BRUSSELS – Kazakhstan will extend until 2022 a program that provides college education to young Afghans and will continue to give technical and humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, Kazakh Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov announced Wednesday in Brussels.
“Along with the rest of the international community, Kazakhstan is committed to sustainable and secure development in Afghanistan,” Idrissov told the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan, at which delegates from around the world gathered to offer their financial and political support to the war-torn Central Asian country.
Idrissov said he was “convinced that the revival of Afghanistan will have a great positive effect on the situation of our region.”
“The international community and the UN must continue providing Kabul with comprehensive support and assistance” throughout the rest of the so-called “decade of transformation” until 2024, he added.
Kazakhstan’s top diplomat recalled that his country provides technical assistance and humanitarian aid to Afghanistan in the framework of bilateral agreements and multilateral forums.
He stressed that the implementation of projects in Afghanistan is one of the priorities of KazAID – the Kazakh agency for international aid and development – that has worked with other countries in projects to strengthen economic independence and the rights of Afghan women.
“Every year, Afghanistan receives from Kazakhstan tons of humanitarian cargo, including food products, oil, lubricants, and equipment from Kazakhstan,” he said.
Kazakhstan has so far provided Afghanistan 20,000 tons of food products valued at some $20 million, he said.
Idrissov also noted that Kazakhstan has implemented a “joint action plan” for Afghanistan that has provided more than $2 million for the construction of a school, a hospital and roads, and $1.5 million to build four new bridges.
“Taking into account the importance of investing in human capital” and at the initiative of the President of Kazakhstan (Nursultan Nazarbayev), about 1,000 young Afghans began receiving an education at Kazakh universities in 2010 in areas such as medicine, agriculture and engineering,” he said.
With a total cost of $50 million, Idrissov said his country is now committed to expanding the educational program “until 2022.”
Moreover, in line with the goal of “building a State led by Afghans,” Idrissov said that Afghanistan “must continue reforms to transform the country into a stable and democratic nation.”
“Today and in the future the key to stabilizing Afghanistan is genuine regional cooperation,” he said, and vowed that Kazakhstan would “support initiatives focused on strengthening connectivity in the region.”
He recalled that the Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran railway was launched in 2014 and that the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan section is to be completed this year.
The implementation of this and other similar projects, “demonstrates the potential of Afghanistan as a gateway between Central and South Asia,” Idrissov said.