XIII RISA Convention: “Afghanistan in the System of Regional Relations” Special Session

XIII RISA Convention: “Afghanistan in the System of Regional Relations” Special Session

15 October 2021

October 15th , MGIMO hosted a plenary meeting of the special session entitled “Afghanistan in the System of Regional Relations” within the framework of the 13th RISA Convention. It was devoted to the prospects of regional development after the regime change in the country.

The MGIMO Vice-Rector and RISA Executive Director Artem Malgin delivered welcoming remarks, stressing the high level of expertise of the session’s participants.

The meeting was moderated by the Director of the Center of Euro-Asian Studies at IIS MGIMO University Ivan Safranchuk and the Head of the Rector’s Secretariat, lecturer at the Department of International Relations and Foreign Policy of Russia Khilola Ulugova-Kuzmina. Among the participants of the session were Russia’s Special Presidential Representative for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov, the Director of the Foreign Ministry’s Third CIS Department Alexander Sternik, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Uzbekistan Doniyor Kurbanov, the UN Special Representative for Afghanistan (1997–1999, 2001–2004) Lakhdar Brahimi, the Rector of Academy of Public Administration under the President of the Republic of Tajikistan Abdukhalil Gafurzoda, the Senior Research Fellow of the Islamabad Policy Research Institute and Deputy Ambassador of Pakistan to Afghanistan (2005–2009) Asif Durrani, the Distinguished Fellow at Observer Research Foundation and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of India to Afghanistan (2005–2008) Rakesh Sood, the Director of Institute for Iran-Eurasia Studies, Professor at University of Tehran and Ambassador Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Iran to Russia (2003–2019) Mehdi Sanaei, the Vice President of China Institute of International Studies (CIIS) Ying Rong, the Senior Research Fellow at IIS MGIMO University Andrey Kazantsev.

The discussion focused on the approaches of various countries to the settlement of humanitarian, political and economic crisis in Afghanistan, ensuring regional security as well as preventing drug trafficking and terrorist activities.

Zamir Kabulov noted that the current generation of the Taliban considerably differs from their predecessors, but it is hypocritical and unrealistic to demand that they observe the law in the European and international sense. Russia’s Presidential Representative also shared his expectations regarding the upcoming visit of the new Afghan authorities to Moscow. “We expect a frank talk with the Taliban on constructive solutions to the current crisis. Our main priorities are the prevention of terrorism and drug trafficking. We expect them to confirm that they do not have any intentions that threaten the interests and security of the neighboring states,” said Mr Kabulov.

Alexander Sternik stressed that international isolation of the new Afghan authorities and lack of financial resources can undermine counter-terrorist activities in the country. He believes that such terrorist groups as ISIS and the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (banned terrorist organizations in Russia) as well as foreign military presence are more relevant threats for regional stability and security than the Taliban (banned terrorist organization in Russia).

Lakhdar Brahimi said that the current generation of the Taliban considerably differs from its predecessors due to a broad popular support, which makes it impossible to ignore them in the international arena. Doniyor Kurbanov highlighted that Afghanistan has taken a crucial place in the foreign policy of Uzbekistan aimed at peaceful prosperity of the region, while Abdukhalil Gafurzoda drew the participants’ attention to the main concerns of the government of Tajikistan regarding the new regime in the neighboring country such as the lack of inclusion in the government and no gender equality, discrepancies between their action and Islamic and international law, as well as the fact that organizers of bloody terrorist attacks are present in the top leadership of the country.

Asif Durrani and Mehdi Sanaei agreed that the international community should provide the new Afghan regime with humanitarian and financial aid for the sake of the Afghan people. According to Ying Rong, China’s policy is driven by the aspiration to create an inclusive, peaceful and safe Afghanistan that the West failed to build.

The special session on Afghanistan also included an expert round table devoted to a detailed exchange of opinions between experts in the region.