Full Transcript of H.E. President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani’s Speech
Ground Breaking Ceremony of TAPI Natural Gas Pipeline Project
December 13th, 2015
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
President of Turkmenistan, dear brother, Vice President of India, Prime Minister of Pakistan, heads of delegations, members of the Turkmenistan cabinet, ladies and gentlemen!
Today, we are witnessing a truly historic event. Why is it historic?
First, because we are overcoming the history of doubt and skepticism. For decades, there has been talk of this project; today, we are showing that we are determined to make our vision a reality.
Second, it is a historic because it shows that Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India will be renewing ties that have bound us together for several millennia but due to the event of the Soviet Union were ruptured.
Third, it is historic because it shows that the positive neutrality policy that has been adopted by Turkmenistan is creating the conditions for good neighborly relations among all of us; Turkmenistan is unique in that it is created positive relations with every single one of its neighbors and we in Afghanistan are particularly privileged that we are such a good neighbor. And we want to congratulate you on this occasion again on the 20th year anniversary of Turkmenistan’s neutrality.
It is also historic because the Paris agreement on the climate has just been concluded and this project will ensure that Afghanistan, Pakistan and India will all have a positive carbon footprint. Congratulations on moving the first goal point!
My second point is advantages of cooperation. We live in a part of the world where rules of the game until now have not been in place for sovereign states to cooperate together; some in the past saw inference or misery in one country as an advantage; today all of us are committing to a stable and prosperous region, not just stable and prosperous countries. Our entire region will now benefit from the advantages of cooperation because our economies will move much more together, much faster, much more rapidly and in a much more integrated way if we cooperate. Key deficits in the energy sector will be met through this cooperation but what we welcome particularly that TAPI today will be the harbinger of much greater cooperation between Central Asia and South Asia.
Today, we are truly marking a new history of cooperation between Central Asia and South Asia, not as two separate regions, but as one economically integrated continent and this will be a harbinger of Asian continental integration.
My third point is that TAPI is the beginning of a cluster approach to infrastructure. First, comes the gas pipeline but the discussions that we have had among four of us have resulted in agreement that TAPI will be accompanied by a fiber optic network as well. This will be the quickest way and the most reliable way from India to Pakistan to Afghanistan to Turkmenistan all the way to Europe and that is significant. In addition, later we will witness another historic first which is transmission of electricity from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan which will run parallel to TAPI.
We in Afghanistan are committed to make the railways, highways and our canals and water management all brought together so what we see is not TAPI but a super highway of cooperation and coordination that will connect again South Asia and Central Asia together.
TAPI is a demonstration of our political will of all the leader and I would like to congratulate the government of Turkmenistan, the government of Pakistan and the government of India for making sure that political leadership is not only the vision but the commitment to make the vision a reality. Every step of the way this political commitment is going to manifest itself in making sure that if there are any obstacles technically, they are going to be resolved through political will. We have demonstrated in the past year that when we work together and we work jointly there is no obstacle that we cannot overcome and this political will is a message to our people, to the region and to the world that we are ready to transform the lives of our people. The transformational impact of this project is going to be very substantial. The first dividend of this project is a commitment to security, stability and cooperation in the region.
Afghanistan, which has suffered long from a variety of drivers of conflict, though this project sends a clear signal that we are ready for a new dawn, a dawn of cooperation, a dawn of working together where mutual benefits are going to define the rules of the game, not mutual disadvantages and negative competitions. There will be significant impact on the lives of people in Pakistan and India because natural gas is a key ingredient and it is not just in its natural form but the transformational impact of natural gas on all aspects of our lives is immense. It will also have an immense impact on the construction industry; building this pipeline is going to require an immense set of investments in related set of industries; it creates jobs in varieties of ways and it also provides the grounds for cooperation and joint ventures among many firms and entities. The impact on a series of our provinces in Afghanistan will have national impact as well as regional and hopefully global impact.
At the end, let me conclude with a series of congratulations and thanks again. First, congratulations again Mr. President for the 20th year anniversary of Turkmenistan’s declaration of neutrality. The vision that brought that commitment has paid off enormously for the people of Turkmenistan but it has not only paid off for the people of Turkmenistan; it has paid off for all of us. Many many happy anniversary and many returns.
I would also like to thank the people of Turkmenistan for enormous welcome that they have shown to us, your guests and your partners. I would also like to thank the people of Mary for turning out. The welcome, when you see thousands of the citizens of the city greeting their guests, it is enormously moving; it is also my great pleasure to thank the children of Mary; there is nothing more moving, Mr. President, to be greeted when you descend from the airplane by two beautiful children coming to embrace you; so children of Mary a very very big thank you.
I would also like to join you to thank the Asian Development Bank for its immense technical work over the years and for its strategic patience; many a year, many a month, they faced the challenge of naysayers including those on their board that said this is a (unintelligible) dream, do no follow it; so I would like to thank those people who have stayed during these 14 years with the vision and have now brought it to the stage of realization. The government of Japan that has been a friend of all of us, I also would like to stay a special thank you as well as to all others; but my largest thanks go to my fellow leaders, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, the President of Turkmenistan and the Vice President of India for today making a decision that we are not only are willing to overcome the history of the past but to create new history. Long live regional cooperation and our mutual friendship.