1. How does Russia support Afghanistan in solving its internal issues?
Traditionally, Russia as a major funder significantly contributes to the comprehensive development of Afghanistan. An important element is professional training of Afghan specialists at Russian universities and special educational institutions for further work in government agencies, as well as in police, counter-narcotic, and military units of Afghanistan.
State-financed scholarships in Russia for Afghans constantly increase at the request of the Afghan government. In this regard, more than 2 thousand Afghans have graduated from Russian universities since 2001. Russia as one of the leading countries renders assistance to law enforcement officers in higher education programs and short-term courses trainings. In 2017, 78 law enforcement officers were sent to short-term courses in Russia, and 113 policemen attended higher professional education trainings.
In November 2016, the International Agreement, aimed to provide Afghanistan with military assistance, entered into force. The Agreement establishes a legislative basis for Russian arms support for Afghan militants. Currently our agencies are working at several Afghan requests.
Also we have to highlight utter ineffectiveness of the decision to replace Russian weapons with Western ones conducted by the US and NATO administrations. This approach undermines Afghan national security forces’ fighting capacity, and damages its stabilization, which is our common goal.
2. How do you see the future of Russia-Afghanistan relations? What are the hurdles on the path to a successful resolution to the situation in Afghanistan?
We are from the same region, but also Russia and Afghanistan share long-lasting relationships. Our country was the first to recognize the independence of Afghanistan and to establish diplomatic relations in 1919.
Today we need a peaceful and stable environment in the country to establish full cooperation in social, economic, cultural, educational and other areas. There are many examples of how already signed contracts on a certain significant project actually have become frozen due to the lack of security assurance for foreign partners. Meanwhile, we have promising prospects for cultural, humanitarian, and educational cooperation, related to the full-scale resumption of the Russian Center for Science and Culture activities in Kabul, which is operating in a limited mode at the moment.
The situation in Afghanistan is estimated so far as an extremely tense without visible signs of improvement. The current Afghan authorities face with serious challenges, which are the urgent struggle against increasing terrorist and drug threats (by the way, this year the production of drugs beats all the records), the establishment of peaceful and international coexistence, efficiency improvement and combat against corruption in the public sector, and development of the national economy. All these challenges require a more dynamic and united response from the international community.
Russia is sincerely interested in achieving the soonest stable peace process in Afghanistan. We believe the country needs to launch the process of national reconciliation. In fact, Russia suggested holding consultations on Afghanistan in Moscow for precisely that purpose. We stand for equal interaction and approaches based on national interests of all regional countries. We are open for cooperation with all regional and non-regional parties, which are sincerely interested in ensuring stability in Afghanistan instead of pursuing their own goals there.
3. In the late 1990s you worked as Senior Political Adviser of the United Nations Mission. Tell us about your experience. What do you remember most about the diplomatic experience?
You know, from the one hand, work at the UN mission looks like a usual diplomatic practice. Despite the fact that Afghanistan, headed by Taliban, was recognized officially by three states only, our Mission, located in Islamabad, faced the challenge to restore peace and cooperation for the sake of the formation of the country as a stable state. So, as you can see, this target still remains unresolved. From the other hand, the Mission included the representatives of different states and nations, and that allowed expanding possibilities and actions for achieving common goals.
With regard to positive features of diplomatic work, I was attracted by the opportunity to work then in such countries as Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. In other words, never a dull moment, as you understand. Being the Ambassador to Afghanistan, I had to solve various political, economic and security issues, as well as to rebuild a building complex from scratch. I think my main achievement as the Ambassador was life and health of our people, who were working in the country.