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Ambassador Erfani opens the 3rd International Congress of Afghan Refugees

Ambassador Erfani opens the 3rd International Congress of Afghan Refugees 

 

Ambassador Erfani at the conference.

Ambassador Erfani at the conference.

 

 

 

Vienna, 14 December 2014

 

Today, H.E. Ambassador Ayoob Erfani opened the 3rd International Congress of Afghan Refugees, held in Vienna, discussing the situation of Afghan refugees, migrants and naturalized citizens, in support of the programmes of the newly established National Unity Government of Afghanistan for the upcoming Decade of Transformation (2015-2024) in the country. The event was co-organized by the Vienna-based Afghan Cultural Association AKIS and the Association of International Afghan Refugees.

The focus of the congress was to emphasize the role of Afghan refugees in the reconstruction of their country. Participants from Afghanistan, Austria, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, the Russian Federation, Ukraine, and other European countries included heads of Afghan associations, members of the Afghan parliament, Afghan government officials, civil society representatives and the media. All participants actively contributed to the work of the congress.

In his opening remarks, Ambassador Erfani welcomed all participants to Vienna and briefed them about the current situation in Afghanistan: “We have come a long way over the past thirteen years, the people of Afghanistan with the support from our international friends has accomplished enormous progress, yet we also encountered missed opportunities and we still have a number of remaining challenges in front of us”, the Ambassador stated. He added “that the successfully concluded process of transition as well as the strong demonstration by the Afghan people during the 2014 elections sent a clear message of the Afghans’ commitment to democracy and Afghanistan’s upcoming Decade of Transformation (2015-2024): the people of Afghanistan want peace, security, democracy and prosperity.”

Ambassador Erfani emphasized that all participants have deep understanding of the Afghanistan’s history at their disposal. He also underscored that while participants are encouraged to articulate different views, analyses and ideas, the congress would also offer a great opportunity to build consensus and to find compromise in order to enable a positive discussion. This is the time to find ways and means to build up on previous achievements, to learn from past mistakes, and to deliver better in the future for the people of Afghanistan. “In order to achieve the vision of the Decade of Transformation for a better future of our country, we will have to work together, spurred by the values of unity and solidarity”, Mr. Ambassador said.

The government of Afghanistan is committed to facilitate everything that is needed both abroad and at home and throughout all spheres of society for the people of Afghanistan to be able to actively contribute to the advancement of their country. One focus will be put on the creation of opportunities for business and investment. Ambassador Erfani called the Afghans abroad a huge asset for Afghanistan and asked the participants to “play an active role in the sense of shared responsibility in helping those in particular need, which unfortunately are still many of the war-stricken Afghan people who had to suffer for such a long time.” The Ambassador continued by inviting all participants to pro-actively engage in contributing to the implementation of the programmes of the National Unity Government, launched at the London Conference on Afghanistan earlier this month.

Ambassador Erfani also took part in the closing session of the congress where he commended the organizers for the hard work they had put in, and all participants for their readiness to take part and for their pledges to help the Afghan people, also through lobbying for continued cooperation between Afghanistan and its partners in the international community and by contributing to the implementation of the programmes of the National Unity Government, in terms of investments, economic opportunities, cultural work, civil society and media activities.

In conclusion, the Ambassador once again thanked the organizers and all participants for their contributions and encouraged everyone to actively engage in the creation of a better future for Afghanistan.

 

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Statement by H.E. Ambassador Ayoob Erfani at the OSCE Security Committee meeting in response to the presentation by UK Ministry of Defence Representative, Mr Steven Flavell

Mr. Chairman,

I thank you Mr. Chairman for chairing the OSCE SC and appreciate your good work and excellent leadership during this difficult year for the OSCE.

I would like to warmly welcome Mr. Flavell to the OSCE and thank him for his presentation.

Let me also welcome Ms. Raihana Azad, a member of the Afghan parliament, who will also briefly address this meeting.

We are grateful to the Government of the United Kingdom for their continued commitment in helping the Afghan people to consolidate democracy, freedom and security in Afghanistan. Training provided by UK servicemen and servicewomen has enabled the ANSF to become a reliable actor in providing security, promoting the rule of law and strengthening our national law enforcement capability.

Our new government, under the leadership of President Ashraf Ghani and CEO Abdullah Abdullah, will have an ambitious set of goals for the future of our country, including tackling corruption and terrorism, as well as finding solutions to the menace of illicit narcotics. However, the National Unity Government believes in a comprehensive and transnational strategy to tackle these intertwined issues and continues to stress the importance of economic development and promotion of women’s rights in Afghanistan.

2014 has been a crucial year for Afghanistan, a country which has long suffered as the victim of conflict and warfare. We began our transition process in 2001, when our partners in the international community started helping the people Afghanistan, right after the UN Security Council unanimous resolution no. 1378. They provided us with the opportunity to get rid of the threat of terrorism and to have a stable and peaceful future, which we were denied in the previous decade.

This year we have completed our political, security and economic transition. Transition has taken place in our government, through the historic presidential and provincial council elections of the first ever-democratic transfer of power to the new elected president, and soon the cabinet of National Unity Government will be presented to the parliament. The Afghan Government submitted its post-2014 economic priority program entitled “Implementation of Self-Sufficiency” to our donors in London on December 4. The ISAF mission will come to an end on December 31, and in 16 days the ANSF will assume full responsibility for the security of the country.

The strengthening of co-operation with NATO and our regional and international partners remains an utmost priority of the NUG. The new President of Afghanistan has signed the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the United States and the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with NATO, and we also have signed strategic partnership agreements with many of the countries present here today. These agreements provide a basis for the training and equipping of the ANSF, as well as for the effectiveness of further economic development in the country.

Taking this opportunity I would like to emphasize the following three key points:

  1. As the Transformation decade begins, we are grateful to our NATO and other international partners for their sacrifices and for their commitment to train, advice and assist the ANSF, which remains essential for a better future for the Afghan people.
  2. We wish to assure our partners and friends that, while realizing the seriousness of remaining challenges, pertaining to both security and the economy, we are determined to take a brave step forward to overcome these challenges. We seek to provide Afghanistan’s strategic location as an opportunity for trade, transit and connectivity in our region and beyond. Let me also reassure that we will not accept anyone using our soil to pose a threat to anyone.
  3. Our continued partnership, including through the NATO Resolute Support Mission and with the determination of the new government of Afghanistan, our joint efforts will guarantee our success.

Once again we would like to thank Mr. Flavell for his comprehensive presentation and insights on the future Afghan Security.

Likewise, I wish to thank all of today’s speakers who expressed their countries’ support to Afghanistan in the years to come.

Thank you.

 

 

Ambassador Erfani addressed the participants at the Power Breakfast on the “Small Arms Survey 2014 Yearbook: Women and Guns” and the “Expert Group Meeting on Violence against Women and Comprehensive Security” at the OSCE

 

This morning, Ambassador Erfani participated in a Power Breakfast session on Women and Guns where he shared Afghanistan’s experiences, achievements, challenges and future prospects on this important matter. He also participated in the expert group meeting on violence against women and comprehensive security. The discussion focused on the understanding of the gender perspective of personal security in the OSCE participating states and partners for cooperation.

The panel consisted of experts from various fields and organizations, including, representatives from the OSCE Gender section and the OSCE academy in Bishkek, the country representative of UN Women in Albania, the EU FRA and civil society.

Ambassador Erfani expressed his gratitude to the partners of Afghanistan for their help during the stabilization process in the country for the last 13 years, with the empowerment of women being one important aspect. He referred to the need for a comprehensive approach that takes into account the physical security of women and girls, the prime victims of decade-long conflict, as well as women’s rights, poverty eradication, the creation of job opportunities and access to education and health. He emphasized that Afghanistan is committed to this important issue as one of the main national priorities and needs the international communities’ continuous and effective support.

“The impact of gender-based violence is enormous and has ripple effects throughout our society. Afghanistan has taken a number of legal, social, educational and financial steps to improve the situation of women, but we must acknowledge that violence against girls and women still persists, to a degree that is unacceptable. Afghanistan has become a much better place for women, but there is a long way to go to eliminate all forms of violence against them and to accomplish comprehensive security in the country.”

Ambassador Erfani emphasized that Afghanistan is continuing its efforts in improving the situation of women in the country. He stressed the commitment to implement comprehensive new security mechanisms to ensure that their rights are upheld in Afghanistan.

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Ambassador Erfani headed the Afghan delegation at the 21st meeting of the OSCE Ministerial Council in Basel

Ambassador Erfani headed the Afghan delegation at the

21st meeting of the OSCE Ministerial Council in Basel

 

Basel

Basel/Switzerland, 05.12.2014

H.E. Ambassador Erfani headed the delegation of Afghanistan at the 21st OSCE Ministerial Council in Basel/Switzerland (4-5 December 2014).

 

The Ambassador delivered statements to the plenary session and during a special session on terrorism. He also held a number of bilateral meetings with other heads of delegations, including several Foreign Ministers, among them the Swiss Foreign Minister and OSCE Chairman-in-Office for 2014, H.E. Didier Burkhalter (photo).

 

Mr. Ambassador during the plenary session highlighted the achievements which enabled Afghanistan’s transition to the upcoming transformation decade and referred to OSCE’s role during stabilization process in Afghanistan. He underscored that for the first time in Afghanistan a democratic transfer of power from one to another elected President took place and that the National Unity Government is making practical steps to implement its programmes, in line with Afghanistan’s National Priority Programmes (NPPs) and the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework.

 

During the special session on terrorism, Ambassador Erfani called on all countries to reinforce collective efforts in the spirit of shared responsibility and to take a comprehensive approach in fighting this terrible scourge: “We must take a holistic approach that covers both a response from our security forces to terrorism, as well as economic development , engagement with the civil society to counter violent extremism and radicalization that can be conducive to terrorism”, Mr. Ambassador said.

 

The Ministerial Council discussed current crisis and protracted conflicts in the OSCE area including the crisis in and around Ukraine, conflicts in Transdniestria, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Georgia. Delegates engaged in constructive deliberations on broader Eurasian security matters and adopted a number of important documents including the Ministerial Declaration on Co-operation with the Asian Partners, with OSCE’s commitment to continue its support for Afghanistan’s transformation decade.

 

Ambassador concluded by stating the readiness of the Afghan Government to further intensify co-operation with the OSCE under the 2015 Swiss Chairmanship of the OSCE Asian Contact Group, and under the incoming Serbian Chairmanship of the OSCE, whom he wished every success.

 

Afghanistan is one of five OSCE Partners for Co-operation in Asia, since 2003.

 

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President Ghani’s closing Remarks at the London Conference on Afghanistan-2014

London Ghani

4 December, 2014, London, UK

 

Prime Minister Cameron,

Prime Minister Sharif,

His Highness,

His Excellency Dr. Abdullah,

Secretary Kerry,

Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

 

 

On behalf of Dr. Abdullah, myself, the government of national unity and the people of Afghanistan, it gives me great pleasure to thank you Mr. Prime Minister for hosting this event.

Let me take this opportunity first to pay tribute to over 3,400 NATO personnel who lost their lives in Afghanistan, over 30,000 who were wounded and hundreds of thousands of the veterans of the war who remember our deserts, our valleys and our mountains and are marked by it for their life.

I want to thank President Obama, Secretary Kerry, all the members of NATO-ISAF countries for your commitment and for your leadership and for your sacrifices during the last 13 years, particularly during the last ten years with us.

I want to also pay tribute to children, men and women, Afghans of all walks who against all odds have embraced this partnership. There should be no doubt that we have a social consensus and a political consensus in Afghanistan on our partnership with the world in general, and those who stood with us shoulder to shoulder, in particular.

The overwhelming vote of the two houses of our Parliament on approving, if there was ever proof on approving the  bilateral security agreement and the status of forces agreement should leave no doubt.

A 99.9 per cent Muslim country is proud of its partnership and happy to stand by it. This is unique and all the leaders need to be complimented for having won the consensus of our people to this partnership. We, particularly Dr. Abdullah and I are committed to this partnership and intend to act upon the will of our people.

2014 was a year, in which we the Afghans defied the odds, if you took bets at the beginning of 2014 or the end of 2013, I think almost every newspaper around the world predicted doom. They said, well they will not, they have three transitions, how will they get one of them right, well, we have gotten two of them right, but we are about to get the third right.

The first one was political transition. For the first time in our history, we faced the prospect of transferring of authority, not power from one elected leader to another.

I hope that the partnership that His Excellency Dr. Abdullah and I have formed is a tribute to the wisdom of our people. The government of national unity represents the absolute majority of the people of Afghanistan. And what this transition means is that the process of state formation and consolidation and political consensus in Afghanistan is irreversible.

Let our friends celebrate and let our detractors note that history will not be repeated, that we have overcome the past, we face the future with full unity and with confidence.

The second transition was security.  Again, there was all kind of speculations four years ago when we launched the security transition that we will not hold together. Well, the Afghan national security forces, I am proud to indicate as their Commander-in-Chief, are assuming their patriotic duty of defending our homeland.

 If there is any sense that the state is about to collapse because of security, that’s an illusion. Our national security forces again with support from our friends and partners are fulfilling and capable. The capabilities that have been achieved in the last four years are unprecedented and I want to thank all our partners for investing in the Afghan national security forces.

Your continued support for Afghanistan as manifested yesterday in agreement on the Resolute Support Mission gives us the confidence that you would be standing next to us, though in a noncombat role.

This transition from combat to non-combat is welcome. The assurance that train, advice and assist will continue is a vote of confidence and again thank you for your financial commitments to both your security and ours.  I speak of your security and ours because we are joined by common interests to face common threats and we are determined to overcome that.

 Acts of terror are vile. Yes, our children are dying and when I hold those bodies, my heart breaks, each time I make a call to the father of a girl who has been on her way to college or hold or embrace the father of a child who has been killed while playing volleyball, only God knows, but we are not elected to lead in order to break down. We will face these threats and we will overcome them. It needs to be clear. Simultaneously peace is our national priority and we are determined to bring political disagreements to end politically but we will not be forced out of the path that we have chosen and out of the obedience to our Constitution and our values.

Islam, our holy religion, is a civilization of tolerance. These acts as our Council of Ulema said have no place within our history, they do not have any ground and we ask all our partners and neighbors to stand with us because no country is a fortress and we all need to join forces.

The third transition is economic. We articulated this, we have not done well but that is the challenge that we have been inherited and we will face it. So, let me speak now of transformation. Two out of three, I think it is a good record.  But the fundamental issue that I want to highlight, I want to highlight quickly five points:

One, in the two months, the government of national unity has got the vision right. I hope that you have been convinced of the paper that we know where to go and how to go there and how to get there.  And our vision, Mr. Prime Minister, is to be the servants of our citizens. The vision of the government of national unity is to fundamentally change the relation between the government and the governed. The Governed are the principle, the government are the agents. This means our accountability to our citizens because the citizens that voted for the government of national unity braved all odds and stood in lines for many hours, overcame many threats.

 Dr. Abdullah and I are determined to deliver to them as their chief servants and I hope that this transformation would mark the beginning of a virtuous circle that would enable us to overcome the past thirty five years.

Second, we’ve demonstrated how to build political capital. The government of national unity represents the will of the absolute majority of the people and you’ve seen when the formation of the government quickly public consensus has come. Yesterday, Dr. Abdullah and I were speaking to a group of our Diaspora here and we told them that we have come with message of unity.  Each time in the past, we came, they were telling, “go to Kabul and get united”.  Now we are telling them, we are united, come back and help us and fortunately dozens of young men and women immediately offered to come back and to serve their country.

But we have not only gathered political capital, we have translated political capital into political will. We signed the bilateral security agreement and the SOFA on our first day in office and on the second day, we tackled the grave risk to the reputation of Afghanistan, called the Kabul Bank. I am pleased to say that yesterday the Supreme Court of Afghanistan affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Court.  Within a month, there is a month that the culprits will have to make payments otherwise criminal proceedings can start against them.

We have not shown hesitation in tackling our problems. I hope that our paper is one of the most honest prepared by a developing country with immense potential and with immense problems. We know our problems, we own them. Our dialogue with the international community is changed. You, our partners do not need to remind us that corruption is a problem or institutions-building is the objective. We own those and we will deliver and now our dialogue will shift from why to how.

So, our third issue is partnership. We have gotten partnership right. I hope that the new stage of partnership that is coming from Kabul becomes infectious, and your presence here, everyone single one of you is a vote of confidence in a stable and peaceful Afghanistan; we deeply thank each one of you.

Note please that this government respects the opinions of the partners regarding structural short-comings and we want honest discussions, focused discussions and more than discussions, actions that would get us to overcome those problems.

The fourth issue that we have gotten right in these two months is regional cooperation. We have started an active engagement with our neighbors and we are very pleased with the nature of the dialogue. Thank you, Prime Minister Sharif for indicating that a new strategic opportunity has opened up. We hope that this deep strategic opportunity will be consolidated and that we can add to mutually create full sovereign equality between two sovereign states whose cooperation is essential to the prospects of getting the Asian continental economy on the road.

We have a choice, we either become the lynch pin of Asian integration where only roads will come to our countries and go out of our countries to connect Central Asia, South Asia, West Asia and East Asia or we will become the cul-de-sac- the forgotten piece of history, because time will not wait. We master a sense of urgency. This is the moment where the third phase of globalization can lift us out of poverty in the region and behooves us to seize that moment to cooperate fully so that we can curve a new future for our people.

And fifthly, we have a program of action that we have shared with you and we are implementing. Dr. Abdullah who began chairing this conference must have informed you that we intend to form a cabinet within 2 to 4 weeks of returning.  We are determined to bring people of competence, commitment, integrity and transparency to lead the program of the government of national unity.

I was delighted we the comment that Dr. Abdullah made to the President of Azerbaijan. He said he and I agree on so many things that he now wonders why we ran against each other. Thank you for joining me brother.

And that consensus cuts across the board , we are not agreeing on smaller things merely, we are agreeing on the big and small and our mode of operation which is unprecedented in the region, we hope,  becomes the norm, namely that putting national interest above overcoming legacies of division, is essential to the empowerment of our citizens.

My fourth and last point is on delivery.  We’ve gotten the discourse right, I think, we’ve gotten the talk right, but our people will not judge us by the talk, they will judge us by our capacity to deliver because they expect us to deliver, our partners expect us to deliver and the world expects us to deliver.

So, I will make three brief points here.

First, the focus of the government of national unity is institutions. Let me repeat what Dr. Abdullah said yesterday. We want to make sure that the government of national unity leaves a legacy of making the constitution a daily reality.  That we are not ever going to disregard the Constitution, that we are going to get electoral reforms right, we are going to get the Loya Jirga right, and all other aspects because with the legacies there will be some adjustments in these moments and we hope, these would be the last sets of adjustments and it is extremely important. What we want to be judged by, Excellencies, colleagues, friends, is the Afghanistan of today versus the Afghanistan of five years ago. The people of Afghanistan are going to judge us, the world then, and ultimately, God almighty is going to be judging us by delivering on this mandate and God willing, we will deliver.

Second, there are three numerical majorities in our country that are economic, political and social minorities. We have to get their empowerment right.

1st: Women, our women a key to our future.  

Citizenship cannot be gotten right by depriving half the society, but here our request to all of you, particularly advanced economies and emerging economies. Please open up your markets to our women. Five day training programs do not do good. Let us deal fundamentally with the skills of our women, let money flow to their pockets.

I asked the French Foreign Minister yesterday for a partnership with French Fashion houses to design the textiles that our women can produce. Today they have great skills but their products are only sold at the hospital auctions. We want to work with you, help us form the first women’s university in Afghanistan, help us form a series of women’s colleges across the board junior colleges where with the culture norms, we can have the right impact. Make your training programs available.  Allow women to women contacts.

So it is extremely important to get this issue right, with the understanding that since this is the oldest problem in history, it is going to require sustained efforts and the efforts need to pay. We must be culturally sensitive but our culture allows enormous accommodation and we must take cultural change seriously.

Second is our youth. The absolute majority of our population is under 30. Three generations have lived with war. We hope that our first generation will live in peace and not only live in peace but lead the process of peace and stability and prosperity.  Investing in our youth is critical not just to our stability but to global stability, and we hope the empowerment of the youth, that the government of national has began, it is going to become consolidated and we ask you here for the opportunities for our youth that would not give them merely education but the skills, capabilities, management and leadership. That day would be to lead a proud Afghanistan and a prosperous Afghanistan and that is within our reach.

And the third is our poor. Poverty has stubbornly remained at 36 per cent. To live with a dollar twenty five cents a day is not to live in dignity.  And if it were not for our Diaspora, if it were not for major efforts, the poor would be even more of a problem. You know we build a bridge with $2 million; a young boy of fourteen paid fifty dollars blows it up. Poverty is a driver of instability. Recruitment into criminal gangs global is part of the problem.  The narcotics problem, you know they pay fourteen to seventeen dollars a day while the best public works program pays two dollars a day.

We need to focus on the issue of poverty and its eradication as a fundamental problem and that is critical to the agenda of citizenship. An inclusive society requires stakeholders. We are going to begin with our urban property reforms, so that every Afghan can literally own a piece of the country with the right documents, with full property rights, that their  education will be meaningful after 6 years and 9 years, giving them a job, not literacy in two or three languages.

 So delivery of services becomes critical to this inclusive society because fortunately we have now created inclusive politics. Inclusive politics now can create inclusive economy in an inclusive society that we desire.

 But that’s my last point.

We need to do development differently. When a government does not reform, parallel institutions are created, marked projects are created, technical assistance is created because it ignores the government, because when a government does not reform, the partners feel right to protect their things, but global experience has made one point very simple – parallel organizations do not work.

Haiti is the best example but there are others. So we ask our partners to join us in the months to come to translate the program that we have presented to you into concrete mechanisms of delivery.

We want to invite you. The best treasuries of the world that are sitting around to agree with us on the best system of accountability but let it be coherent, on the best set of program designs, judging sequence and capacity together so we can create a narrative of study accomplishment.

Afghanistan has the potential to be self-supporting, enhanced our paper on self-reliance but our self-reliance is not the old fashioned to close ourselves against the world. Our self-reliance is going to come and embrace the world in a competitive economy so creation of a legal economy that can drive the citizenship agenda and ensure that we can pay for our security is essential.

We are determined to do business differently. Now we hope that our partners will be joining us in a spirit of full partnership and give and take, and hearing, listening and then agreeing to move forward so we want to propose to you. Let us change the modality from projects to payment for results. Let us agree on results. You pay after we rightly accomplished them and then the next set. That mechanism will ensure that we are all happy and have a meaningful way forward.

Let me, in conclusion, again. Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister for your personal friendship, for your repeated visits to Afghanistan. I recall the first time that you were leader of the opposition, that you went to Helmand, you got a detailed briefing and the sun was so hot that nobody else could bear it but you stood and I hear that there was an officer who did not have a willing audience so he gave you a real description but your legendary patience, your willingness to both listen to that officer, to listen to your Afghan counterparts and to lead on global stage are all immense marks of a leader. We appreciate the role that you have played in facilitating dialogues and persuading other world leaders to pay attention to Afghanistan in hosting this conference.

Again on behalf of Dr. Abdullah, myself, the government and people of Afghanistan, let me thank you, Mr. Prime Minister, Highness, Mr. Secretary, all excellencies, ladies and gentlemen for a very successful conference, for your vote of confidence in the future of Afghanistan. We , the people of Afghanistan are grateful and hope that with you, all of us will be more secure and that you will achieve the objective that we have all sacrificed so much for- a stable, peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan.

Thank you.

Afghanistan co-hosts Colloquium “Afghanistan – a Country in Transformation: Promoting Peace and Development through Art”

Afghanistan co-hosts Colloquium “Afghanistan – a Country in Transformation: Promoting Peace and Development through Art”

Darya event

From left: Gillian Murray, UNODC; Ambassador Erfani; Moderator Michael Platzer, ACUNS; Mr Farhad Darya; Ana Lukatella, OSCE; Veronika Eschbacher, Wiener Zeitung.

 

Vienna, 01.12.2014

 

Today, the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan co-hosted a colloquium regarding the role of art in the promotion of peace and development. The event was jointly organized with UNODC and ACUNS and took place at the Vienna International Center. The event was very well attended by UN staff, diplomats and NGOs.

H.E. Ambassador Ayoob Erfani opened the event by introducing the popular Afghan singer, Mr. Farhad Darya. “Mr. Farhad Darya is one of the most prominent and beloved contemporary singers and composers from Afghanistan of our days and enjoys particular popularity among our young generation.”

“Today, we will highlight a beautiful side of Afghanistan: its rich culture and how it positively contributes to the development of the country, in the context of the stabilization and democratization efforts during our Decade of Transformation 2015-2024”, noted Ambassador Erfani.

Ambassador Erfani’s statement was followed by the keynote speech by Mr. Darya. He talked about the fact that the media only focuses on negative news about Afghanistan. Positive aspects, such as music and art, play a crucial role in transformation by giving hope to the people and thus cannot be neglected. He stressed the importance of art in showing the world that war is not the only option for Afghanistan.

After a second welcoming statement by ACUNS Vienna liaison officer Dr. Michael Platzer, panelist Ms. Ana Lukatela, an advisor on gender issues at the OSCE, took the floor.  She emphasized the importance of art in the peace building process as well as access of both men and women to art and media.

 

Ms. Lukatela was followed by Ms. Eschbacher, a journalist from the Wiener Zeitung, who has made many trips to Afghanistan and writes about political and social issues in the country. Ms. Eschbacher stressed the importance of art in post-conflict societies and called for a reevaluation of cultural traditions in Afghanistan.

 

Finally Ms. Murray, Deputy Director of UNODC, thanked Mr. Darya for his efforts as a good will Ambassador for UNDP and UNODC. All panelists came up with insightful observations, remarks as well as questions for Mr. Darya.

 

This was followed by a lively Q & A session, in which many in the audience participated. Both guests and panelists expressed their gratitude towards Mr. Darya for his great contribution in promoting peace and development in Afghanistan.

 

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