Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message to the High-level International Conference on Central and South Asia: Regional Connectivity, in Tashkent today:
I am honoured to address this conference on regional connectivity — and I thank President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and the Government of Uzbekistan for this initiative.
Connectivity is central to trade, economic growth and sustainable development. But connectivity is not just about economics. It drives regional cooperation and encourages friendly relations among neighbours, near and far.
Enhanced connectivity that is environmentally sustainable and based on the rule of law can contribute to building long-term peace, stability and prosperity in Central and South Asia. This is crucial now more than ever.
The countries of Central and South Asia can only fully benefit from potential opportunities if the region at large is at peace. This places an even higher premium on the importance of active and collective engagement in support of Afghanistan’s peace and security.
Let’s work together to ensure that the potential dividends of peace are well enough understood by all so that the promise of connectivity itself becomes a counter-balance to the threat of further deterioration in Afghanistan.
Today’s conference is an important step in that direction. The United Nations stands ready to support your efforts to strengthen interconnectedness in the region for the benefit of all.
I wish you a fruitful discussion. Thank you.