No country can normally exist in isolation. Only fruitful cooperation with other countries can assure the development of a specific country and its population.
For example, Azerbaijan as a country on the main transit route has given a specific role in the withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan. Notably, NATO forces will completely leave Afghanistan by the end of next year. Part of cargo is planned to withdraw through Azerbaijan, Azerbaijan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Araz Azimov told reporters. He said that Azerbaijan had assured the transit of NATO cargo to Afghanistan since the beginning of the international operation, while NATO member countries as well as partner-states also had used the country’s transit capabilities. Azimov emphasized that Azerbaijan would render assistance to Afghanistan even after the completion of the international mission.
The Azeri and NATO officials have long discussed the issues linked to the troop pullout from Afghanistan. Officer-Coordinator for the South Caucasus William Lahu stated this at the winter session of the NATO International School in Azerbaijan.
Notably, some foreign media outlets presented the NATO official’s report as a sensation and interpreted as NATO’s desire to “deploy its forces in Azerbaijan”. Some experts even said that Azerbaijan was preparing a base for launching attacks on Iran as well as for other purposes. By deploying forces in Azerbaijan, the U.S. will get direct access to the Caspian Sea and consequently, to the Russian North Caucasus.
Baku has perceived such conclusions as another provocation against Azerbaijan. The Azeri Defence Ministry said William Lahu’s statement was mistakenly interpreted. Azerbaijan has no intention to provide its territory for redislocation of NATO forces. The Azeri authorities will continue to cooperate with NATO but at the same time, the country will not spoil its neighbourly relations with Russia and Iran.
In the past 10 years, Afghanistan has established good relations with the Central Asian states. But experts have always described relations between Kabul and Tashkent as frosty. The appointment of a new Afghan ambassador to Uzbekistan is a sign that Kabul is determined to promote relations with this important state in Central Asia.
At the ceremony of presentation of credentials to Islam Karimov, Afghanistan’s ambassador to Uzbekistan Muhammad Sadek Daudzai said that Afghanistan would promote its relations with Uzbekistan. Afghanistan attaches great significance to deepening mutually beneficial ties with Uzbekistan the involvement of which is crucial in finding constructive and justified solutions to the problem in the region, he said.
He also emphasized that Afghanistan is very grateful to Uzbekistan for rendering assistance to rebuild the country’s economy.
It’s worth mentioning that Uzbekistan is playing an important role in rebuilding Afghanistan. With the assistance of Uzbekistan, the Hairaton-Mazar-i-Sharif railway was constructed and several infrastructure projects were implemented. Uzbekistan supplies electricity to northern Afghanistan as well as Kabul. Moreover, Uzbekistan is the largest transit corridor that links Afghanistan with the outside world through the countries in Central Asia and Russia. In 2011, about 2.5 million tons of cargo was transported to Afghanistan through Uzbekistan, while in 2012, this figure doubled.
According to Uzbek statistics service, in 2011, the volume of trade between Uzbekistan and Afghanistan grew by 22 % and reached up to $798.6 million.
Historical links between Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, centuries old traditions of mutual-assistance and neighbourly relations are a reliable basis for a contemporary dialogue in all mutually interested areas, the ambassador said.
Most likely, Uzbekistan will play an important role in the NATO troop pullout from Afghanistan. According to The Times, British Secretary of Defence Philip Hammond said that Britain was ready to sell military equipment as well as weapons to Uzbekistan as it withdraws its forces from Afghanistan. He did not specify what military equipment would be sold, but The Times believes that this could be armoured vehicles that will be very useful in defending Uzbekistan’s border with Afghanistan after the withdrawal of the NATO contingent.
The NATO countries, which will gradually withdraw their forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, are trying to establish cooperation with neighboring countries to assure safe pullout. This is a natural process because efforts by other countries should help normalize the political and economic situation in Afghanistan. Only cooperation with other countries will pave the way for solving such complicated problems.