0740 GMT March 22, 2018
Hamid Karzai: We hoped that with the arrival of the United States and its allies in 2001, and as a result of the assistance we got from the United Nations and neighboring states, peace would finally come to our country. At first, the situation actually, outside intervention, decreased or ceased altogether. We became full masters of our country and our life and gradually began to solve our problems. Afghanistan again became home to all Afghans, and we began the process of nation-building: We started creating state structures and drafting a new Constitution. However, later we witnessed renewed riots, which intensified every day, and it became clear that the presence of foreign forces is not a factor of security. Terrorism didn't go anywhere and it even increased leading to new destruction and death, sputniknews.com reported.
Today, we, the Afghan people, should think about ways out of the crisis, and this should be done our own way. Ensuring security is an issue that no one else can solve, and we must solve it in cooperation with neighboring countries and countries of the region, which are facing the same challenges and threats. We must develop a wide range of measures to end the crisis also through the convening of the Loya Jirga [All-Afghan Council of Elders — Sputnik], uniting all our people and come to a national consensus on this issue.
Hamid Karzai: When I was president, all important issues were discussed at Loya Jirga meetings. The Loya Jirga decided on issues like relations with Pakistan, the process of peaceful settlement in the country, the Constitution, a bilateral security treaty with the United States, negotiations with the Taliban, who are also our compatriots, and so on. I believed that people should participate in the decision-making [process] on these issues and engage in across-the-board nationwide consultations. After I stepped down as president, it became clear that, contrary to our expectations, the security treaty did not bring long-awaited peace and did not improve the security situation in the country. On the contrary, the threat of terrorism is growing, and we are confronted with Daesh, which is invading our country and threatening our population. Why did this happen? Why, despite the security treaty, we have no peace and our relations with our neighbors and countries in the region have deteriorated?
Moreover, someone is trying in every possible way to split the Afghan society. Who needs this? Who is behind this? If these attempts come from people who are inside the country, among us, then why do they do it? I want to get answers to these questions not only from the Afghan government, but also from the United States, which came to our country to fight terrorism and is going to expand its presence here. Why, despite the presence of international forces, is the process of national reconciliation now at risk? Who is hampering it? Is it Afghans themselves or some foreign forces who do not want to leave Afghanistan? I know that they are not Afghans.
I know that the Afghan people want peace and harmony, to see their country peaceful and prosperous.
Hamid Karzai: Russia had longstanding friendly ties with Afghanistan since the times of the czar, before the Soviet Union. We can say that our relations go back centuries. Formal relations between our two countries number three centuries, but relations between our people began developing even before that.
After the Soviet Union was established, our relations became closer and deeper. The USSR was one of Afghanistan's closest and strongest allies of Afghanistan at the time, but the invasion of Afghanistan was a mistake. This invasion caused resistance from the Afghan people and did serious damage to our relations, which actually led to their cessation.
The breakup of the Soviet Union and the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan, opened a new chapter in our relations, characterized by armed conflicts and bloodshed and ending with the formation of a new government in 2001. After coming to power, I did everything to revive relations with Russia, and we succeeded.
Despite the presence of NATO and US forces, which compete with Russia in many fields, we maintained our cooperation, including in the fight against extremism and terrorism, and this cooperation was both at the state level and at the level of contacts between peoples. Our two countries have very close ties now. Russia as a neighboring country, with which we have long historical ties and traditionally friendly relations, can contribute to the peace process, and we believe that friendship with Russia will become an important factor of stability and sustainable development of our country. Relations with Russia are of vital importance for us, and no matter what government we have here in Afghanistan, it must preserve, develop and strengthen these relations.