating regional cooperation, by providing us platforms to agree to rules, policies and processes, as well as the best ways of investing in infrastructure, human capital, governance and rule of law. Thanks to condition-based agreements, we are creating a performance-based culture of governance, as demonstrated by successfully completing of our IMF agreement. I thank the EU for its state-building compact, an outcome-based approach that allows to design reforms on the basis of verifiable benchmarks.”The president concluded his remarks with remembering the spirit of a great humanitarian and dear friend of Afghanistan, Dr. Tetsu Nakamura, who was tragically assassinated by terrorists last week.“They say the greatest love is that of a stranger. Dr. Nakamura exemplified the spirit of humanity, and demonstrated what an individual with vision and commitment can do. He single-handedly transformed the lives of nearly a million Afghans by harnessing our rapid waters to make our deserts bloom. We pay tribute to his leadership, humanity, and dedication. And we express deepest sorrow to his family, the people and government of Japan, and also to the people of Nangarhar, who counted him as one of their own.The event as be attended by the foreign ministers and high-ranking representatives of 15 participating countries, 16 supporting countries and 12 supporting regional and international organizations of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process, according to a statement. The meeting was also attended by Turkish President Recep Tayeb Erdogan.