On May 9, 2013 the President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov gave an interview to mass media on the occasion of Remembrance and Honors Day. He reflected on crucial issues for the country’s current and future progress making a particular focus on the problems related with Afghanistan.
Today our people are broadly celebrating the 68th Anniversary of the Victory gained in the World War II over fascism, May 9 – the Remembrance and Honors Day. These days all our compatriots by fulfilling their humane duties bow low and pay tribute to the sacred memory of those who gave their lives for the freedom of our Homeland and clear skies.
I consider it to be a profound honor to me to congratulate from the bottom of my heart the distinguished participants of the war on this great occasion who still remain with us and show a spiritual example to us.
At the same time, I wish a sound health and long life to all our compatriots and veterans who labored hard in the home front and in very tough conditions made enormous contribution to the victory.
Today as we celebrate this great holiday, we remember how the Victory gained in the World War II was costly to our people as to many other nations, how many lives were given and losses were suffered by them in this terrible bloodshed, as well as the lamentations of numerous orphans and unprecedented pains and sufferings of our nation. And we can say that if we recall those troublesome times that decided the fate and future of the entire humanity, then we come to believe time and again that this bloody war shall never be erased from the memory of our people and shall remain in their minds forever.
The years, and perhaps, the centuries will pass but this cruel and merciless war shall remain forever in historical memory of our nation, because there is not a single family in our country that was sidelined by this appalling bloodshed. Especially, in these days no matter what person residing in our country you will speak to, irrespective of his nationality, language and religion, and no matter that 68 years have passed since then, they surely will recall with big pain and suffering about this war, its endless irrecoverable wounds, and particularly, the fact that it served for difficult losses to his family, parents and forefathers or relatives.
At the moment, the elderly who stay with their children at each and every household in our country, do celebrate this date, first of all, being grateful for reaching these radiant days and living with pure dreams and aspirations so that the evil of war never comes back again. Certainly, to dream and intend is yet one thing, but at the same time one must struggle not to allow for such tragic events to happen again, and if it needs, one must channel all his strength and capacities along the path of achieving this goal. This is an acute requirement of life and the modern times.
Each and every sober-minded person learns a lesson from history, thoroughly comprehends the worth of peace and thinks about devastating consequences of war, as well as strives to seek some ways to neutralize various threats and dangers emerging today and imbibe such a mood into our children who didn’t witness and see such sufferings.
I am convinced that especially our distinguished veterans and people who suffered the pains and hardships of war and the years after war think in such a way.
As we fairly assess the claims and allegations such as «It was us who carried the toughest burden of war» voiced now in some states, it would be true to say that the burden and hardship of this war were equally shared by all republics which comprised the former USSR, their people and thousands of ordinary persons.
Speaking about this, I deem it worthwhile to give some figures.
Prior to war 6,5 million people lived in Uzbekistan, of which 1,5 million directly participated in the war battles, about 500 thousand of our compatriots passed away in this war and yet numerous of them went missing and returned home wounded and crippled, – and if we take those figures into account it won’t be difficult to imagine the scope of contribution made by our nation to the struggle against the evil of fascism.
I wish that no one should ever forget about these figures.
The life itself time and again confirms the following truth. That is to say, any person and any nation, who doesn’t know history, forgot it and doesn’t draw a conclusion from it, may go astray from its path and repeat the once made mistakes again.
The history teaches and warns. At the same time, the history advises us in choosing the right path. Who teaches us about what events took place in old times, what conclusions should be drawn from them, what mistakes shouldn’t be repeated and which path should be chosen to progress ahead? Certainly, it is history. Is there any other solid and influential power in the world? I don’t think so.
No matter how much time and no matter what periods shall pass, one must thoroughly comprehend the history and draw conclusions from it. Especially, I personally wish very much that today – on May 9 we shouldn’t ever forget this truth.
These very days when we recall time and again the difficult trials suffered by our people during the war, certainly the bygone events make us think and call upon us to draw the necessary conclusions.
It is not difficult to observe and comprehend what restless and rapidly changing times we live in today with growing confrontation and raising threats and dangers around us.
It is not a secret to anyone that the war which has been going on in Afghanistan for more than 30 years is the biggest threat to peace and stability today in our territory – the region of Central Asia.
For over the past period the new generation, who doesn’t know what peaceful life is all about, has grown up in this much-suffered land. The children who were born when the war has begun now turned 30-35 years old. Yet another new generation following the footsteps of this generation is growing up. What can they witness during their lifetime? They can witness nothing but war, killing people and bloodshed. Are the lives of this youth getting confined to it? Think for yourself, can we call it a life?
Let no one ever suffer such a tragedy befallen on the shoulders of the Afghan people who have seen much in their lifetime. One must be vigilant of this and draw a certain conclusion.
Today many international politicians assess the current situation in Afghanistan to be destitute, very difficult and fragile.
Simply speaking, the confronting parties are becoming ever convinced and many people are acknowledging the very fact that this bloody war ongoing for many years cannot be resolved by a military force.
If we pay attention, the entire international community is calling upon to put stop to this war as soon as possible and bring peace to the Afghan land. The situation went to such an extent that some parties who were viciously against tackling this crisis by political means are changing their minds.
Speaking otherwise, the only way to address this crisis is a political way, and no matter how it is difficult, the fact that the confronting forces should be brought to consensus through negotiations is getting ever confirmed. In this context, many people underscore that an opportunity emerges to establish an interim government, hold the elections and turn to tackling the acute problems faced by Afghanistan.
The President of Uzbekistan took floor in the NATO Summit in Bucharest in 2008 and spoke clearly about the resolute position of our country in this issue to the representatives of powerful states in the world.
The essence of this initiative was as follows: firstly, it has envisaged establishing the Contact Group «6+3» under auspices of the United Nations. This Contact Group meant to comprise of the United States, NATO and Russia, as well as the countries immediately neighboring Afghanistan. The utmost goal of the Contact Group «6+3» is to propose a ceasefire program to confronting sides in Afghanistan, to seek the consensus-based solutions to major problems and standoffs which devastate the country, to ensure security and offer the necessary guarantees taking into account the interests of all parties.
As we see, the practical and constructive proposals enunciated by Uzbekistan at that Summit are still actual and urgent today. On the contrary, they acquire yet more acute significance.
From of old we lived side by side as neighbors with the people of Afghanistan, used to give our daughters away to them in marriage and took their daughters in marriage. Residing on both banks of the Amudarya River we have always visited with one another. From this point of view, the Uzbek people, who take the Afghan tragedy closer than any other nation, absolutely differently let through their mind and heart the events unfolding in this land.
Those who stay far from this area of bloody standoff, unfortunately, comprehend and take them completely differently. For example, if there is a talk about the war against Vietnam led by the United States in 60s of the last century, the people in some faraway countries can recall those events by saying that Vietnam is in other part of the world and the events in this land have nothing to do with them. However, our fate with regard to the problem of Afghanistan is that we don’t have any right to think in such a way and to have such an approach, because the history will return to its course again and send trouble upon a person who doesn’t draw a conclusion. If we are going to think about the fate of our children and grandchildren, today we must seriously elaborate about this problem.
They say, the history tends to repeat itself. Calling upon the representatives of international community in the Bucharest Summit, on behalf of Uzbekistan it was clearly said to them to take into account that it was impossible to tackle the Afghan conflict by military means. It was resolutely said that if they tend to think about how to stop the war ongoing for over 35 years it could be tackled not by military, but only the political means.
Since then five years have passed. At that time the representatives of big states, European Union and other countries didn’t take into consideration the practical proposals and conclusions enunciated by the Leader of Uzbekistan as if by saying what he was talking about.
So, what is happening today? Those very politicians have to accept these proposals to be the most correct ones, i.e. all of them are concluding that indeed there isn’t a military way to tackle the Afghan conflict. They are becoming convinced by themselves that this war cannot be stopped by means of struggle, bloodshed and killing one another. Indeed, how one can endure this appalling massacre anymore?
I repeat once again – this crisis can be addressed only by a political dialogue. Unfortunately, at the moment some forces both inside and outside Afghanistan in pursuit of their interests are opposing the resolution of the crisis by political means.
I wonder how many more early lives can take such a dead-end situation, how many more children can it turn into orphans, the women into widows, or innocent people into wounded and crippled? However, as we see, there isn’t any practical action being taken in terms of tackling this issue. We speak about arrival of an entire new generation, but they are also turning into victims of this war. What this is all about? In this regard, we are speaking about the fate of an entire nation and one entire country.
Before, those who have arrogantly alleged that the war could be overcome only with war and the Afghan problem could be tackled only by force now went low-profile and gave up such arrogance. Now they have to speak that the war cannot be overcome by such a way. Almost a majority comes to believe that bombing the villages and towns, as well as setting fire aggravates the confrontation, and one cannot tackle anything by this way.
Anyone who preserved a bit of such qualities as conscience, wisdom and wit, kindness and humaneness is admitting this truth.
Unfortunately, it won’t be wrong at all to say that in Afghanistan and around it, as well as in places far away from this country, there are those who are interested in war and those who are at the helmet of it. They put their evil interests before the lives of thousands of people. And sadly enough, there are many those who try to achieve their sinister aims for the purpose of raking in enormous riches, large profits and billions of dollars.
One can speak a lot about it. However, it is obvious that those who make riches and possessions by such hideous ways won’t truly enjoy them.
I would like to underline once again that today various politicians and observers concertedly state that there is no way of establishing peace in Afghanistan other than achieving mutual accord and starting a mutual dialogue between confronting forces. Indeed, I am confident that if such forces are assembled in one venue irrespective of that how difficult it might be for them, as well as mutual anguish and animosity, and if they are told that the solution to the issue is in their hands and that there is no other way of stopping the war and if the world community, firstly, the major powers strictly hold on to this political position, then the solution to the problem will certainly be found.
But, unfortunately, the major powers are busy with pondering over how to divide the world among them, where and which region to exert their influence to and whom to control. Since, in my opinion, the stronger each and every big state becomes and the more potential it accumulates the more it thinks about itself, pursues its own interests. Such «games» used to be in the past, exist today and will be in the future. Our nation has experienced them a lot in its history.
Today in the example of Afghanistan we feel the influence of such political «games» again. By realizing that there is no military solution to the Afghan conflict, in this very difficult and threatening situation the NATO forces, leaders of the United States and European countries are planning to withdraw the ISAF forces mainly consisting of the American troops and those of European countries from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. Frankly speaking, the process has already begun. However, it hasn’t been enunciated, yet. The goal is not to cause concern among others and complete this work quietly, without any fuss to put it so.
Considering all of this, one question arises: what will be the situation in this country once the ISAF troops leave the territory of Afghanistan?
Quite unfortunately, this development will increase the danger of escalation of struggle between confronting forces, rise of terrorism, arms and drug trafficking, intensification of religious and inter-ethnic standoff, as well as recurrence of civil war.
Yet another pertinent question is how this intense situation will influence the neighboring countries? If we learn the lessons from history, this influence certainly will be negative, i.e. withdrawal of the coalition forces from Afghanistan without having situation fully addressed in this country will yet increase the tensions in Central Asia. As a result, it is obvious that danger will increase for the countries of the region.
I speak about it with great concern and yet disappointment. It is a reality of life and one cannot escape from it. Our people must know about it.
Responding to the question of what our approach and our policy should be with regard to this issue, I would say that in this perilous situation taking all necessary measures to sustain the national development and growth rates of the country, and most importantly, ensure peaceful and tranquil life of our people remains to be among priority tasks before us.
The policy of Uzbekistan towards Afghanistan is clear and open.
Uzbekistan stands for non-interference in Afghanistan’s internal affairs, non-participation in any military-political associations against Afghanistan, developing our ties and cooperation with this country only on bilateral basis, supporting the government chosen by the Afghan people.
Such an approach and position are endorsed by laws adopted in our country.
Pursuing this very policy envisages the following:
– not joining somebody’s «games»;
– living in peace and tranquility with neighbors;
– protecting peace and interests of the country.
All of the aforementioned is a demand of lessons of our recent history and extremely difficult time in which we are living now.
In 2012 we adopted the Law «On the Concept of Foreign Policy Activity of the Republic of Uzbekistan».
What is the significance of this law?
If we consider the war ongoing in Afghanistan for more than 30 years, during this period numerous confusing, contradictory and sometimes totally conflicting ideas were expressed concerning this problem. For instance, being far away beyond oceans one group of politicians made many promises by saying they were ready to establish peace in this land. Yet another group kept to a blunt talk and claims. And there are many of them. We can see in many examples that instead of extending a practical support and offering useful suggestions they were busy with various subversive acts and chattering. Thus, they have impeded the recovery of the situation. To be short, it is becoming more obvious that politicians of some countries launched a big «game» around the Afghan problem.
At first, it may seem that everybody wishes peace. However, if they are asked what they are doing in fact then they will have a hard time to come up with a clear answer. Various conferences, summits, numerous meetings and dialogues take place on this topic. Briefly speaking, anyone who considers himself to be a politician wants to gain authority by discoursing on this topic. God bless you, if you don’t have a concrete suggestion or practical program why you are distracting both yourself and others?
Doesn’t Afghanistan share a common border with Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan in the first place? Thus, the neighboring countries do know how extremely dangerous this problem is. Therefore, Uzbekistan has always been keen about this issue. The rest are staying aside as spectators. However, at whose doorstep this problem will remain as a scourge? On whose heads such light-minded «games» will shower the troubles? The Soviet army invaded Afghanistan in 1979 and left it in 1989. Should we or should we not draw appropriate conclusions from it? The people of our elder generation witnessed this history by ourselves. Numerous of our young men died in this war and many others were crippled. Well, who should be responsible for this?
In 1989 at the end of the war we saw the Soviet generals jumping off a tail car in military motorcade which crossed the Khayraton Bridge nearby Termez and arrogantly saluting as if they had returned with victory. Tell me what kind of victory was that? Those generals have evaporated into a thin air. Who has suffered from the dangerous situation which emerged in Afghanistan after they left – weren’t it Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan?
From this point of view, the ISAF forces are also about to leave Afghanistan soon. But someone far away wants to issue orders again, incite against Afghanistan while staying aside from the war.
Drawing a conclusion from all of this, what do we need? We need peace! I repeat that we need peace and accord with neighboring countries. Based on such a conclusion, we have legally defined the comprehensively well-founded principles of our foreign policy.
During the Soviet times we were forced to participate in the Afghan war. There is a saying in our people that goes as follows: «A blind man never loses his stick twice». Therefore, we will not join any kind of military blocks and act against Afghanistan. Such blocks come and go, complete their mission, while we will have to stay here and always live with the Afghan people side by side.
If we have interests and if the Afghan people have interests, we will establish only the bilateral relations and support such relations.
Our nation, which has a great life experience, well knows how to cherish good neighborly relations. Since, we have always maintained our national identity, kindness and mercy in relations with our neighbors. The appeal that we need peace must become a single and sole appeal of our entire nation. Uzbekistan needs peace and tranquil life. We don’t need any obstacle to our progress. We don’t ever want to get in trouble by joining a «game» orchestrated by some countries.
I underscore it once again that we will not join any military block. Whatever their naming is, if we look at their true essence, they turn out to be a military structure. We will not participate in such blocks.
I want to emphasize it time and again that we announced to the entire world that we have chosen the right path for us, i.e. conducting our policy based on learning a lesson and drawing a conclusion from history. There is not a single country in the world which has opposed our decision.
Certainly, there are those who don’t like such a policy. However, our policy fully complies with the United Nations Charter and resolutions, as well as the principles of humanism. Therefore, these forces cannot express their dislike openly.
Uzbekistan’s policy is to maintain peace and stability, conduct the policy with the nation’s future in mind and unite our society around these objectives.
What criteria and factors should we lean upon in implementing this policy?
The first and foremost factor that we should firmly lean upon in our endeavors is peace and tranquility.
We all know that whenever and wherever our people make supplications they, firstly, ask for peace and tranquility. They invoke it from the God Almighty. These two words lie in the blood, deep in the heart and bones of our people and turned into the meaning of their lives – a priceless value.
Our people accept the bright sun shining over their heads and this blue sky as a great happiness, take as a sign of peace, tranquility and prosperity. The people living under such a clear sky with feelings of gratefulness want to share this happiness and joy with others, enjoy the life with their families and friends. A human being is actually created for happiness. A human being is born to live a life deserved by a human being.
As we know, soon we will solemnly celebrate the 22nd Anniversary of Independence of our Homeland. Summing up the traversed path for over the past period, we can say that we have been achieving enormous growth rates in the development of Uzbekistan, securing results and goals which raise sympathy and draw attention of others. No one can deny it. Peace and tranquility, interethnic and inter-national accord, mutual kindness, courtesy and unity stand as major factors of all our accomplishments.
Indeed, the progress shall be there where peace reigns. The development and prosperity can never be consolidated in a group or a country torn by a mutual envy, incitement and discord. We must imbibe this truth deep into our consciousness and never forget its value.
The second issue is that peace will not come out of nowhere. Since, peace and tranquility stand as basis of our independent development and prosperous life, they must be fought for, and if necessary, the selflessness must be displayed along this path. The times of such unacceptable views as lazily waiting for something to be done for us by someone have long gone. Our today’s youth will never accept these narrow-minded views. Our sons and daughters, who realize who they are and whose descendants they are, master the modern science and professions, think totally different now.
The most important condition of peaceful and tranquil life, as well as stability is not to allow for negligence and carelessness, be always vigilant, alert and cautious and live drawing conclusions from both history and life. I wish such views and sentiments turn into a life goal of our each and every compatriot living in this dear Homeland.
It is easier for a vigilant man to foresee and prevent the danger emanating from elsewhere. If troubles are not taken care of in due time and if they are neglected it will be extremely difficult to overcome them. This truth was proven for many times during our several thousand years-long history.
If the danger is foreseen, then it can be dealt with, if not – there will be neither time nor means to fight against it.
In this regard, I want to draw your attention to yet another idea. If people living in our beautiful and unique land, above all, our youth – my children – will live and declare that «This Homeland is mine. Who will struggle to protect and defend it from dangers and troubles, if not me?», if this approach turns into the biggest appeal and life motto to our growing children, secures a deep place in their souls and minds, then tell me, can such a nation be turned off its path and can it ever be defeated?!
If each and every one of us will live in this difficult time with such a noble goal, first, we shall be inferior to no one, and second, the future and bright frontiers will certainly be ours.
The main conclusion from this ceremony and this holiday is that if we consider all the hardships, numerous sacrifices, losses and sufferings of our people and country, I am confident that our nation has never failed in front of such ordeals, upheavals and storms. Our nation has always commendably overcome all troubles, displayed bravery and steadfastness, as well as has never submitted to anyone, and I am convinced, it will never do so, and certainly will achieve its goals and objectives.
My wish is let God Almighty protect our country and people from evil eyes and envy! Let each family, each human being and our each and every compatriot be happy! Let peace and tranquility always accompany them!
Source: Embassy of Uzbekistan in London