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Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai Attends the 22nd Meeting of the OSCE Ministerial Council in Belgrade

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Belgrade, 04.12.2015

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Hekmat Khalil Karzai, attended the 22nd Meeting of the OSCE Ministerial Council in Belgrade from 3-4 December 2015. In his statement at the plenary, Deputy Minister Karzai shared an overview of the ongoing efforts and processes in Afghanistan as well as the Afghan perspective of the security challenges facing the country and the wider OSCE region. Deputy Minister Karzai highlighted the relevance of the OSCE’s vision and goals in today’s security environment. His statement also included an overview of Afghanistan’s regional cooperation agenda under the Heart of Asia Process and RECCA as well as Afghanistan’s engagement with the OSCE, focusing on areas of cooperation that can be further expanded in the future. Deputy Minister Karzai also had a statement at the Meeting of the OSCE Troika with the OSCE Asian Partners and shared the Afghan perspective of ways to strengthen partnership between the OSCE and the Asia Partners for Cooperation.  In this context, he highlighted the importance of greater cooperation and coordination between the OSCE and the two Afghanistan-focused regional cooperation frameworks: the Istanbul-Heart of Asian Process and RECCA. During his two-day visit to Belgrade, Deputy Minister Karzai also had bilateral meetings with the heads of delegation of Norway, Thailand, Moldova, Mongolia, the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Foreign Minister and First Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia, where they discussed the prospects of bilateral relations and the need for exploring new areas of cooperation at a bilateral level. Also discussed during these meetings was the need for enhanced regional and international cooperation in addressing transnational security threats. Deputy Minister Karzai also had a meeting with the OSCE Secretary General and discussed with him various aspects of the OSCE’s engagement with Afghanistan and ways to expand the present partnership between the two parties. Deputy Minister Karzai expressed hope that engagement with Afghanistan will remain a key priority of the OSCE’s agenda in the coming years.

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UNODC Working Group on Trafficking in Persons

Vienna, 16.11.2015 – 18.11.2015

The Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the International Organizations in Vienna participated in the UNODC’s meeting of the Working Group on Trafficking in Persons held from November 16-18, 2015. During this Working Group, in regards to the agenda item on “National coordination mechanisms against trafficking in persons”, Mr. Hassan Soroosh, Counselor, gave a statement on Afghanistan’s experience with this agenda item. This was the first time the Afghan delegation was able to join this working group meeting, following the accession last August to the ‘Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children’. Afghanistan has been one of the countries most affected in connection to the trafficking in persons. Over the past few years, the government of Afghanistan has made considerable efforts to improve legal, institutional and policy frameworks for combating crimes of abduction and trafficking in persons. Noteworthy is the 2008 law adopted on combating abduction and trafficking in persons and the establishment of the High Commission for Combating Crimes of Abduction and Trafficking in Persons. The High Commission has since established provincial anti-trafficking commissions in most provinces and worked on coordinating their activities country-wide. In the conclusion of the remarks, it was state that, “while we are appreciative of the technical assistance provided to our anti-trafficking efforts including through UNODC over the past few years, there is greater need for such technical assistance including in strengthening the existing national coordination mechanism. We believe that there is also need for better coordination at a regional level among national coordination mechanisms and the UNODC has an important role in creating such a regional network for coordination.”

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UNODC Working Group on Smuggling of Migrants

Vienna, 18.11.2015 – 20.11.2015

The Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the International Organizations in Vienna and a representative from the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation of Afghanistan participated in the 3rd meeting of the Working Group on the Smuggling of Migrants held from November 18-20, 2015. During this Working Group in regards to the agenda item on “Practical measures to prevent the smuggling of migrants and children, in particular unaccompanied children, such as the issuance of visas on arrival, public information campaigns and training sessions on fraudulent documents”, Mr. Hassan Soroosh, Counselor, gave a statement on Afghanistan’s experience. It was noted that Afghanistan has been until recently the world’s largest country of origin for global refugees over the last three decades. In order to address issues of migration and repatriation, the government of Afghanistan established the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation to develop policies and programs to address different aspects of migration and repatriation. Recent steps by the National Unity Government of Afghanistan was to work on developing refugee laws and to this end, the High Commission for Refugees was established. It was noted that, “Preventing smuggling of migrants is a key component of our national agenda in addressing the issue of migration and combined law enforcement measures and public awareness campaigns have been carried out by the Government. However, given the socio economic root causes of migration, the Afghan Government is trying to create an enabling socio-economic condition that can contribute to the prevention of smuggling of migrants.” Further steps made by the government to address these issues include the launch of the National Employment Program in November 2015 by H.E. President Ghani, which aims to create job opportunities in both urban and rural areas across the country. In conclusion, it was stated that Afghanistan believes there is a need for greater technical assistance in support of the law enforcement and public awareness measures.

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Statement by the Delegation of Afghanistan at the OSCE Special Permanent Council Meeting on recent terrorist attacks in Paris

Thank you Mr. Chairman,

On behalf of the Delegation of Afghanistan, I would like to express our deepest sympathy and condolences to the government and people of France over the recent terrorist attacks in Paris that claimed the lives of many innocent people and injured many others. As a prime victim of terrorism, the people of Afghanistan feel the pain of the People of France and share their grief at this difficult time.

As stated in a statement by H.E.  President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani:

“The barbaric and indiscriminate killing of innocent citizens in Paris is virtually horrible and demonstrates the fact that the terrorists are the enemies of humanity and do not recognize any border,”

Another statement by H.E. Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah reads:

“These terrorist attacks against humanity indicate that the terrorists do not know any boundary, religion and nation. They always try to cause tragedy, fear and horror among the nations.”

Mr. Chairman,

Such terrorist attacks once again remind us of the need for sustained and collective actions at all levels in fighting terrorism as well as the need for supporting countries that are in the front line of fighting this menace.

Ambassador Erfani Delivers Remarks at Europe – Eurasia Leadership Conference 2015

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Vienna, 30.10.2015

From Friday, October 30th to Saturday, October 31st, the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna hosted the Europe-Eurasia Leadership Conference titled “Eurasia and Europe Dialogue: Building Trust and Securing Cooperation for Sustainable Development”. H.E. Ambassador Erfani was invited to the conference and delivered a statement at the close of Friday’s session. Ambassador Erfani spoke on Afghanistan’s 15 years achievements and focused on “Engaging Women and youth in Afghanistan’s Transformation”. He noted that women and youth in Afghanistan will continue to play an important role in Afghanistan becoming a prosperous and peaceful country. The National Unity Government of Afghanistan is committed to bringing women full equality and security and increasing their involvement in development, government and society. Ambassador Erfani remarked on the importance of the work to be done during Afghanistan’s Decade of Transformation (2015-2024), which will be successful due to the commitment of the men and women of Afghanistan. The goals to be tackled include implementing the constitution for a new agenda and reshaping the country and its status in the region and the world. Ambassador Erfani also remarked on Afghanistan’s importance as a bridge connecting the region and beyond for promoting trade, transit and most importantly connecting people and civilizations.  Ambassador Erfani concluded by saying that women and youth are the best hope for peace, sustainability and development in Afghanistan so that Afghanistan is reedy to play its important role as a bridge in the region.

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Ambassador Erfani Delivers Statement at the UNODC

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Vienna, 28.10.2015

H.E. Ambassador Erfani delivered a statement today at the sixth session of the UNODC’s meeting of the Working Group on International Cooperation. He noted to the participants that, “Despite our collective efforts at a global level to counter transnational organized crime, various forms of crime including the new and emerging ones continue to threaten our societies.” He stated Afghanistan’s support for the work done over the years by the Working Group on International Cooperation. Ambassador Erfani praised the UNODC for developing tools to help Member States take action in fighting transnational organized crime, such as the SHERLOC knowledge management portal.

Ambassador Erfani stated that, “Afghanistan continues to suffer as a prime victim of the challenges that terrorism, narcotics, human trafficking, migrant smuggling and other various forms of transnational organized crime pose to our country. As a state party to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, the Government of Afghanistan has been actively involved in cooperation at all bilateral, regional and international levels in countering various forms of organized crime and has recently signed extradition agreements with neighboring and regional countries in accordance with its new Law on Extradition. The Government of Afghanistan has also been in the process of negotiating and concluding a number of other bilateral judicial agreements with neighboring and regional countries.” In concluding his remarks, Ambassador Erfani stated that, “Afghanistan is making every effort to build its national capacity to implement its obligations under the relevant regional and international mechanisms to fight transnational organized crime and we will need our partners continued cooperation to this end.”

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Reminder: Embassy/Consulate closed on October 26th

Please note: the Embassy, Consulate and Permanent Mission of Afghanistan in Vienna will be closed on Monday, October 26th for the Austrian National Day Holiday. Normal Consulate/Embassy/Permanent Mission services will resume on Tuesday, October 27th.

Ambassador Erfani speaks at OSCE Asian Contact Group Meeting

11225348_1632973403652128_7738566875833571843_nVienna, 16.10.2015

On October 16th, Ambassador Erfani delivered a presentation on “Afghanistan’s Decade of Transformation and Gender Dynamics” at this year’s final meeting of the OSCE Asian Contact Group. After thanking the group’s Chairperson, Ambassador Claude Wild of Switzerland, for the warm welcome and introduction, Ambassador Erfani provided a brief overview about the historical perspective concerning the situation of women in Afghanistan. The Ambassador then highlighted accomplishments achieved since 2001, including a solid framework of both domestic and international legal instruments, institutional building, political commitment, democratic structures and elections, the role of media, and civil society engagement.

“Despite challenging security conditions in some areas of the country, due to terrorists’ activities, we have managed to enable women to regain their historic role as a powerful force for change and progress in our society,” the Ambassador said. Ambassador Erfani also emphasized the remaining and emerging challenges in the empowerment of women noting that, “Work to improve the situation of women in Afghanistan is in progress, but we accept that there is much more to do.”12111954_1632973400318795_8963704946664707409_n

The Ambassador stated that there is strong commitment by the President of Afghanistan, H.E. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, by the Chief Executive of Afghanistan, H.E. Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, and as a matter of fact by the entire cabinet, to continue the work in improving the situation for women in Afghanistan. Ambassador Erfani also made reference to the important role of the First Lady of Afghanistan, Rula Ghani, in encouraging participation of women in Afghan politics by forming the Women Advisory Board.

Ambassador Erfani noted the important role of the OSCE in advancing women’s rights in Afghanistan and appealed to the international community to continue and expand the support in implementing the legal and political commitments. He concluded with a request to the OSCE and all present to, “Please continue your assistance and we look forward to further broadening and deepening our collaboration with all of you and with a view to accomplishing a stable, prosperous and democratic Afghanistan for all Afghans. Women constitute more than 50% of Afghan society and without their active participation Afghanistan will not be able reach its goal for a stable, democratic and prosperous future”.


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H.E. Ambassador Erfani Speaks at UNODC Launch of Afghanistan Opium Survey

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Vienna, 14.10.2015

Today, the UNODC launched the Executive Summary of the Afghanistan Opium Survey in a simultaneous event in Vienna and Kabul. At the event in Vienna, H.E. Ambassador Erfani thanked the UNODC for their valuable support in Afghanistan’s counter narcotics efforts and the support for the production of the Opium Survey. He noted that this year’s survey indicates a considerable decrease in both the cultivation of opium poppy and the production of opium in Afghanistan. Afghanistan has been a prime victim of narcotics and will continue to do its part to make every effort to fight against narcotics. Further steps taken by the National Unity Government of Afghanistan include the recent revision of the counter narcotics strategy and the development of a new National Drug Action Plan (NDAP) for 2015 – 2019. The three main goals of the NDAP are to decrease the cultivation of opium poppy, decrease the production and trafficking of opiates and, to reduce the demand for illicit drugs while increasing the provision of treatment for users.

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Ambassador Erfani concluded by noting that, “While we appreciate the support provided by the UNODC and our international partners in fighting against narcotics, which remains a truly global and transnational problem, we believe that only cooperative efforts at all levels can be successful to make further strides and we thank the Executive Director for his call for the continued commitment of the international community to devote the necessary resources and support to Afghanistan. With our continued efforts and with continued cooperation from the international community, we can and will secure the positive figures reported in the 2015 Afghanistan Opium Survey.”IMG_2338 ed

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Statement by H.E. Ayoob M. Erfani Ambassador in Austria Permanent Representative to the UN & International Organizations – Vienna at the UNODC Launch of the Executive Summary of the Opium Survey

Vienna, 14.10.2015

Mr. Yury Fedotov,Executive Director of the UNODC,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset, I would like to thank the UNODC for its invaluable support to our counter narcotics efforts including the production of the Afghanistan Opium Survey which stands as a prime example of technical support provided by the UNODC to Afghanistan. The survey is also a clear indication of increased capacity in Afghanistan’s counter-narcotics institutions in the area of research and data collection. I would also like to thank Germany, Norway, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America for their financial contributions to the production of this survey as well as the rest of our regional and international partners for their continued support to our fight against narcotics in Afghanistan.

As the findings of this year’s survey indicate, there has been considerable decrease in both the cultivation of opium poppy and production of opium in Afghanistan by 19% and 48% respectively. The findings also show an increase in the level of eradication by 40% with less security incidences and casualties.

The survey suggests that caution is needed when interpreting these results due to a possible impact of the improved methodology used to estimate the area under poppy cultivation, however, these positive results can be partly attributed to intensified efforts and improved coordination in particular in the area of eradication.

As in the previous years and more evidently this year, 97% of total opium cultivation in Afghanistan took place in the country’s most insecure provinces in the South, East and West. This is indicative of a clear link between cultivation of opium and insecurity which remains a major challenge of a regional nature for Afghanistan. The anti-government elements and the criminal and terrorist networks across the region continue to benefit from the production and trafficking of opium as a major source for financing their activities. They are also involved in trafficking of precursors into Afghanistan which are key to processing opiates into heroin and morphine.

This year, improved coordination between the Ministry of Counter Narcotics and the Ministries of Defense and Interior has increased security during eradication which was carried out near the areas of military operations in Hilmand and Kandahar provinces. In this context, the Government of Afghanistan is trying to further align the counter narcotics planning with the anti-insurgency military operations.

Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

As a prime victim of narcotics, Afghanistan is committed to doing its part to continue every effort in the fight against narcotics. Our recent efforts under the National Unity Government of Afghanistan include the revision of our national counter narcotics strategy, the amendment of the Counter Narcotics Law, and more importantly, the development of our new National Drug Action Plan (2015-2019).

The new Action plan lays out three interrelated counter narcotics goals which the Government seeks to achieve by 2019:

–          Decreasing the cultivation of opium poppy,

–          Decreasing the production and trafficking of opiates; and

–          Reducing the demand for illicit drugs and increasing the provision of treatment for users.

The Action Plan will be implemented under an integrated and balanced approach which will include both incentives such as alternative development, and deterrents, such as eradication, interdiction, and prosecution. At a national level, successful implementation of the Action Plan requires improved coordination among all national bodies in areas of public health, law enforcement, security, and agriculture and at a regional level it requires regional and international cooperation in areas such as anti-money laundering and asset forfeiture.

On the demand side, our focus will be on prevention and evidence-based treatment initiatives. We are planning to mainstream the drug demand reduction into the two public health packages: Essential Public Health System (EPHS) and Basic Public Health System (BPHS). Furthermore, the Drug Demand Reduction will be academically institutionalized in the Higher Education System in Afghanistan.

While we appreciate the support provided by the UNODC and our international partners in fighting against narcotics, which remains a truly global and transnational problem, we believe that only cooperative efforts at all levels can be successful to make further strides and we thank the Executive Director for his call for the continued commitment of the international community to devote the necessary resources and support to Afghanistan. With our continued efforts and with continued cooperation from the international community, we can and will secure the positive figures reported in the 2015 Afghanistan Opium Survey.

I hope that the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem in 2016 will serve as an opportunity to shape our collective efforts in light of the new challenges, trends and realities and that we all will be able to use this opportunity for open and frank discussion about our responsibilities and targets, and on how to meet them based on the principle of shared responsibility.

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