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Monthly Archives: September 2015

The Embassy and Permanent Mission of Afghanistan commemorates the ‘Week of Martyrs’

IMG_1391 IMG_1397 Vienna, 09.09.2015

Today, to commemorate the ‘Week of Martyrs’ the Embassy and Permanent Mission of Afghanistan in Vienna hosted a religious ceremony to remember those who had given their lives in the fight for a free, independent, prosperous  and united Afghanistan. Members of the Afghan community, heads of Afghan civil society, as well as religious leaders and Embassy staff, joined Ambassador Erfani in commemorating those who had fallen, through a prayer service.

All attendees participated in the ceremony with Afghan women, men and youth reading passages from the Koran to honour those who sacrificed their lives over the three decades of war and conflict in Afghanistan.

Following the religious ceremony, Ambassador Erfani spoke of theimportance of remembering the many Afghans who lost their lives in the fight to protect the ideals of freedom, equality and liberty in the country. Ambassador Erfani statted that today, the 9th of September, is the 14th Anniversary of the martyrdom of Afghan national hero Ahmad Shah Massoud who was assassinated by two terrorists just two days before the September 11th attacks on the United States. People of Afghanistan lost their very dear leaders, among them Professor Rabbani, Haji Qadir, Abdullah Karzai, Motalliab Beg, Ahmad Khan Samangani, Sayed Mustafa Kazemi, Abdul Rahim Ghafoorzai and others from all ethnic groups of Afghanistan. They will be remembered in the heart and mind of peace loving Afghans. Ambassador Erfani spoke of how now, more than ever, it is vital that we not forget the sacrifice they have made and how we must continue to protect these ideals during this essential Decade of Transformation (2015-2024). Afghanistan has achieved so much in way of stability and prosperity for the country that we must continue to strive to ensure these achievements are not destroyed by enemies of Afghanistan.  Ambassador Erfani concluded by paying tribute to the Martyrs of Afghanistan by expressing strong solidarity and sympathy with the victims and their families who fought in order to achieve a free and prosperous Afghanistan. He also thanked the sacrifices made by the partners in the international community over the last three decades. He said all Afghans and international friends will always be remembered for the sacrifice they made and we will continue to work towards accomplishing the wish of the Afghan Martyrs for a stable, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan.

Following the ceremony and discussion, those in attendance had the opportunity to speak of and discuss with Ambassador Erfani and Embassy staff of those who they have lost to the actions of destructive forces in the country and of the ongoing situation in the country.

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Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Salahuddin Rabbani delivers press conference on the Sixth Regional Economic Cooperation Conference for Afghanistan (RECCA)

 

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Kabul, 04.09.2015

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan hosted the Sixth Regional Economic Cooperation Conference for Afghanistan (RECCA-VI) in Kabul. During the two day conference, technical working groups, academic sessions and senior officials met to discuss issues relating to regional cooperation. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Salahuddin Rabbani, during his press conference regarding RECCA, stated that the conference was important not as a means of finding finances for Afghanistan but rather to create an effective regional economic and trade mechanism. He noted that all regional countries would benefit from the work done in the RECCA projects and that establishing a constructive engagement through regional cooperation and active diplomacy will result in a win-win situation for the region.

H.E. Rabbani noted contributions from the participants of the conference including welcoming, “the Heart of Asia Process regarding the regional cooperation for a secure and stable Afghanistan and emphasized that there should be further coordination between the Heart of Asia Process and RECCA projects which have priority.”

H.E. Rabbani concluded his statements noting that, “The participants appreciated and thanked the United Nations, European Union, and other international financial organizations and the Government of Afghanistan also appreciated and thanked all the countries for their active presence in this conference which brings encouragement and hope for Afghanistan’s bright economic and security future.”

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Statement by H.E. Ayoob Erfani, Ambassador in Austria Permanent Representative to the UN & International Organizations – Vienna At the 9th Session of the Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on Asset Recovery

Thank you, Mr. Chairman,

It is a pleasure seeing you chairing our session, I would like to congratulate you on your election as the chair of this 9th Session of the Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on Asset Recovery and express my gratitude to the Secretariat for the timely preparation of the documents. This session is yet another good opportunity to discuss ways to strengthen cooperation and sharing of experiences between state’s parties in overcoming the challenges that we face in the area of asset recovery.

Mr. Chairman,

Many countries around the world continue to face the huge challenge that the transfer of proceeds of corruption abroad pose to their development and economic growth. In Afghanistan, addressing this aspect of corruption remains key in our anti-corruption efforts and considerable efforts have been made in areas such as institutional building, legislation and policy development which aims at building the required capacity to this end.  The adoption of the Anti-Corruption Strategy and the law on overseeing the implementation of the strategy, the establishment of the High Office of Oversight and Anti-corruption as an independent body in 2008 in accordance with article 6 of the UNCAC as well as the establishment of the Special Anti-Corruption Court and the Special Anti-Corruption Unit at the Office of the Attorney General, are testimony to such efforts in recent years.

As the most recent examples of such efforts, the new Anti-Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Law as well as a number of regulations under the Law on Banking of Afghanistan as well as the Law of the Central Bank of Afghanistan have been adopted, which directly or indirectly deal with asset recovery.  Additionally, the capacity of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of Afghanistan, which was established in 2006, has been enhanced and the Unit has been increasingly playing an important role in anti-corruption efforts including in facilitating the return of proceeds of crime. The FIU has recently joined various cooperation frameworks among FIUs across the region and beyond.

The Government of Afghanistan has also adopted the new Law on Extradition and has recently signed various extradition agreements with a number of neighbouring and regional countries. Such agreements have already facilitated various cases of asset recovery and extradition between the parties. A number of high profile cases of corruption have been recently addressed by the Government which included, in some cases, asset recovery from outside Afghanistan.

Mr. Chairman,

As it has long been argued, given the cross-border nature of asset recovery, success in this important area depends on continued cooperation at all bilateral, regional and international levels and the role of the existing international initiatives is key in supporting countries in dealing with associated challenges. Asset recovery is also a complex and multi-faceted process which requires technical knowledge and specialized capacity.

In this context, while Afghanistan remains committed to further improving the legal and institutional frameworks required for asset recovery as well as to cooperating under the UNCAC and various bilateral agreements, our anti-corruption agencies will continue to require technical assistance to strengthen their capacity including in the area of asset recovery.

Thank you

Ambassador Erfani addresses UNODC anti-corruption meeting

Amb delivering statement at UNODC working group 3

Vienna, 01.09.2015

 Today, H.E. Ayoob Erfani delivered a statement at the sixth session of the open-ended intergovernmental working group on the prevention of corruption, a 3-day meeting organized by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

The Ambassador started by highlighting the significance of the working group meetings as excellent opportunities for exchange of information, experiences and lessons learned. He continued by recalling that tackling the underlying drivers and challenges of corruption remains crucial, also in Afghanistan. “We have taken specific steps at national and international levels in Afghanistan, and for the last 14 years, the Government of Afghanistan supported by the international community has made considerable efforts in areas such as institutional building, legislation and policy development”, he said.

Mr. Ambassador underscored the important role of Afghanistan’s High Office of Oversight and Anti-Corruption, established in 2008. He also emphasized the relevance of the country’s Financial Intelligence Unit and of the government’s anti-corruption strategy. He made reference to the government’s efforts with regards to combatting money laundering, also on regional and international levels, and stated the importance of integrity, transparency and accountability in the area of public procurement. Among other things, the National Unity Government has created the National Procurement Commission to secure better results in this area. The Ambassador also mentioned the crucial role of civil society organizations.

Ambassador Erfani concluded by declaring that “the Government of Afghanistan is committed to further strengthen its capacity in the prevention of corruption including in preventing money laundering as well as to take its reform agenda into the procurement and financial management systems. While we are grateful for the support we have received thus far from the international community including through UNODC, our anti-corruption agencies will continue to need technical support including in the implementation of their preventive programs and initiatives.”

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Remarks by H.E. Ayoob Erfani, Ambassador in Austria Permanent Representative to the UN & International Organizations – Vienna At the Sixth Session of the Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group On the Prevention of Corruption

Thank you Madam Chair,

At the outset, I would like to join other distinguished speakers in congratulating you on your election as the chair of this Sixth Session of the Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on the Prevention of Corruption and thank the Secretariat for the timely preparation of the documents. We highly value the Working Group sessions as an excellent opportunity for exchange of information, good experiences and learned lessons among member states on preventive measures and practices, which remains a serious challenge for all of us.

Madam Chair,

Tackling the underlying drivers and challenges of corruption remains an important component of Afghanistan’s national development agenda and in this context, we have taken specific steps at national and international levels. For the last 14 years, the Government of Afghanistan supported by the international community has made considerable efforts in areas such as institutional building, legislation and policy development.

The Establishment of the High Office of Oversight and Anti-Corruption in 2008 as an independent unifying oversight body to coordinate, supervise and support all anti-corruption efforts in the country, the establishment of anti-corruption tribunals and prosecution offices in both capital and provinces as well as creation of the Financial Intelligence Unit are among other institutional building efforts that have significantly contributed to our anti-corruption efforts in Afghanistan. The adoption of the Anti-Corruption Strategy and the law on overseeing its implementation have provided an appropriate legal and policy framework for anti-corruption efforts in the country.

Preventive measures have been on the top of our national anti-corruption agenda. Asset declaration of high-ranking government officials has been underway under the High Office of Oversight over the past few years which have so far resulted in registration of close to 8000 asset declaration forms. Simplification of the administrative procedures has been further expedited in the past few years and efforts are underway to revise the existing laws, regulations and procedures pertaining to the area of the provision of public services. Additionally, various anti-corruption public awareness programs have been implemented by the High Office of Oversight and Anti-Corruption with support from the relevant government agencies and civil society institutions.

Madam Chair,

The two topics under discussion in this session of the working group are of high importance. I would like to thank the Secretariat as well as the distinguished panelists for their excellent presentations under the two thematic discussions during yesterday’s and today’s sessions.

Money laundering continues to pose threats to economic and social development in our societies including through fostering other illegal activities such as corruption, drug trafficking, trafficking in persons, arms trafficking as well as terrorism. Over the past few years, the Government of Afghanistan has made considerable anti-money laundering efforts which include, among others, the adoption of the new Anti-Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Law as well as improving the capacity of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of Afghanistan in addressing money-laundering cases. The Afghan FIU has expanded cooperation with other FIUs in the region and has joined several international cooperation frameworks.

Integrity, transparency and accountability in the public procurement system have a great impact on economic growth in every country. In Afghanistan, legal and institutional reform in public procurement has been underway over the past 14 years and has become a top priority for the National Unity Government aiming at providing better services through an effective, efficient and transparent procurement system as well as boosting economic growth and effective control of financial expenditure.

As part of this reform agenda, the former Special Procurement Commission has been restructured to the National Procurement Commission chaired by H.E. the President and the National Procurement Authority (NPA) has been created which serves as the secretariat for the Commission. The NPA’s mission is to:

  • “Strengthen the national procurement system by incorporating mechanisms for increased capacity, visibility, accountability and public confidence through development of policy instruments for the efficient management of public resources and effective budget execution that will stimulate and contribute to economic growth.
  • Enable system compatibility with international procurement standards, best practices and to keep pace with the dynamic technological advances.
  • Regulate the national procurement system by developing and implementing comprehensive legal, regulatory, policy and capacity building frameworks and programs.”

Afghanistan has made significant efforts in building a credible and transparent public financial management system. The government is taking required measures to continuously improve its public financial management. Such measures include “(a) applying whatever controls are needed to manage the budget and report reliably to all stakeholders on public finances; (b) building sustainable capacity in the spending ministries to improve their internal controls; (c) establishing government wide internal audit under the Ministry of Finance; (d) strengthening the independence of the external auditor; and (e) harmonizing audit standards.”

Mr. Chairman,

The Government of Afghanistan is committed to further strengthen its capacity in the prevention of corruption including in preventing money laundering as well as to take its reform agenda into the procurement and financial management systems. While we are grateful for the support we have received thus far from the international community including through UNODC, our anti-corruption agencies will continue to need technical support including in the implementation of their preventive programs and initiatives.

Thank you.