The Heart Of Asia, Istanbul Process on Afghanistan commenced in November 2, 2011, aimed at resolving regional issues through increasing economic, security cooperation and political dialogue. The Istanbul Process accelerated cooperation among regional countries on trade, investment and infrastructure.
The Istanbul Process paid special attention to the maintenance of peace and stability in Afghanistan and the resolution of regional issues. For building trust among regional countries the Istanbul Process introduced two kinds of approaches on trade, investment and the enhancement of cooperation among regional countries on infrastructure.
Afghanistan can play important role geographically by connecting south Asia with central Asia, the Middle East and Europe. The Istanbul Process goal is to create a special agenda for improvement of regional cooperation. on the basis of this agenda, Afghanistan turns into the hub of regional cooperation and the countries of the Heart of Asia will play their indispensable role for the expansion of regional cooperation to maintain peace, stability in Afghanistan and the region.
One of the goals of Istanbul Process is to talk about those issues and opportunities which Afghanistan, it’s neighbors and regional countries faced with.
The Istanbul Process has 14 member countries, 17 supporting nations and 12 regional and international supporting organizations. The Afghan government tried to expand bilateral, multilateral cooperation and ties on political, economic and cultural areas with regional countries, sharing joint opportunities and common threats, creating confidence and decreasing tensions in multilateral relations made an important part of Afghanistan regional foreign policy.
The Istanbul Process helped increasing cooperation between the member countries and Afghanistan. For instance, the foreign trade between Afghanistan with the countries of the Heart of Asia was 48.11 in 2012, but jumped to 79.13 in 2015.
The Istanbul process has several important tasks and the member countries are bound to carry out those tasks, foreign ministerial’s meetings and political consultations on Afghanistan and the region, implementation of the confirmed documents for trust building, creating understanding between regional organizations and processes on Afghanistan.
It needs to be mentioned that there are barriers before Heart of Asia, Istanbul Process, lack of technical and multilateral understanding regarding regional economic priorities, non implementation of the decisions made in the Istanbul Process meetings, weak relations and cooperation with regional organizations SAARC, SCO and ECO. Despite these challenges, the Istanbul Process paved the way for leaders of regional countries to discuss regional issues and their resolutions.
It is worth mentioning to say that the Istanbul process is important for peace and stability in Afghanistan. The 8th Conference of Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process Conference was hosted by Turkey on Monday, December 9, 2019 where President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani talked the Afghan peace process, regional connectivity and important regional issues.
In his address to the Heart of Asia conference, Ghani cited increasing threats of terrorism, the international illicit drug trade, criminality and armed political opposition—all of which have trans-national as well as national dimensions and these threats pose great risks to collective regional and global security. Ghani called regional connectivity and international cooperation necessary to contain the threats of terrorism, eradicate poverty and manage the risks for the protection of shared interests.
Ghani urged member countries of the Istanbul Process to invest, enhance trade ties with Afghanistan, help peace and sustainable development in Afghanistan.
During his visit, President Ghani shared the Afghan government seven phases road map for peace talks with the Taliban which was endorsed by the member countries of the Heart of Asia. The member countries of the Istanbul Process reiterated their firm commitment to an Afghan led and Afghan owned peace process. For restoration of peace and stability, and to end the current conflict in Afghanistan, regional countries need to make genuine efforts for peace and support intra-Afghan dialogue