18 June 2002
Secretary-General Credits Political Commitment of Tajik Parties, International Community, With Forging Peace in Tajikistan
NEW YORK, 17 June (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the International Conference in commemoration of the fifth anniversary of the signing of the General Peace Agreement in Tajikistan, delivered on his behalf by Ivo Petrov, Representative of the Secretary-General for Tajikistan:
I am pleased to convey my best wishes to this international conference, which has been convened to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the signing of the peace agreement for Tajikistan and to reflect on the lessons learned from the peace process.
Tajikistan's independence coincided with one of the most tragic chapters in its history -- a civil war in which more than 50,000 people perished, hundreds of thousands were displaced, and enormous material damage was inflicted on the country.
The most important factor in ending this conflict was the political commitment of President Rakhmonov and the leaders of the United Tajik Opposition to stop the devastation and to begin a process of national reconciliation. That commitment was carried out through more than three years of complex negotiations, and ultimately produced the politically difficult but necessary compromises that made possible the signing of the General Peace Agreement on 27 June 1997 in Moscow.
The international community played a key role in supporting the inter-Tajik peace process. From the very beginning, the parties themselves, as well as Tajikistan's neighbours and other concerned countries, recognized that the United Nations should be the leading international body facilitating the peace process and coordinating efforts to keep the conflict from spreading throughout the region and to alleviate the suffering of the victims. Eight observer countries -- the Russian Federation, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Islamic State of Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan -- generously hosted several rounds of talks and provided invaluable assistance to the Tajik parties in overcoming their differences. The peace process also brought to life a "contact group" of guarantor countries and international organizations, which turned out to be an effective mechanism in implementing the provisions of the peace agreement.
The commitment of the United Nations to Tajikistan did not end with the signing and implementation of the peace agreement. As the country continues to recover and build a foundation for future progress and prosperity, it will continue to need assistance from the international community. One manifestation of that support is the United Nations Tajikistan Office of Peace-building (UNTOP), which has worked closely with the Government of Tajikistan for the past two years in addressing a range of post-conflict challenges. I hope the United Nations and all international actors present in Tajikistan will be able to count on the continued support of the donor community and former guarantor countries.
In that spirit of partnership, I would like to congratulate the people and Government of Tajikistan, and all the participants in this conference, for their commitment to peace. And let us apply the lessons learned in Tajikistan in other countries and regions facing the formidable challenge of restoring peace and harmony to their societies.
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