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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.

 

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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Ambassador Erfani addresses UNODC anti-corruption meeting

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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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Afghan Peace Ambassador Visits Vienna and Meets the Vice-President of the Austrian National Olypmic Committee

Afghan Cyclists with Austrian Olympic Committee VPAfghan Cyclists

Vienna, 27.08.2015

Dr. Nader Shah Nangahari, a dentist by profession and a passionate cyclist, is currently undertaking — for the second time — a bike tour around the globe. This time accompanied by his son.

In 2002, Dr. Nangahari departed on a bike tour to convey a message by the Afghan people – a message of peace, friendship and cooperation among humanity.

His first trip, 2002-2003, took him from Afghanistan to Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, the United Kingdom, and finally, the United States.

Upon his return to Afghanistan, he was awarded the title of hero by the Afghan Government and a medal by the Afghan National Olympic Committee. From 2003 onwards, he visited different regions of Afghanistan to share his vast experience and advocate for the education and empowerment of women.

This year, Dr. Nangahari is repeating his successful initiative. Yesterday, he and his son stopped in Vienna for meetings at the Afghan Embassy and Permanent Mission (second photo), and with Mr. Otto Flum, Vice-President of the Austrian National Olympic Committee (first photo). Also, Wiener Zeitung daily newspaper conducted an interview with Dr. Nangahari.

“My country Afghanistan has achieved much progress over the past fourteen years and has become a better place to live for the Afghan people, thanks to the sacrifices of the Afghan people and the generous support by the International Community”, Dr. Nangahari stated during the meeting with Mr. Flum.

“However, security still remains a serious challenge for peace and stability in the country. The main purpose of my trip this year is to convey to the International Community that the Afghan people, as a peace-loving people, are tired of war and foreign intervention”, he continued.

He concluded by stating, “We are grateful for the assistance provided to us by our international friends and partners. I would like to call on the international community to continue their support for the Afghan people and for peace and stability in the country.” Dr. Nangahari thanked Mr. Flum for the warm welcome and friendly hospitality.

Dr. Nangahari’s message is a message of peace and solidarity with the International Community, in the spirit of Olympic solidarity and ideals to live in peace and harmony with each other.

During their stay in Vienna, the two cyclists were guests of the Embassy and Permanent Mission of Afghanistan. Embassy staff accompanied them to the Czech border from where they continued their trip to Prague.

Ambassador Erfani Attends Commemoration of 14 Year Anniversary of Assassination of Afghanistan’s National Hero, Ahmad Shah Massoud

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Vienna, 24.08.2015

On Sunday, August 23, 2015 the Afghan community in Vienna, coordinated by the Youth Leadership Organization of Vienna, observed the 14th anniversary of the assassination of the National Hero Ahmad Shah Massoud. Ambassador Erfani was invited to participate in this event and address those in attendance.

In his opening statement, Ambassador Erfani praised the struggle and sacrifice of all Afghans from all ethnic groups, among them the late President Prof. Rabbani, Ahmad Shah Massoud, Abdul Ali Mazari, Motalliab Beg, Commander Abdul Haq and other martyrs, who lost their lives for the independence, peace, and stability of Afghanistan. Ambassador Erfani also applauded Ahmad Shah Massoud as a National Hero of Afghanistan, who spent his life to defend Afghanistan against the foreign intervention and terrorism, was assassinated on September 9, 2001. He noted that memories of Ahmad Shah Massoud and all other heroes and martyrs who sacrificed their lives for freedom, peace and stability in Afghanistan should not be limited to celebrating anniversaries but also must serve as a vision and goal for the cause of peace and stability for all of humanity.

Ambassador Erfani mentioned that Ahmad Shah Massoud, who put his life on the line for well-being of the Afghan people, called for the establishment of a broad based national government where all Afghans were represented through elections and democratic processes. He stated that this vision must lead us today into the future to ensure the programme of the National Unity Government for a stable and prosperous Afghanistan.

Ambassador Erfani was awarded a certificate by the Youth Leadership Organization of Vienna in appreciation and recognition of his service as Ambassador to Austria and Permanent Representative to the International Organizations in Vienna.

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Ambassador Erfani addressed the conference of Afghan diaspora, titled “What is our Role in the Future of Afghanistan?”

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Vienna, 24 August 2015

On Saturday, August 22, 2015, AKIS (afghanische Kultur, Integration, Solidarität) and the Organization for Solidarity with Afghan Refugees in Europe (Verein Solidarität mit afghanischen Flüchtlingen in Europa) in collaboration with Afghan associations and NGO’s in Vienna, organized a conference, titled “What is our Role in the Future of Afghanistan?”.

In his opening statement to participants, H.E. Ambassador Erfani, praised the organizers of the conference for bringing together the Afghan diaspora to discuss the situation in Afghanistan and the role of the Afghan diaspora in the future of the country. He welcomed the wide variety of participants, including a delegation from Afghanistan, Afghans living in Austria, and other Afghan expatriates, commending their interest to do their part for the future of Afghanistan.

During his statement, H.E. Ambassador Erfani briefed the participants on the ongoing situation in Afghanistan, referring to the decade long achievements made in Afghanistan, gained thanks to the sacrifice of Afghan people in combination with support from the international community. He also emphasized the important role of Afghan expatriates to contribute in strengthening the current achievements and progress made in the country and to support the National Unity Government of Afghanistan to implement its programs for the success of the Decade of Transformation, and among them the ongoing efforts to preserve peace, achieve stability and promote economic development for the country.

The key note speakers of the conference delivered their comprehensive statements which created an opportunity for an open question and answer session followed by the adoption of the findings of the conference. Diplomats from the Embassy and Permanent Mission of Afghanistan in Vienna also attended the conference.

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Ambassador Erfani Delivers Statement at IAEA Board of Governors on E3/EU+3 and Iran Nuclear Agreement

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Vienna, 25.08.2015

H.E. Ambassador Erfani delivered a statement at today’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors on Verification and Monitoring in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Ambassador Erfani thanked IAEA Director General Amano for his report and expressed Afghanistan’s support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), aiming at a peaceful and diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear issue and the essential role of the IAEA in this regard.

Ambassador Erfani applauded the efforts of the negotiators who facilitated the JCPOA and urged member states to fully cooperate with the IAEA for successful implementation of the JCPOA and the road-map signed by the IAEA and Iran.

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Delegation of Afghan Parliamentarians attended 12th General Meeting of the International Parliamentarians’ Coalition for North Korean Refugees and Human Rights


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Vienna, 17.08.2015

On Wednesday and Thursday, 12 and13 August, a delegation of Afghan parliamentarians participated in the 12th General Meeting of the International Parliamentarian’s Coalition for North Korean Refugees and Human Rights.  As head of the delegation, Mr. Sediqi delivered a statement in the opening session of the conference.

Referring to the situation of Afghanistan, Mr. Sediqi stated,

 “Afghanistan’s parliamentarians will always advocate for the promotion and protection of human rights of refugees including those from North Korea and anywhere else on our globe and hope that our joint efforts under various frameworks including under IPCNKR will effectively contribute to this end.

The matter of refugees has become a serious issue more recently, not only for Afghanistan but for the international community as a whole. We are confronted with a global challenge that requires sober and practical action, upholding the unalienable rights of refugees.

Afghanistan will do its part to address the challenges faced by refugees and we thank our partners in the international community for their continued cooperation and assistance to overcome this serious, humanitarian challenge.”

In the course of their visit the delegation also conducted bilateral meetings with other participating delegations and attended dinners hosted by Japan, Korea, and the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan.  Additionally, Mr. Sediqi met with a journalist from the Winer Zeitung to discuss the current political situation facing Afghanistan.

Throughout their visit the delegation was accompanied by Ambassador Erfani to bilateral meetings where they discussed the current situation of the country and effective ways of Afghanistan’s partners continued cooperation with the country.  Particular emphasis was placed on strengthening the relationship between parliaments throughout the decade of transformation in Afghanistan, 2015-2025.

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Translation of Remarks by President Ashraf Ghani at a Press Conference

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August 10, 2015

In the name of Allah, the most merciful, the most compassionate

Dear compatriots, over the last few days, we witnessed to some significant developments in our county and the region. The war methods have changed against Afghans. The peace process is facing new questions. Furthermore, our people need to know where the Afghanistan-Pakistan relations are heading. I would like to further discuss these issues.

At the very outset, I would like to pay my heartfelt tributes and prayers to all those killed in the recent terrorist attacks and condolences to their families. I also wish a quick recovery for all those injured.

You must recall that we and those who are informed of the situation in our country and region had predicted that this year would be the most difficult of all since the Bonn process. The reason is clear. The withdrawal of over 100,000 highly equipped international military forces plus the transfer to Afghan forces of the entire responsibility to counter threats – a development that was not unforeseeable. International observers had predicted that Afghanistan may not be able to deal with this new situation even for a few days. Our enemies had been waiting for a power vacuum so they could take advantage of and see the government collapse. However, none of the gloomy predictions turned to reality. The enemies were disappointed. Our defense and security forces quickly filled in the gap left behind by the international forces and defeated the enemies on all fronts. Let me express my deepest gratitude to our brave sons and daughters in uniform for all the sacrifices they are making.

On the political ground, a recent significant development was that Mullah Omar was not alive. It was our intelligence agency which confirmed the death of Mullah Omar and revealed the lies and fabrications. This confirmation not only demonstrated the strength and maturity of our intelligence agency, but also reaffirmed the fact that the war in Afghanistan is fought for and by others and that the so-called Amir-ul-Momenin, who apparently led and commanded the war, might not have even existed.

Terrorism is a vast and a widespread concern. The terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, Turkey and other Muslim countries are of the same nature. These attacks pursue no goals but to collapse states and state system in the region. This was for this particular reason that a grand gathering of Muslim scholars in the city of Makkah condemned these attacks. As I reaffirmed it in the Shanghai Summit in Russia, we will continue to make every effort to overcome this phenomenon, and to build a regional consensus for effective cooperation to that end.

The recent series of attacks in Kabul and other provinces show that the war has changed shape. The enemy who was fighting to gain some territory and to claim a victory has now had its backbone broken. It is so desperate now that it has turned to cowardly attacks against innocent people just to weaken people’s morale.

In my conversation last night with Pakistan’s Prime Minister and the Chief of Army Staff, I made it clear that the government of Pakistan should have the same definition of terrorism in regard to Afghanistan, just as it has for its own. During my visit to Pakistan last November, we affirmed our full commitment for peace and made it clear that peace had two aspects: peace with Pakistan and peace with Taliban.

We discussed the common opportunities and threats. We made it very clear to the Pakistani side that a new window of opportunity has opened and depending on the capacity and the will of the Pakistani leadership to change the window into a door and then to an alley and even a highway, or shut it all together.

Over the past ten months, we have persistently shown that Afghanistan has both the will and enough capacity to this end. We have shared intelligence with the Pakistani side so that both could carry out a comprehensive and targeted anti-terrorism campaign to rid our nations of violence. We waited all this long for Pakistan to demonstrate its will through action.

However, Pakistan still remains a venue and ground for gatherings from which mercenaries send us messages of war. The incidents of the past two months in general and the recent days in particular show that the suicide training camps and the bomb making facilities used to target and murder our innocent people still operate, as in the past, in Pakistan. Just as the incident in Peshawar and the killing of hundreds of innocent children in a school became a turning point in Pakistan, the recent incidents in Kabul and other provinces are no less and we call it a turning point for Afghanistan.

Our righteousness has been proven and everyone in the region knows we made all sincere efforts for peace. The decisions that Pakistani government will be making in the next few weeks will be as significant to affect bilateral relations for the next decades. The security of our people and the national interests of Afghanistan lay the basis of our relationship with Pakistan. We can no longer tolerate to see our people bleeding in a war exported and imposed on us from outside.

In my conversation last night, Pakistan Prime Minister pledged to direct his government to chart out an action plan against terrorism and to discuss and decide on its implementation during a trip by an Afghan delegation in the coming Thursday.

We hoped for peace, but war is declared against us from Pakistani territory; this in fact puts into a display a clear hostility against a neighboring country.

I ask the government and people of Pakistan to imagine that a terrorist attack just like the one in Kabul’s Shah Shahid area took place in Islamabad and the groups behind it had sanctuaries in Afghanistan and ran offices and training centers in our big cities, what would have been your reaction? Will you have looked at us as friends or enemies?

I would like to call on those Taliban who do not want their country destroyed and their people killed, to quit the ranks of criminals and insurgents and to reintegrate into their society. Today, the resources that should have been spent on building factories, hospitals and on other development projects are spent for defense and fighting a war exported to us by others.

The people of Afghanistan are all Muslims, so Islam is not the issue in this war. The political system in Afghanistan is based on the religion of Islam, and all the research shows that the Constitution of Afghanistan compared to those in the neighborhood, is enriched with Islamic values and ideas. Islamic scholars believe that having a system, even weak and rife with defects, is a lot better than not having a system at all. Islam is a religion of peace and stability. According to Islamic Sharia, anyone engaged in acts to destabilize and wreck security in a society and kill Muslims, is described as insurgent and warmonger.

Again, the main question is how can those who claim to have been acting on Sharia can be this careless to the massacre of the innocent people? What would be their response to Aya 32, Sora Almaida of the Holy Quran which says, “Whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely.”?

There will be no flexibility of any kind with the criminals. We have directed the courts and the judicial authorities to show no leniency with those who have our people’s blood on their hand and those who respond the peace call with war and criminality will undoubtedly receive maximum punishment.

We very well know who stands in the way peace and why they do so. Whoever is engaged in criminality, narcotics, and atrocities, and whoever works for the outsiders to destroy Afghanistan is the enemy of peace. Such people fear peace, they fear rule of law and fear a stable and peaceful Afghanistan. Experience has shown that whenever there is a chance for peace, enemies are irritated and resort to violence and brutality. However, we have not and will not allow any such acts to deter us from our quest for peace or to force us into giving warmongers any concessions. We will make peace only with those who believe in the meaning of being a human, Muslim and Afghan and who do not destroy their own country on order from foreign masters.

I call on and request our politicians to do their utmost to keep this nation together at this critical juncture and to refrain from any actions that spread suspicions and disunity from which enemy may benefit.

Very luckily, Afghan youth are more willing today than ever to join the ranks of their country’s armed forces. Consistent to the demand, we have also adjusted and increased our recruitment volume up to 9 percent.

Let me conclude by a last remark on the relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Our relation with Pakistan is based on our national interests, on top of which comes security and safety of our people. If our people continue to be killed, relations lose meaning and I hope it will not happen.

Thank you