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H.E. Ambassador Erfani Attends Economic Excursion

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Fieberbrunn, 19.09.2015

From September 18th to 19th, H.E. Ambassador Erfani took part in an excursion to Fieberbrunn in Tyrol, hosted by the province of Tyrol, SOCIETY Magazine, Toursimusverband PillerseeTal and café+co International Holding GmbH. The excursion was an opportunity to increase economic cooperation. Ambassador Erfani was able to meet with representatives from the province of Tyrol, the municipality of Fieberbrunn and from the Austrian Economic Chambers about the expansion of relationship between countries, including in area of economic cooperation.

During this trip, Ambassador Erfani was able to have a meeting with Mr. Josef Geisler, the Deputy Governor of Tyrol. Ambassador Erfani thanked him and the province of Tyrol for their hospitality and service given to Afghan refugees residing in there. Ambassador Erfani also noted during his meeting that the National Unity Government of Afghanistan is desiring to expand the economic relationship with Austria and committed to addressing the issue of Afghan refugees as one of its main priorities for the coming decade and that it is committed to doing everything possible to create and provide a dignified, safe and peaceful conditions in Afghanistan for those Afghan refugees wishing to voluntarily return home. Ambassador Erfani also raised the possibility of future business opportunities between the government and business in Tyrol and Afghanistan.

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H.E. Ambassador Erfani Commemorates 4th Anniversary of President Rabbani’s Martyrdom

Vienna, 20.09.2015

Today marks the 4th Anniversary since the martyrdom of the late President Rabbani on his 71st birthday on September 20, 2011. One terrorist suicide bomber, who was thought to be delivering a message of peace from anti-government elements, assassinated President Burhanuddin Rabbani who was the head of the High Peace Council of Afghanistan.

H.E. Ambassador Erfani hosted a commemoration ceremony at his residence during which he spoke of the role of H.E. President Rabbani and other martyrs of Afghanistan who lost their lives for the noble cause of freedom, independence, prosperity and the establishment of a broad-based and fully representative government in Afghanistan. The participants prayed for the souls of Afghan martyrs who had dedicated their lives for Afghanistan and prayed also for the establishment of peace and sustainable stability in the country.

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H.E. Ambassador Erfani Delivers Statement to the IAEA 59th General Conference

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Vienna, 16.09.2015

On September 16th, H.E. Ambassador Erfani delivered a statement to the 59th General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency. He began by welcoming the newest members of the IAEA family, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, and Turkmenistan. Ambassador Erfani noted the importance of the General Conference for sharing information and evaluating opportunities to address issues of international peace and nuclear safety and security. He noted the importance of nuclear science and technology to the development of Afghanistan and for achieving the goals of the National Unity Government under the Country Program Framework (2012-2016). Ambassador Erfani was pleased to report that the Parliament of Afghanistan has ratified Afghanistan’s Nuclear Act, drafted by the Afghanistan Atomic Energy High Commission (AAEHC) with the IAEA’s assistance on 10 September 2015.

Ambassador Erfani noted the importance of the relationship and technical cooperation between the IAEA and Afghanistan and said that, “Recent technical cooperation projects between Afghanistan and the IAEA revolved around three key projects: The establishment of a Radiation Oncology Centre; a Radiology Diagnostic Centre; and Radiotherapy and Radiology Services in Kabul. Afghanistan appreciates the support that has been received from the IAEA technical cooperation projects and looks forward to the expansion of such cooperation in future projects.” Ambassador Erfani reaffirmed Afghanistan’s commitment to continued efforts to further develop the institutional and regulatory framework required for peaceful nuclear technology applications. He reaffirmed that, “Afghanistan continues to fully support the establishment of a nuclear-weapons-free-zone in the Middle East and respective consultations to achieve this goal. We emphasize the central role of the IAEA in this process. The Government of Afghanistan welcomes any confidence and security building measures in this region, as well as any similar positive steps towards elimination of WMD arsenals.” Ambassador Erfani concluded by welcoming the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreed between the IR of Iran and EU3+3  on 14 July 2015 and added that, “We congratulate the IR of Iran, the United States and the other negotiating partners on the historic outcome, and we encourage all sides to take every effort for the implementation of this agreement.”

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H.E. Ambassador Erfani met with Young Afghan Diplomats at the OSCE

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Vienna, 16.09.2015

Today H.E. Ambassador Erfani, along with two diplomats from the Afghan Delegation, met with up-and-coming young diplomats from Afghanistan during a special meeting at the OSCE. The meeting was hosted by the Permanent Mission of Germany to welcome young diplomats of the various Central Asian countries, including Afghanistan. The group of young diplomats were part of an international training programme organized by the German Foreign Office concerning the formation of young diplomats from all over the world. During their stay in Vienna, the young diplomats visited the OSCE and various International Organisations to get an insight into the functioning and activities of their respective missions.

During the meeting, Ambassador Erfani briefed the young Afghan diplomats various aspects of the work completed here in Vienna at various international oganisations including the UN, OSCE, UNIDO, IAEA and CTBTO. Ambassador Erfani noted the importance of training and first-hand experience for young diplomats. He congratulated the young diplomats on their efforts to improve their skills and knowledge in order to best represent Afghanistan in international affairs.

Ambassador Erfani thanked the H.E. Permanent Representative of Germany to the OSCE, Ambassador Eberhard Pohl, and the coordinators of the Young Diplomats Programme meeting. Ambassador Erfani added that Germany throughout history has proved to be a great friend of Afghanistan and for the last 14 years, has been an active member of the international community in the stabilization process in Afghanistan. Ambassador Erfani concluded specially thanked Germany for coordinating this capacity building activity and noted that capacity building remains an essential area in particular for the young generation who are a promising factor in our future.

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Minister of Counter Narcotics, Minister Azimi, Meets with Women of the Afghan Community

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Vienna, 17.09.2015

On Saturday, September 12, H.E. Minister Azimi met with women of the Afghan community in Vienna at a reception hosted by H.E. Ambassador Erfani in his residence. At the outset, H.E. Ambassador Erfani welcomed H.E. Minister Aimi and the group of 60 women and emphasized the importance of the empowerment of women in Afghanistan as vital for a prosperous and democratic Afghanistan. Ambassador Erfani introduced Minister Azimi to the intelligent, educated and committed women of the Afghan community based in Vienna and briefed the women gathered on the programs and activities of Minister Azimi during her time in Vienna. Minister Azimi’s programme included visiting Vienna in order to attend and speak at the Organization for Security Cooperation in Europe Conference on Illicit Drugs Among Young People as well as attending a briefing at the VIC where she made a presentation on the ongoing situation in the country. During both meetings, Minister Azimi reaffirmed the commitment of the government of Afghanistan in the fight against drugs.

During her reception with women from the Afghan community, Minister Azimi briefed the participants on the situation in the country for women and children, as well as addicted women and children. Minister Azimi expressed her commitment on behalf of the National Unity Government of Afghanistan to work Afghan people residing in Europe, including on issues relating to further developing rights for women, children in particular those women and children struggling with addiction. She took questions from the women on the rights for women, children, and addicts and entered into an open discussion of how Afghan women abroad can contribute to the well-being of women and children in Afghanistan, particularly those struggling with addiction.

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International Day of Democracy

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Vienna, 15.09.2015

Today’s International Day of Democracy reminds us about the importance of a democratic, pluralistic and free society and the inalienable rights of all of our citizens. Afghanistan’s young democracy has made significant progress and political participation, including among women, and is continuously growing.

We adopted a democratic constitution, held presidential, parliamentary and provincial council elections, established ministries, institutions, the rule of law, a free and independent media landscape, and we are proud of our dedicated civil society. The theme of this year’s International Day of Democracy is “Space for Civil Society” and we are committed to strengthening the ability of civil society organizations in the country as civic participation constitutes an important means for democratic, social and economic progress.

Afghanistan is a member of the Community of Democracies, a global intergovernmental coalition of more than one hundred democratic states. Last year’s inauguration of President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani marked our country’s first democratic transfer of power. We have accomplished our democratic goals through hard work and many sacrifices by the Afghan people and our international partners.

We will continue our work toward good governance, promoting democratic values and norms. 

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H.E. Minister Azimi, Minister of Counter Narcotics, Addresses OSCE Conference on Illicit Drugs among Young People

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Vienna, 10.09.2015

Today as part of the two day conference hosted by the OSCE on the “Enhancement of Mechanisms to Cope with Increasing Spread of Illicit Drugs amongst Young People”, H.E. Minister Azimi delivered a speech giving an overview of the drug control situation in Afghanistan. She noted that poppy cultivation had increased by 7% compared with previous years. Tragically, Afghanistan also witnessed an alarming increase in the rate of addiction in its people with recent surveys showing approximately 2.9 to 3.6 million Afghans could test positive for one or more drugs and 1.0 to 1.2 million of these people are children. Minister Azimi noted several challenges for Afghanistan in dealing with the drug problem, including: ineffective alternative livelihood programs and insufficient resources in the area of addiction treatment.

Success in countering narcotics will be gained through addressing the growing link between drug trade and terrorism and focusing on the root causes of illicit drug cultivation including poverty, unemployment, and lack of alternative livelihood. Minister Azimi also noted that The drivers of drug business at regional and international levels need to be addressed with a special focus on its financial aspect in combination with intensified efforts to combat trafficking in precursors. Overall success in Afghanistan, the region and the world will only come about with increased cooperation and coordination in counter narcotic efforts through information sharing. Minister Azimi further noted that More resources are needed to address the root causes of drug use among young people as well as to strengthen preventive measures including awareness raising among young people. She sees a a great potential in civil society institutions in helping with preventive measures.

Minister Azimi concluded noting that, “The National Unity Government of Afghanistan remains committed to the elimination of opium economy. In few weeks, the new Counter Narcotics Strategy of Afghanistan and the new Drug Control Action Plan will be shared with the international community which will set the priorities and the implementation plans for the years to come.” Further to this, she noted that, “While we are grateful for the support that has been provided by the international community to our counter narcotics efforts in the past 14 years including by the OSCE participating states and partners for cooperation, I hope that we will witness even greater support to the implementation of our new counter narcotics strategy and the relevant action plan in the years to come.”

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The Minister of Counter Narcotics of Afghanistan, H.E. Minister Azimi, Addresses UNGASS on World Drug Problem

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Vienna, 10.09.2015

Today, the Minister of Counter Narcotics Afghanistan, H.E. Minister Azimi, addressed for a second time the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the World Drug Problem. In her address, she presented an overview of the counter narcotics efforts in Afghanistan, the emerging challenges and trends as well as the initiatives being undertaken in Afghanistan under the new counter narcotics strategy.

Minister Azimi noted the progress made by Afghanistan in cooperation with the international partners over the past 14 years but despite this progress, illicit narcotics continue to inflict a great deal of damage to Afghan society, the broader region and the world. Minister Azimi elaborated that the first challenge in counter narcotics is that organized crime groups continue to strengthen in the region and abroad including the trafficking of drugs and drug precursors to Afghanistan. She called for improved border security and continued cooperation and support from the international community. A second, challenge is the alarming increase in those addicted to drugs in Afghanistan in recent years. Minister Azimi noted that there are three million addicts in the country with 9% being children and 11% women. She called for integrated efforts in both prevention and treatment to address this tragic phenomenon. The third challenge to be faced is that those farmers involved in poppy cultivation must do so for their livelihood, yet receive only 4% of the 61$ billion illicit drug business. Minister Azimi called for provision of sustainable livelihoods which must be a part of the broader economic development agenda.

In her conclusion, Minister Azimi noted, “The National Unity Government of Afghanistan remains committed to the elimination of opium economy. The new Counter Narcotics Strategy of Afghanistan and the relevant action plan will soon be shared with the international community which will set the priorities and the implementation plans for the years to come… While we are committed to the implementation of such programs and initiatives, we will need continued long-term and demand-driven support to our counter narcotics efforts in the years to come. Our international partners have already provided considerable support including through UNODC, for which we are grateful.”


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H.E. Ambassador Efani Welcomes H.E. Minister Azimi to the UN General Assembly on World Drug Problem

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Vienna, 10.09.2015

H.E. Ambassador Erfani, in his role as Vice-Chair of the Board tasked by the Counter Narcotics Division with the preparations for the UN General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem in 2016, welcomed the Minister of Counter Narcotics of Afghanistan, H.E. Minister Azimi. He noted that UNGASS on the World Drug Problem in 2016 is crucial for shaping collective efforts in light of new challenges, trends and realities toward accomplishing counter narcotic targets.

Ambassador Erfani thanked the international community for their continued support towards Afghanistan and noted that while Afghanistan has come far in the last 14 years, challenges remain and support is still needed. He noted that Minister Azimi would speak on the main challenges still faced by Afghanistan in terms of illicit narcotics as well as the commitments and programs Afghanistan has for the next three years to address the challenges of drugs. After Minister Azimi’s speech, Ambassador Erfani chaired comments from the delegates present and thank them for their continued interest and support for Afghanistan and for their commitment in the truly global fight against narcotics.

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Welcoming Remarks by H.E. Mr. Ayoob M. ERFANI, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations in Vienna In his capacity as Vice-Chair of the Board tasked by the CND with the preparations for the special session of UNGASS-2016

Vienna, 10.09.2015

Excellencies, dear colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to extend to you all a very warm welcome to today’s event and let me warmly welcome H.E. Minister Azimi and her team to Vienna. At the outset, let me thank Mr. Aldo Lale-Demoz, Director of the Division for Operations at UNODC, who has joined us for today’s event, for briefing us about UNODC’s engagement in Afghanistan. This meeting is held in the context of the preparations, which the Commission is undertaking for the Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on the World Drug Problem in 2016.  In the course of this process, many informal events and meetings are being organized – in addition to more formal proceedings. This underlines the inclusive nature and enriches the process.

H.E. Ms. Salamat AZIMI was already with us here on 26 June this year, at the occasion of the Special Event of the Commission commemorating the United Nations International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, during which the 2015 World Drug Report was launched. I am pleased that we have yet another opportunity to welcome her here today. H.E. Minister Azimi will provide us an overview of Afghanistan’s counter narcotics efforts at the national level, the emerging challenges and trends as well as the initiatives that the Ministry of Counter Narcotics is undertaking under H.E.’s  leadership, including through the new counter narcotics strategy.

The United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem in 2016 will be crucial to shape our collective efforts in light of the new challenges, trends and realities toward accomplishing our counter narcotics targets as set out in the 2009 “Political Declaration and Plan of Action on International Cooperation towards an Integrated and Balanced Strategy to Counter the World Drug Problem”.

Afghanistan, thanks to the continued support by its partner in the IC, has come a long way over the past 14 years and has made significant progress in all social, economic, security areas. 2014 was a year of political, security and economic transition and marked the start of the transformation decade in Afghanistan.  Despite our efforts and achievements, we are still facing challenges in the country, including those associated with the menace of narcotics. The Ministry of Counter Narcotics of Afghanistan, as a policy-making body is leading and coordinating all counter narcotics efforts in the country and is making every effort to eliminate the opium economy in the country, including through development and implementation of new programs as was announced by H.E.’s 100-day plan.

H.E. Minister Azimi is here today with us to talk about the main challenges that Afghanistan is facing of in terms of illicit narcotics, Afghanistan’s commitments and programs for the coming 3 years to address the challenges of Drugs, and Afghanistan’s expectation from the upcoming UNGASS.

I now have the honour to give the floor to H.E.Ms. Salamat AZIMI, Minister of Counter-Narcotics of Afghanistan for her remarks. Thank you.