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REMARKS BY THE MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF AFGHANISTAN H.E. SALAHUDDIN RABBANI AT THE 4TH MEETING OF THE QUADRILATERAL COORDINATION GROUP (QCG)

Kabul, 23.02.2016

Honorable Members of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Please allow me to extend a very warm welcome to members of the QCG delegations from Pakistan, China, and the United States to this fourth meeting of the group as we jointly strive to make tangible progress in our collective quest for ensuring sustainable peace in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the wider region.

The realization of lasting peace and security remains the utmost priority of the Afghan people and the Government. We will continue to pursue all available and possible avenues to ensure this noble and rightful demand of our people for a dignified peace that strengthens our constitutional system. We also appreciate the goodwill and support of our neighbors, friends and allies in this endeavor. It is in this context that we continue to attach particular importance to the work of the QCG.

The work of this group is at a critical stage. We have managed to make tangible progress on a framework in our work so far, including the adoption of terms for the group’s work and the Roadmap document as well as the consensus to ensure direct talks between representatives of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and authorized representatives of Taliban groups.

I am confident that our discussions today will build on the progress of our previous meetings in Islamabad and Kabul. Following the consensus reached during the third meeting in Islamabad earlier this month, we would like to see the group outline the details of the expected direct talks between the Government of Afghanistan and Taliban groups before the end of February.

As we have done so in the past, we renew our call on all Taliban groups to join these Afghan-led and Afghan-owned talks so we can find political solutions and put an end to the violence and bloodshed in our country. The most recent such clear and principled call came in recent key statements of H.E. President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and H.E. Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah.

As His Excellency President Ghani said on 15 February, and I quote, “I call on Taliban groups, the Hezb e Islami led by Mr. Hekmatiyar and other opponents to join the caravan of peace. We will welcome and embrace every group opposed to us that is prepared to live with us in peace and brotherhood. Now that the overall framework and Roadmap for peace have been prepared, this is the best opportunity for the opponents to abandon their hostilities and armed opposition against their compatriots. If the goal is political participation, our Constitution bars no ones path. We clearly state to our opponents that we believe in peace as part of our faith and belief.”

The priority that the Afghan government attaches to a political process is based on and derives its legitimacy and support from the overwhelming consensus in Afghanistan  — both inside and outside the government — on a meaningful, serious, results-oriented peace and reconciliation process. The appointment of the chairman of the High Peace Council, H.E. Pir Syed Ahmad Gillani and his deputies will significantly bolster the efforts of the High Peace Council to further strengthen and consolidate this national consensus in Afghanistan on peace with Taliban groups through a political process.

The work of the High Peace Council under its new leadership will be a continuation of our national quest for peace and stability in Afghanistan, including the prominent legacy of the leadership and personal sacrifice of Martyr of Peace, Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani the first Chairman of the High Peace Council. It was he who outlined the vision and program of action for the High Peace Council and laid down the foundations of its work, which I also had the honor of leading for more than three years.  Therefore, there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind — Taliban or otherwise — that the Afghan people and government are serious and sincere in seeking a political resolution to the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan with all its internal and external dimensions.

At the same time, as we continue our sincere efforts for peace on behalf of the people of Afghanistan, we will continue to defend Afghanistan and defeat all those forces bent on turning the clock back in Afghanistan on our historic political, social and developmental achievements. The consensus and unity of our nation on preserving and expanding these gains is beyond any doubt. We will not allow these gains to be threatened in any way. Nor will we relent in our actions to put an end to the violence perpetrated against the men, women and children of this country on an almost daily basis.

The same resolve will continue to apply to those who continue to disregard our sincere and genuine call for peace, and who intend to undermine our efforts to consolidate the hard-earned gains of our people.

We must also acknowledge another fundamental truth: that the menace of terrorism is not a phenomenon limited to Afghanistan; it has its clear regional and international dimensions and linkages, and poses grave threats to people and states well beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan. In this context, we believe that the QCG’s collective and specific actions and measures to advance peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan at the earliest will also help our ongoing common fight against terrorism in the broader region.

We therefore attach great importance to the work of the QCG in support of peace and reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan. Going forward and building on the work we have done so far, we look forward to clear and decisive practical steps to meet our shared commitments outlined in the Roadmap in its letter and spirit, in a timely and consistent manner.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Among other confidence building measures in this process, we need to see a significant reduction of violence against the Afghan government and people as critically important, and a key determinant and test for the work of this importance mechanism and our overall efforts in support of a results-oriented peace process in Afghanistan.  In this regard, and as we commence and continue talks with those Taliban groups who are choosing the path of a political process, it will be a key test of our common resolve and commitment to undertake all necessary measures to squeeze and shrink the space in which violent armed groups opposed to peace and reconciliation are active, including decisive actions aimed at eliminating their access to sanctuaries and support systems.

Those elements of the armed groups who continue to refuse to join the peace talks, and continue the path of violence must realize that our message to them is clear: our brave security forces will not hesitate in their resolve to fight them resolutely, wherever they are, to stop them from committing terror, violence and bloodshed.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The role of Afghanistan and our neighbor Pakistan continues to be central and most critical to the success of our joint efforts. In this context, we also hope that this meeting can reach agreement on early initiatives between Afghan and Pakistani Ulema in support of peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan and against violence and terrorism directed at the people of Afghanistan and the region. Pakistan’s support to the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation efforts are not only critical in this process but also crucial to our sincere and serious endeavors to build greater trust and confidence in all facets of our vital relationship based on mutual respect, shared interests and concerns.

I would also like to take this opportunity to underline the fact that peace in Afghanistan is not just the aspiration and desire of the Afghan people.  Peace in Afghanistan is indeed also crucial and a pre-condition for peace and stability in the region. It is for this reason that we in Afghanistan also call on all our other neighbors and major countries in the wider region to continue extending their understanding and support to these Afghan government-led and owned peace efforts. On our part, we will also continue to take all our regional partners into confidence on peace efforts in order to maintain and further strengthen the existing regional and international consensus and support towards peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are hopeful that the continued and dedicated work of the QCG going forward will set the Roadmap we have adopted into motion towards steady implementation. We have all invested heavily in this process, which has generated renewed hope for a successful outcome to our joint peace efforts. We, therefore, have a unique opportunity before us. So let us do what we must with strong resolve, sincerity and courage to fulfill our commitments and deliver on the promise of achieving lasting peace in Afghanistan.

Thank you, and I wish you all a successful meeting.

– E N D –

Transcript of Remarks Delivered by H.E. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan At the Munich Security Conference 2016

Munich, 12.02.2016

سخنرانی در کنفرانس (9)

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful.

Ambassador Ischinger, Minister Von Der Leyen, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Let me first deal with context. We are confronting the fifth wave of political violence in a symmetric war in 140 years. Anarchism was the first wave; national self-determination was the second wave; New Left in Japan, Europe, and the United States was the third wave; Jihad against the Soviet Union and struggle in Sri Lanka started the fourth wave; the post-9/11 terrorism constitutes the fifth wave. A narrative combining epistemology, history, and teleology matched by utilization of the information technology of the fourth industrial revolution is translated into a distinct ecology, morphology, and pathology of violence. Our knowledge and response are both fragmented as we are struggling between naming the phenomena, knowing it, and having an action plan on the basis of an aligned strategy to disrupt, overcome, and destroy the fifth wave of terrorism. Symptoms are often addressed, causes are rarely confronted. Voices of analysis are not followed and there’s no common framework. Without a common framework on intelligence that drives use of force, we keep repeating mistakes. While the enemy learns fast, we are slow to adapting. From seeking ungoverned space, the aim of the fifth wave is to establish territories of terror.

My second point is on dimensions and drivers of conflict. I am focusing here on Afghanistan as an illustration. Often times the war is described as a civil war, it is not. First, we have a regional and global conflict. Every country in the region has been exporting its misfits to us; China, Russia, the ‘Stans, particularly and Pakistan, and others. Second is Daesh. When we warned against Daesh, particularly in this conference last year, it was greeted as a way that I wanted to attract attention to Afghanistan. Today, I hope nobody is in denial.

Third, Al-Qaeda: Al-Qaeda is not finished. At a time when we have focused on Daesh’s threat, I hope to God I am wrong, Al- Qaeda has regrouped. And, now we need to deal with a renewed Al-Qaeda threat. The Tehrik-e- Taliban of Pakistan, the Haqqani networks, and others are common threats but, what’s the platform? The criminal economy provides the common platform for all these movements. Narcotics and refugees, smuggling are part of the same network. Unless we focus on the soft belly of globalization, which is the $ 1.7 trillion of criminal economy, we will be addressing only part of the problem, not all of it.

There’s the additional problem. State sponsorship of malign non-state actors continues. Worse, some states behave like non-state actors and this is, of course, driven by the failure to agree and act on rules of the game. All of this combines to have a displacement effect. We address the problem in one part, it results in displacement of the phenomena in the other. And what, from an Afghan and regional perspective, particularly needs attention: action in Syria and Iraq against Daesh is likely to displace it geographically and spatially. We need to define the boundaries of this ecology carefully. Otherwise, we will be missing a significant part of the solution.

Ambassador Ischinger described 2016 as bleak. From an Afghan perspective, I’d like to describe it as one of cautious optimism. I think everybody, in a bleak forecast, needs a ray of hope. An aligned strategy requires, simultaneously, preferably coordinated action in five levels: Global, Islamic, Regional, National, and Sub-national. So, why the good news? First, I’d like to express gratitude to President Obama, Chancellor Merkel, Prime Minister Cameron, Prime Minister Renzi, leaders of 40 countries that have agreed to renew the Resolute Support Mission in support of Afghanistan. NATO, ladies and gentlemen, is fully alive and willing to act responsibly. I’d like to extend a very big thank you to NATO, to its Secretary-General, and to the entire organization. Second, regional support: We have worked very actively with China, with Central Asian states—Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, in particular—India, Iran, Russia, and Turkey through bilateral and multilateral mechanisms. We’re in the process of creating an emerging consensus that, a stable of stable Afghanistan that can tackle the actors and drivers of instability, is in everybody’s benefit. This requires continuous work and because of that, bilateral, trilateral, and multilateral mechanisms all need to be supported but key to this is, the country wants this has to take ownership of the process and not just wait that others act on good will.

On the Islamic dimension, the Mecca Declaration against terrorism is a very, very significant development. For the first time, Muslim scholars are confronting the problem, naming it, and simultaneously exposing the fundamental weaknesses of governance. I hope that this declaration is matched with coherent action and coordination. What is fundamental from an Islamic perspective is who claims to speak for the Islamic civilization, culture, and history. Islamic civilization is a grand synthesis. When we measured the circumference of the Earth, the rest of the world didn’t know that the World was round and that was a thousand years ago. We need claim back our heritage and create a vibrant and comprehensive debate among ourselves so we can work.

The other dimension is national. In here, our emphasis is, first of all, to acknowledge our problems. A country that has inherited the mantle of being, the dishonor of being, among the ten most corrupt countries does not have the right to speak for itself unless it addresses its fundamental corruption. A country that has 41% of its people living below poverty must bear the shame. A country that cannot empower its women, youth, and the poor must bear the responsibility for addressing the fundamentals. So, as a result, we need to get the politics right. It is the politics of empowerment; it’s the politics of creating citizens, and turning the state into an instrument for the realization of the rights and obligations of the citizens.

We are working a compact with our citizens and are in the process—a very difficult process, no doubt—of turning the state into an instrument of the realization of the hopes and aspirations of our citizens. Second is mobilizing for security. Security is not about use of force alone. Every problem is not a nail to be hit with a hammer. A multi-dimensional approach where we take governance, and that’s where sub-national issues come to the front, I’m delighted that we have pioneered for the first time in a couple of hundred years a balance between our governors and cabinet and created written compacts with every single province to I can preside of mechanisms of delivery.

But on Daesh, again, we are very grateful and proud that our partners have agreed now to target Daesh like Al-Qaeda. In the last month, we’ve silenced the voice of Daesh to its radio in one of the most remote mountains of Afghanistan, they are on the run. They’ve lost 150 people but what makes us particularly hopeful, 750 retired Afghan Army officers, all commandos, enlisted in a single day to take on Daesh. Their atrocities have brought back a reversal at the level of narrative that now has resulted in significant mobilization in Eastern Afghanistan, and that’s the key. When people mobilize to tackle terror, it’s a very different approach than when guns alone are used. When people ask for simultaneous use of air power with ground mobilization in a will to push them out, that’s the key to success. Equally, because we have been speaking about refugees and the Minister named us, pull and push factors both need to be addressed.

A country with a 41% rate of poverty forced into a significant recession bordering on a depression and networked globally will produce refugees. We must analyze the root causes and create the condition for stability. The current economic recipes of global institutions for fragile states are not working. If Europe does not want refugees, it has to create the conditions for getting commodities and value chains and linkages. Our people don’t want to move but we need to create the opportunities and it must be on the basis of a just society, where foreign assistance is used to create opportunities and not enrich a few. And, this is key to the public. Because of this, the public must be put first because what makes us trust in the future is our resilience. We have coped with earlier waves of violence, our historic resilience gives us the confidence that will overcome the fifth wave. Second is our latent resources. We are an extraordinarily rich country inhabited by extraordinarily poor people. It has to be reversed. And, our partnership—now based on mutual values, accountability, and mutual trust—should provide a platform for an aligned strategy. We invite governments, firms, and global civil society to join us in deploying the tools of great imagination and creativity to overcome the fifth wave of violence.

Thank you.

– E N D –

Source: http://president.gov.af/en/news/transcript-of-remarks-delivered-by-he-mohammad-ashraf-ghani-president-of-the-islamic-republic-of-afghanistan-at-the-munich-security-conference-2016

Statement by Mr. Hassan Soroosh, Chargé d’Affaires, Delegation of Afghanistan, in response to the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, H.E. Araz Azimov at the OSCE Permanent Council Meeting 1089

Vienna, 11.02.2016

Thank you Mr. Chairman,

At the outset, please allow me to join other distinguished delegations in thanking H.E. Deputy Minister Araz Azimov for his comprehensive address which provided a good overview of the efforts and achievements made by Azerbaijan in recent years including in the areas of economic development and regional cooperation.
I wish to seize this opportunity to highlight that we greatly value the excellent relations and co-operation that exist between our two countries. Since 2002, numerous high-level meetings between Afghanistan and Azerbaijan, including at the heads of state level have taken place, which can be exemplified by the recent visit of H.E. President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani to Baku, in December 2015. We also enjoy fruitful inter-parliamentary relations which will hopefully further grow in the future.
Furthermore, troops from Azerbaijan joined ISAF in 2002 and today, Azerbaijan is contributing to the Resolute Support Mission, for which we are grateful.
We appreciate the generous support from Azerbaijan in terms of the provision of education and training opportunities including for our law enforcement officers and medical personnel. We also appreciate investments made by Azerbaijan, in particular in Afghanistan’s infrastructure. There is also good dynamics in terms of our bilateral trade turnover.
We believe that increased economic ties will complement our long-standing political relations. We see a number of important transit opportunities between Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey including the Lapis-Lazuli-Corridor as one of the shortest and cheapest transit routes in the region.
It is our goal to turn Afghanistan into a regional land-bridge and a hub for regional energy cooperation and in doing so we are trying to share the benefits of our centrality, including through RECCA and the Heart of Asia Process, with countries in the region and beyond, with a view towards enhancing trade and development at both regional and continental levels.
In closing, let me state that we are confident that both our bilateral co-operation as well as our collaboration in multilateral settings – including under the OSCE – will be further strengthened.

 – E N D –

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan receives Ambassadors of European Countries to Kabul

news pic

Kabul, 08.02.2016

H.E. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Salahuddin Rabbani, met this afternoon at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the Ambassadors of Britain, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and Sweden; the Chargé d’Affaires of Norway; and the Deputy Representative of the European Union and the representative of the European Union Police in Afghanistan.

Pointing to the Afghan peace talks, the Minister of Foreign Affairs said, “As a result of three meetings of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) of Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United States and China, the road map of Afghan peace talks has been completed and agreed by the four members. The fourth meeting of (QCG) will be convened on February 23, 2016 in Kabul.”

On commencement of direct talks between the Afg
han government and the Taliban, Minister Rabbani added that based on the decision of (QCG), it is expected that by the end of February this year the date for direct talks will be determined and announced.

While talking on issues of Afghan refugees in the European countries as well as discussions with European Unions and its members, Minister Rabbani added, “The Afghan government wants to reach a comprehensive understanding with European countries before the Brussels and Warsaw meetings.”

Minister Rabbani also added that the Afghan government is seeking support from European countries towards implementing its programs to stop migrants and pave the ground for those who wish to return voluntarily to the country.

– E N D –

Statement by Mr. Hassan Soroosh, Chargé d’Affaires of Afghanistan at a briefing by the INCB President on the 2015 Report

February 03, 2016

Thank you Mr. President,

I would like to join other distinguished delegations in thanking you for convening today’s briefing on the mandate and activities of the INCB as well as on the 2015 Report. We are appreciative of the efforts that are made by the board in the framework of monitoring the international drug control treaties and helping countries with their treaty-based obligations.

I would also like to thank the board for preparing the 2015 report along with the reports on precursors and availability which all together provide a detailed overview of the drug control situation in different parts of the world at a time when we are preparing for the upcoming UNGASS on the World Drug Problem in New York.

Mr. President,

As a prime victim of narcotics and as a country in the front line of the fight against this menace, Afghanistan is committed to continuing its counter narcotics efforts under a holistic and balanced approach and within the newly adopted Afghan National Drug Action Plan (2015-2019). As the findings of the recent Afghanistan Opium Survey, which are also well reflected in the 2015 INCB Report show, there has been a considerable decrease in both cultivation and production of opium as well as an increase in the level of eradication during 2015 in Afghanistan. As noted in the report, there has also been an increase in the counter-narcotics operations in Afghanistan which resulted in considerable law enforcement achievements during this period.

As in the previous years, the findings also show that over 90% of illicit opium poppy cultivation has taken place in the most insecure province in the country which once again suggests that there is a clear link between cultivation of opium and insecurity which remains a major challenge of regional nature for Afghanistan. We therefore believe that addressing the security dimension of the drug problem remains key in the success of counter-narcotics efforts in Afghanistan. Other priorities in our joint counter narcotics efforts should include, among others:

–          Increasing the effectiveness of alternative livelihood programs under the broader sustainable development agenda and in light of the SDGs.

–          Improving operational capacity at both national and regional levels in addressing trafficking in precursors into Afghanistan which remains a major challenge for Afghanistan,

–          Strengthening cooperation and coordination in addressing new trafficking routes and trends,

–          Intensifying efforts to address the financial aspect of drug trafficking at both regional and international levels;

–          And developing a more comprehensive and balanced approach to addressing drug dependency with a particular focus on increasing the treatment capacity, taking into consideration the increasing number of drug users in the country.

Mr. President,

Regional cooperation remains key in addressing the world drug problem. As noted in the report, the Government of Afghanistan has been actively involved in the efforts under various sub-regional and regional counter-narcotics initiatives including the Heart of Asia Process; the Triangular Initiative between Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan; the AKT Initiative between Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan; the UNODC Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighboring Countries as well as the Paris Pact Initiative.

As highlighted in the report, consultation between the Board and the Government of Afghanistan continued in 2015 with a number of high level bilateral meetings including during the CND Session in March last year which provided the opportunity to discuss the achievements,  priorities, new initiatives as well as the challenges facing Afghanistan in countering narcotics. Furthermore, consultation has continued between the board and the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan in Vienna including on the upcoming visit by the Board to Afghanistan which will hopefully take place in the first half of this year.

In conclusion, let me reiterate that while Afghanistan is committed to continuing its counter narcotics efforts at all national, regional and international levels, there is need for continuous international assistance including to the relevant capacity building programs as well as for greater alignment of international assistance behind our needs and priorities as outlined in the new Afghan National Drug Action Plan.

Thank you