Moscow Format: Approach to Afghanistan Problem and Suggestion for a Solution

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After the United States (US) started to negotiate with the Taliban, the Moscow Format was established with the initiatives of Russia. Taliban delegation led by Deputy Prime Minister of Taliban Mullah Abdul Salam Hanafi also attended the 2021 meeting of the format created in 2018. The main objective of the meetings held is to propose solutions to Afghanistan Problem.[1]

Türkiye, Qatar, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Saudi Arabia also attended the last meet in the g of the summit on 16 November 2022 as observer states. Taliban were not invited to this meeting. At the summit, participating states expressed their expectations regarding Afghanistan. In this context, Pakistani representatives advocated for the international community to establish relations with the Taliban and drew attention to the need to increase humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. Russia said it was concerned about the terrorist incidents in Afghanistan, and said a government should be formed in that country that would include all identity groups. The Iranian representative also underlined the request for an inclusive government. In addition, the Chinese representative stressed that the US is the root cause of the Afghan problem. Tajik representatives claimed that Tajiks in the country were killed because they were in connection with the Panjshir Movement and harshly criticized the Taliban.

Following the meeting, a joint statement signed by the participating states was published. In the declaration, it was stated that the establishment of military basins of various states in Afghanistan is unacceptable and the establishment of a pluralistic government that will include all ethnic and political groups is of great importance. In addition, the declaration included the desire for a peaceful, independent Afghanistan free from terrorism and drug trafficking. In addition, participating states declared that they will support the Taliban’s fight against terrorism and drugs and that humanitarian aid will continue to solve economic and political problems in the country. On the other hand, the US has been called to release Afghanistan’s national reserves to overcome economic, social, and humanitarian problems in Afghanistan. The most important point was that states of the region expressed their will to act in coordination and that they would establish relations with the Taliban through United Nations (UN). In this context, the request for the establishment of an international negotiation group for Afghanistan under the auspices of the UN was a proposal agreed upon by all participants.[2]

Russia’s Special Representative of Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov made a statement on the fact that the Taliban was not invited to the Moscow Meeting, and expressed that the Taliban did not care about the decisions that are taken in previous summits, and since it does not take into account the views of the summit, it was not invited to the summit. As it will be remembered, in the declaration of meeting in 2021, it was demanded the Taliban form a government that is respectful and inclusive of human rights, especially women’s rights. In addition, the Taliban were asked to take a determined stance in the fight against terrorism. It seems; stakeholders of Moscow Format believe that no significant progress has been made during the one year.

However, the main reason why the Taliban is not invited to the summit is that the Taliban has been in various contacts with the United States and is a discomfort in Russia. It is also possible that Tajikistan’s distant approach to the Taliban can be counted among the determining factors. However, the fact that the Taliban was not represented at this meeting also reveals that there has been a transformation in the approach of regional states toward the Taliban. Because this situation can be interpreted as actors in favor of putting pressure on the Taliban to accept the conditions of the international community.

On the other hand, participating states believe that they will be affected by the insecurity, instability, terrorism, and economic problems in the country, as they are countries near Afghanistan. Therefore, it can be said that they want to give a message that they cannot see the progress they expect from the Taliban over the course of a year. However, Moscow Format also took care not to marginalize the Taliban and gave the message that if various steps were taken, the Taliban would be helped. This can be read as “You can be a part of the solution to Taliban.”

At this point, it should be noted that; the Moscow Format does not define what inclusive government is; however, it proposes a roadmap for the political dialogue process through the call for the establishment of an international negotiation group under the auspices of the UN. It can be argued that the main reason for the importance of the format to the UN is the thought that unilateral and therefore excluding the West solution proposals will not yield any results.

In economic terms, the format advocates the release of Afghanistan’s national reserves. In addition, it emphasizes the importance of humanitarian aid and development projects for the Afghan people.

On the other hand, Taliban Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hafez Ziya Takal said that they welcomed the statement issued after the summit, stated that Afghanistan does not pose a threat to any state, and emphasized that they would not allow foreign powers to use Afghanistan as a base.[3] In this regard, Takal also stated that the articles in the declaration are in favor of Afghanistan.

As a result, states participating in the Moscow Format are to solve the problem, since they also care about their security. Moreover, the actors do not only look at the issue at the regional level; on the contrary, it advocates the development of a global understanding. For this reason, it is seen that the international community has focused on recommendations of the international community to develop a common attitude through the UN. The warm welcome of the Taliban after the meeting, on the other hand, can be described as a harbinger of some developments toward the development of de facto relations, although the issue of resolving the recognition crisis is not easy.

[1] “نشست مسکو: طالبان حکومت همه‌شمول قومی-سیاسی را شکل دهند”, VOA,, (Date of Accession: 17.11.2022).

[2] “بیانیه‌ مشترک نشست مسکو: ایجاد تاسیسات نظامی کشورهای ثالث در افغانستان غیر قابل قبول است”, Afintl,, (Date of Accession: 17.11.2022).

[3] “حکومت طالبان از موضع‌گیری نشست مسکو استقبال کرد”, Azadiradio,, (Date of Accession: 17.11.2022).

Ahmad Khan Dawlatyar, 2013 yılında Kunduz Üniversitesi Hukuk ve Siyaset Bilimi Bölümü’nden mezun olmuştur. Yüksek lisans derecesini Ankara Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Siyaset Bilimi Anabilim Dalı’nda “Türkiye Cumhuriyeti ve Afganistan İslam Cumhuriyeti Anayasalarında Güçler Ayrılığı İlkesi Üzerine Karşılaştırmalı Bir Analiz” başlıklı teziyle 2019 yılında almıştır. Çeşitli bilimsel etkinliklere katılan Dawlatyar, Afganistan sorunuyla ilgili bildiriler ve makaleler sunmuştur. Bu kapsamda “Afganistan Sorununun Dini ve İdeolojik Nedenleri” başlıklı sunumu yayınlanmıştır. Halihazırda Ankara Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim Dalı’nda doktora eğitimine devam etmektedir. ANKASAM bünyesinde yürütülen çalışmalara katkıda bulunan Ahmad Khan Dawlatyar’ın başlıca çalışma alanları Afganistan ve Pakistan’dır. Dawlatyar, anadil seviyesinde Farsça, Özbekçe, Türkçe ve Peştunca dillerine hakimdir. Ayrıca orta düzeyde İngilizce bilmektedir.