Saturday, September 29, 2012

Afghanistan: Opium crop harming neighbours and should be eradicated, Kyrgyz Speaker tells UN

Speaker of Parliament of Kyrgyzstan Asylbek Jeenbekov addresses General Assembly. UN Photo/J Carrier

UN 28 September 2012 – Noting that Afghanistan’s production of opium has led to use of the drug in neighbouring countries, the Speaker of the Parliament of Kyrgyzstan, Asylbek Jeenbekov, told the United Nations General Assembly that the deadly crop needs to be destroyed.

He called on the international community to give technical, economic and other help to Afghanistan and its neighbours, of which Kyrgyzstan is one, so that they might stem an opium trade that he said had spawned corruption, eroded state systems, and led to crime.

In saying the United Nations should be on the frontlines of those efforts, Mr. Jeenbekov also expressed a wider concern over the situation in Afghanistan, citing an emergence of extremist and terrorist groups there.

Kyrgyzstan, he said in his remarks to the Assembly’s General Debate at UN Headquarters in New York on Thursday, helps deliver supplies to Afghanistan through its cargo transit centre at the Manas International Airport, and neighbouring countries had worked to foster investment, trade and communications ties with the country.

Mr. Jeenbekov also urged the international community to do its best to rehabilitate Afghanistan economically, noting that his country was doing its part by expanding economic and trade ties with it, in addition to being poised to begin exporting electricity.

But, he said, NATO and other forces partnering with Afghanistan should bring their work to fruition so that it can take responsibility for its own security and stability.

The Kyrgyz Speaker acknowledged that global financial institutions had aided the region’s developing states, but said the countries still grappled with high foreign debt and high transport costs. This situation also inhibited their ability to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and he called for UN support for his country’s debt to be forgiven to enable it to press ahead with sustainable development projects.

Echoing other speakers from predominantly Muslim countries, Speaker Jeenbekov condemned an anti-Islam video which recently caused violent protests in reaction in various cities around the world, highlighting how the world was changing as information travelled faster, leading to local events having an impact on global processes.

He also rejected the violence and attacks on foreign diplomats that had accompanied the recent protests over the video.

Other topics addressed by Mr. Jeenbekov included UN reform, the situation in Syria and his own country’s efforts to implement democratic governance and eradicate corruption.

The Kyrgyz Speaker is one of scores of world leaders and other high-level officials presenting their views and comments on issues of individual, national and international relevance at the Assembly’s General Debate, which ends Oct. 1.