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

Vienna, 14.10.2015

Today, the UNODC launched the Executive Summary of the Afghanistan Opium Survey in a simultaneous event in Vienna and Kabul. 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.

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.”

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HE Ambassador Erfani Presents at the Austro-American Society

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Vienna, 30.09.2015

On September 30, 2015, HE Ambassador Erfani delivered a presentation on “Afghanistan’s Decade of Transformation (2015-2024): empowerment of women and transnational security aspects”, as part of the 7th Annual Webster/Austro-American Society Distinguished Speakers Series. After giving a brief overview of Afghanistan’s rich history, Ambassador Erfani discussed the challenges of the past few decades that Afghanistan has been working to overcome. He then went on to discuss the achievements made by Afghanistan in the last 15 years. He noted, “Afghanistan, supported by our partners in the international community, has accomplished tremendous achievements including but not limited to: the creation of equal opportunities for all Afghan citizens, men and women; the establishment of a democratic government; holding of democratic elections on all levels; assumption of responsibility from the international forces; expansion of friendly long-term strategic relations with countries in our region and beyond; progress in the health sector and in the infrastructure; provision of education for millions of kids, 40% of whom are girls.”

Ambassador Erfani noted the important role of women and that while challenges still remain to bringing them full equality and security, the National Unity Government of Afghanistan is committed to the equality of women and increasing their involvement in elections, government and society. He went on to say that, “With the beginning of Afghanistan’s Decade of Transformation 2015-2024, we have entered a new era, and we the men and women in Afghanistan are committed to implement the constitution for a new agenda, reshape our country and our status in the region and in the world.” In conclusion, Ambassador Erfani said that, “With the beginning of Afghanistan’s Decade of Transformation 2015-2024, we have entered a new era, and we the men and women in Afghanistan are committed to implement the constitution for a new agenda, reshape our country and our status in the region and in the world… Our women are the best hope for peace, stability and development in our country and without their active participation no one will be able to guarantee Afghanistan’s Transformation to a democratic and properties future.” Ambassador Erfani followed his presentation by holding a question and answer session.

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HE Ambassador Erfani Delivers Statement at the UNODC

Vienna, 29.09.2015

Today, HE Ambassador Erfani delivered a statement at the UNODC during the meeting on the Review Mechanism for the UN’s Convention on Transnational Organized Crime. He noted that review mechanisms are key tools available for the provision of technical assistance and for strengthening international cooperation. Ambassador Erfani also noted that core elements of review mechanisms should be funded by the UN regular budget in order to maintain predictability and stability. Further to this, Ambassador Erfani noted Afghanistan’s view that, “the review mechanism should meet state of the art requirements while remaining cost-effective.” He concluded by stating that Afghanistan would greatly appreciate technical assistance in terms of the provision of technical and practical advice to Afghanistan’s practitioners. Ambassador Erfani expressed his support for the chair in his efforts and committed his delegation to actively participating in the process.

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Keynote Remarks by H.E. Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the Chief Executive of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, “The High Level Trilateral Meeting of Afghanistan-US-China on Afghanistan’s Peaceful Development & Regional Cooperation”

New York, 26.09.2015

Secretary of State John Kerry,

Foreign Minister Wang Yi,

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I extend my sincere appreciation to the United States Government and to the People’s Republic China for co-chairing alongside Afghanistan this essential meeting. I commend both leaders, Secretary Kerry and Minister Wang Yi, for their result-oriented diplomacy and constructive leadership in regards to issues surrounding Afghanistan and our neighborhood.

I am also thankful to all other friends and partners of Afghanistan represented here, as I look forward to hear your views on what is an optimal, yet realizable wish of the Afghan people: Peaceful development and regional cooperation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Earlier this month in Kabul, we hosted a Senior Officials’ Meeting, to assess Afghan progress and remaining challenges aimed at promoting self-reliance since the London Conference in 2014, which was preceded by the RECCA-VI gathering of our regional partners to enhance Afghan and regional economic integration.

The Self-Reliance through Mutual Accountability Framework (SMAF), an expanded version of our agreement signed in Tokyo in 2012, guides our partnership with the international community over the next four years. This framework will help all sides deal more effectively with prioritized sectors such as security and stability, social and economic development, regional economic integration, political and institutional reform, good governance, rule of law, human rights and gender empowerment.

However, for peaceful reconstruction and regional cooperation to actually work and produce tangible results, we – in the region – need to experience an actual paradigm shift in how we resolve contentious issues, whether in the context of countering terror and radicalism or other lingering disputes.

I remember a time, prior to the tragedies of September 11, 2001, when Afghan warnings about terrorism trying to conquer my country and use it as a launching pad, fell on deaf ears. Today, after the loss of many more lives across the world, we are at a very different place, as we see the demise of some threats, but the emergence of newer forms of dangers aiming to undermine nation-state stability.

The lesson from Afghanistan is that we cannot allow radicals and terrorists to violently impose false brands that deny human rights, a legitimate order and popular aspirations, in the same manner that no state should tolerate or facilitate the use of terror in the pursuit of foreign and military policy objectives. If we fail to do so, nation-state will have a lot to lose.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Ours is a twin strategy aimed at reaching a real and durable peace with the armed opposition, and through development and economic activity, help unleash the untapped economic potential that exists in our region, enabling Afghanistan and the whole neighborhood to experience more prosperity and growth, and less violence and destruction.

To that end, with the generous help of the international community, we have built a resilient national security force that can now proudly claim to have withstood major attempts by spoilers at trying to destabilize Afghanistan and be a threat to others.

The National Unity Government of Afghanistan opened a new chapter in our relationship with our neighbors and allies to demonstrate our firm commitment to global and regional security cooperation. H.E. President Ghani and I took all necessary measures to ensure that our relationship with one country would not overshadow our relationship with others.

We took a concrete set of actions against anti-Pakistan insurgents posing a threat to both nations. However, in return, we do not see clear evidence thus far pointing to a decrease in the terrorist footprint threatening our people, nor do we yet see cross-border sanctuaries and support systems being seriously denied to those who want to jeopardize the stability of both our societies.

At some point – hopefully fast – we would need to reconsider our options as well as the opportunities before us, which brings us back to the paradigm shift that is required to assure peace and progress in the South and Central Asian region.

We see a very important role for several of our international friends, among them the U.S. and China, who can facilitate, encourage and verify the engagement of the main parties to stay focused, true to their words and accountable.

Meanwhile, we welcome the holding of the next Ministerial Meeting of the Heart of Asia in Islamabad by the end of this year, and look forward to the adoption of a roadmap with clear benchmarks for collective action against terrorism, radicalization and organized crime.

Our message today is clear. We will continue to lead a genuine and inclusive Afghan peace process, closely monitor developments on the ground, will expect to see the dismantlement of terrorist outfits wherever they may exist, seize upon trust-building and peace-building opportunities – small and large – and work toward a more comprehensive denouement. But we will also do everything in our capacity to protect our people and defend our national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

I thank you all for your support to Afghanistan, and hope that the co-chairs of this high-level meeting and other concerned stakeholders will continue to stand by our common objectives, and support our endeavors to guarantee regional stability and prosperity, which in turn, help in the solidification of security across oceans and continents.

Thank you!

Statement by H.E. Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Chief Executive of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, at the United Nations Summit to adopt the post-2015 development agenda

New York, 25.09.2015

Excellencies Co-Chairs,

His Excellency, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon,

Honorable Heads of States and Governments, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great honor for me to represent my country at this historic summit. At the outset, allow me to congratulate you for convening this gathering and to express my sincere appreciation to both distinguished Co-Chairs of Intergovernmental negotiation of the Post-2015 development agenda for their skillful leadership, hard work, and tireless efforts.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development offers a compelling vision, promising peace and prosperity to the peoples of the world through global partnerships to ensure that we live and manage the resources of our planet in a sustainable manner.

H.E. President Ghani asked me to convey to you that the agenda is a synthesis of the past efforts, as articulated in key UN conferences, and an inspired leap of aspiration into the future.  We, therefore, pay tribute to the work of several generations of thinkers and practitioners who devoted their lives to the understanding and changing of the economic, social and environmental dimensions of development.

The MDGs, sadly yet to be met by some countries, focused our attention on result-oriented development, forcing governments and their developmental partners to think through the linkages between policy, delivery, measurement, monitoring, and accountability and voice in public resource mobilization and management.

Yet, as President Ghani reminds us: the unfinished MDG agenda in the poorest countries, and the unintended consequences of focusing on some goals requires that we pay careful attention to learning and acting on the lessons drawn. Among those lessons is that while the UN system does an excellent job in setting global agendas, its development machinery, requires major transformation if it is to be a catalyst for the 2030 Agenda.

In the case of nations such as Afghanistan, securing agreement on peace before reorienting resources from political and physical security to human security is essential.

The call to action in the 2030 Agenda requires attention to the missing Ps of price and power.  To deliver on the Agenda, we need to understand the costs and the trade-offs necessary to ensure sustainable development.

The five Ps of the 2030 Agenda, however, require systematic attention to regional cooperation and coordination.  Were regional barriers to trade and transit between Central and South Asia – to take just one example – to open up, tens of millions of people will be lifted from poverty to living with dignity.  Even more significantly, the specter cast by terrorism over our lives will be lifted were there to be true and meaningful cooperation in the arena of peace and security.

Distinguished Co-chairs,

Afghanistan, as a land-locked, least developed, and conflict affected country, will benefit profoundly from the new Agenda 2030. In the past 14 years, some of our gains have suffered from a lack of consolidation, continuity and sustainability.

A big part of Afghanistan’s Transformation Decade (2015-2025) coincides with the 2030 development agenda. Afghanistan will remain committed to developing strategies and policies to integrate our national development agenda with the 2030 development agenda.

My Government’s effort to provide villages across the country with a minimum level of basic services for health, education, clean water, and improved agriculture through a Citizens’ Charter – proposed by the President – tops the national development agenda.

Afghanistan has been making strides to become an economic hub in the region and to establish corridors that connect people, goods and resources, and create opportunities for investment, development and economic growth.

I am grateful to see in the agenda the importance of implementing special and differential treatment for the LDCs in accordance with World Trade Organization agreements.

The adoption of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda was a milestone. We also support interconnectivity with other relevant programmes, including the Istanbul Programme of Action for Least Developed Countries, the Vienna Programme of Action for Landlocked Developing Countries

And we agree with the notion that the responsibility of follow-up and review of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda lies primarily with states.

Excellencies,

In conclusion, allow me to conclude by expressing Afghanistan’s firm belief that in order to achieve the ambitious goals of the new agenda, strong political commitment and revitalized global partnership, and cooperation are essential. I would like to reaffirm our strong commitment and dedication to implementing this agenda, and our unwavering efforts in fulfilling all its goals and targets by 2030.

Thank you.

 

Keynote Remarks by H.E. Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, The Chief Executive of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, “Leaders’ Summit on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment” at the United Nations

New York, 27.09.2015

Excellency, Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon

Excellency, President Chi,

Distinguished Delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On this 20th anniversary of the Beijing Program of Action – a landmark event that galvanized a concerted international effort to advance women’s rights – we are grateful for the initiative to convene this year’s Global Leaders Meeting on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment,

Today’s Summit provides a unique opportunity to reflect on how far we have come since Beijing, and to identify unresolved challenges that women continue to face in various domains across the globe. But identifying those challenges is not enough. We need to seek solutions for those challenges, in addition to pathways to equality and parity.

Madame Chairperson,

I don’t have to remind everyone in this hall where my country stood 15 years ago in relation to the oppressive nature of the Taliban and other radical groups who ruled for several years over most of our territory before 2002. Afghan society in general, but women and children in particular, bore the brunt of the extremists’ non-traditional and un-Islamic practices for several years.

Today, we have a totally changed environment. Afghan women and children have come out of oblivion and, under a constitutional order that enshrines their basic human rights, have made steady strides in the political, social and economic spheres of their country.

Despite difficult security conditions in some regions caused by terrorist elements or illegal armed groups, we have reached a point where women have regained their historic role as a powerful force for change and progress in society. But we see it only as a beginning, as the march forward has some ways to go.

Today, Afghan women make up one-fourth of the government workforce, with increasing access to high level decision-making positions. We have four female ministers in the cabinet, two female governors, new female ambassadors, several deputy ministers and, very soon, we intend to introduce a female member to the Supreme Court.

Women comprise 27 percent of all legislators in our national assembly, and have an unprecedented rate of representation in provincial councils. As such, they are actively engaged in decisions of national and local importance – including those, which concern our national security, political inclusivity and economic development.

In the area of education, we have invested heavily to increase the number of girls enrolled in schools, and to improve the quality of education they receive. Girls make up forty-percent of the more-or-less seven million children enrolled in schools.

And in the security sector, women are serving courageously to defend our country against various security threats as air-force pilots, soldiers, officers and in the police.

On the political front, I and President Ghani know from personal experience as presidential candidates last year that millions of our sisters turned out in massive campaign rallies, and comprised more than 35% of all voters in two rounds of elections. It is encouraging to know that Afghan women will continue to be an integral part of our journey towards the consolidation of democracy in Afghanistan.

Having listed these accomplishments does not mean that we no longer have serious problems in this sector. Women in my country continue to suffer as a result of violence, including honor killings, lack of adequate access to the justice sector and abject poverty.

Madame Chairperson,

This year’s UNGA also coincides with the 15th Anniversary of the adoption of Resolution 1325 on “women, peace and security.” On this occasion we reiterate our long-standing commitment to strengthen the role of women in preventing and resolving disputes; and in peace-building and development activities.

Afghan women are now part of peace-building initiatives, including track II exchanges with the Taliban and as members of the High Peace Council.

In June, we presented our national action plan on 1325; and we are confident that it will go a long way in expediting progress to implement the landmark resolution.

Protecting the constitutional rights of all our citizens is a high priority for the Afghan National Unity Government. As a result, we are conducting comprehensive reforms in our security, legal and judicial institutions to effectively investigate all incidents of mistreatment and to assure justice. In short, we aim to fight impunity.

We are sparing no effort to the implement the Elimination of All Forms of Violence Against Women (EVAW) law, and our National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan (NAPWA). The same is true for our commitments under the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), on which our first national report was presented in 2013.

We thank the international community for its generous commitment to helping Afghan women and children. However, under current conditions, problems stemming from insecurity, poverty and injustice will need continued support from the international community. We are also hopeful that development aid and gender programming assistance will be aligned with our national priority programs.

We welcome the fact that the post-2015 development agenda contains a stand-alone goal on achieving gender equality, strengthening women’s role in society, and in ensuring that their rights are protected. Afghanistan will do its part to reach the goals set for 2030.

Madame Chairperson,

Once again, I thank the Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon and President Xi Jinping of the Peoples Republic of China for convening this important meeting, and reiterate Afghanistan’s firm commitment to further our progress in ensuring gender equality and the empowerment of women.

Thank You.

 

Remarks by Ambassador Ayoob Erfani At the National Day Reception on 25 September 2015

Distinguished colleagues, Dear friends

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to thank all our guests – Ambassadors and diplomats, representatives from the United Nations organizations and the OSCE, members of the Austrian Parliament, colleagues from Austrian Federal Ministries and institutions, Municipality of Vienna and the Afghan community in Austria for being with us this evening to celebrate the National Day, the 96th Anniversary of the Restoration of Independence of Afghanistan. The day that the progressive King Amanullah Khan opened a new chapter of the rich history of Afghanistan by introducing a contemporary constitution that enshrined a number of significant reforms and democratic values to form the basis of a modern nation state in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan, as an ancient civilization, has had a prominent role in globally promoting culture and science. Preeminent Afghan personalities including Ibn-e-Sina Balkhi, Mawlana, Zakaria Razi, Khajeh Abdullah Ansari, Rabia Balkhi, Nasser Khosro Balkhi, Allameh Sayed Jamal al-din Afghani, to name but a few, contributed to world civilizations.

At the same time, the people of Afghanistan for the last four decades had to pay a heavy price to protect the county against foreign intervention, terrorism, and imposed wars, but also produced numerous outstanding leaders and personalities who sacrificed their lives for the freedom and independence of Afghanistan.

15 years ago, Afghanistan, with the support of the international community, opened another new chapter of its history and during these years we have made significant progress in laying the foundations and building institutions to establish an independent and democratic state. The National Unity Government, making every effort at the national level and reaching out to our partners in the region and beyond for their continued support to consolidate our achievements and implement our National Priority Programs for the success of Afghanistan’s Decade of Transformation (2015-2024).

To this end, Afghanistan has been actively engaged with the international community and Vienna has proved to be one of the most important capitals for us. Here in Vienna and over the past two years we have made successful efforts to further strengthen the fruitful and friendly relations with the Embassies and Permanent Missions  of our partner countries as well as with the OSCE, IAEA, UNIDO, UNODC, CTBTO, IACA, OFID and other international and regional organizations and I am grateful for their cooperation.

Our relations and cooperation with Austria, which started back in the 1950s, are valuable to us and dynamic. We thank the Austrian Government and people for their support towards Afghanistan’s reconstruction and stabilization process for the last 15 years, and we are grateful for Austria’s generosity in hosting Afghan refugees in this beautiful country.

Let me reiterate that for the past fifteen years, the people of Afghanistan, supported by our partners in the international community, have accomplished tremendous achievements including but not limited to: the creation of equal opportunities for all Afghan citizens, men and women; the establishment of a democratic government; holding of democratic elections on all levels; assumption of responsibility from the international forces; expansion of friendly long-term strategic relations with countries in our region and beyond; provision of education for millions of kids, 40% of whom are girls; progress in the health sector and in the infrastructure with now millions of internet users and the activation of the first Afghan satellite under the name Afghan-1. We are also very proud of our strong, free and independent media landscape, boasting 90 TV stations, 220 radio programmes and 600 print media. Clearly, Afghanistan has made enormous achievements in all social, political and economic areas.

However, we are well aware of the many remaining and emerging challenges in the country, which remain priorities to be tackled by the National Unity Government of Afghanistan.

Dear Guests,

The year 2015 has been an important year for Afghanistan. Since last year when we gathered here in the same venue, Afghanistan has completed the process of Transition and has entered the Decade of Transformation, with both historic achievements and remaining and emerging challenges on our scorecard.

Following the Transition process, the establishment of the National Unity Government has been a great achievement for the country. Representatives of all political parties and ethnic groups are represented in the Government’s leadership. They all had played their important roles over the past fifteen years and remain strongly committed to defend our achievements made during this period and to lead Afghanistan towards a peaceful, stable and democratic future. Shortly after the National Unity Government was established, agreements have been signed with the United States and NATO. The President paid visits to most countries in the region and many other states, explaining the positions of his cabinet and seeking opportunities for enhanced collaboration.

In his inaugural speech, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani named the thematic main pillars of Afghanistan’s Foreign Policy: 1. our neighboring countries; 2. the Islamic countries; 3. Europe, the U.S., Canada and Japan; 4. the Asian countries; 5. international institutions.

Regional cooperation remains a key element within our foreign policy, and we consider the Istanbul Process, launched in November 2011, as the foundation for confidence-building in regional integration. President Ashraf Ghani participated in the 4th Ministerial Conference of the Istanbul Process, held in Beijing in 2014, where he also emphasized on the importance of regional cooperation. We believe that stability in Afghanistan is interconnected with stability in the region. Therefore, Afghanistan signed agreements on good neighborly relations with our regional partners. We are convinced that together we can and will manage to effectively strengthen peace and security in our region.

The signing of bilateral agreements with the United States, NATO, regional countries and additional states of the international community shall not constitute any threat to other countries and our much-valued friendship with the United States is not intended to affect our friendship with other countries. On the contrary, it is our goal to help build bridges in order to achieve comprehensive and global security, peace and stability.

Our cooperation with all Islamic countries aims at building even stronger relationships. We are grateful for any assistance received from these countries and we hope for strengthened collaboration with the Islamic countries and the OIC in the future, also in terms of our joint fight against terrorism and extremism. It is our hope that all Islamic countries and institutions may unify their positions in this regard.

The government remains dedicated to further strengthen our relations with our partner countries but also with all other friendly nations. By accepting the leadership role of the Istanbul Process and RECCA-VI meetings in 2015, Afghanistan demonstrated the economy-orientated nature of its foreign policy. At the RECCA-VI meeting held in Kabul this month, on 3 and 4 September, delegates discussed a number of crucial topics including railway projects, energy transfer, mine exploitation, expanding trade and economic relations, and upscaling training and technical cooperation to support Afghanistan’s integration in the regional and global economy.

The National Unity Government of Afghanistan also showed its commitment to establish Afghanistan as a hub and crossroads for trade and transit – a connecting point between the Middle East, South and Central Asia. In this context, let me mention some of our major regional projects including the CASA-1000 electricity project, the TAPI pipeline, and a number of planned regional road and railway networks. The envisioned Lapis Lazuli Corridor which is planned to run through Afghanistan and Turkmenistan, across the Caspian Sea to Georgia, and then on to Turkey and Europe, marks another significant undertaking of our economic regional policy.

At the London Conference on Afghanistan, held on 4 December 2014, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani explained the three dimensions of transition in Afghanistan: 1) the political transition, transferring authority rather than power from one elected leader to another; 2) the security transition, with the Afghan National Security Forces assuming responsibility for the country-wide security, with the assistance for our international partners; and 3) the economic transition, where we have to redouble our efforts in order to accomplish our minimum objectives.

The President also made reference to a number of inter-related cross-dimensional priorities, such as the empowerment of women and youth, as well as the promotion of accountability, good governance and the fight against corruption.

 The Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) demonstrated their capability to provide security for the Afghan people and to defend the country against external and internal threats. To this day, Afghanistan remains a victim of international terrorism. We call on our friends and partners to continuously support our security forces through training and advice, equipment and funding. The Resolute Support Mission (RSM) provides great opportunities for further enhancing the capabilities of the ANSF. The fight against international terrorism including DAESH requires an aligned global response.

The National Unity Government considers peace essential for the Afghan people and achieving peace clearly remains a priority. To this end, the Government seeks peace talks with all groups willing to accept the norms, values and principles as have been set forth in our constitution. At the same time, the Government will continuously respond to all security challenges and will oppose all terrorist groups in the country. No parallel political structures shall be accepted.

Our fight against the cultivation and trafficking of illicit narcotics also remains high on our agenda, as the global menace of drugs is intertwined with many other transnational scourges including terrorism, and other forms of organized crime. We are counting on our partners in the region and beyond to jointly tackle this problem in all its facets, from demand reduction and eliminating the flow of chemical precursors to border security. The principle of shared responsibility must be upheld.

The Afghan Embassy and Permanent Mission in Vienna remains grateful to its host country, as we are sharing excellent relations that have been established six decades ago.

Austria, our beautiful host country, has contributed to the international community’s stabilization efforts in Afghanistan and is taking part in the Resolute Support Mission.

As I mentioned earlier, Afghanistan also greatly appreciates Austria’s generosity in hosting refugees from our country. In this context, let me say that Afghanistan is committed to the voluntary, dignified and gradual return of all refugees, whilst taking into account absorption capacities in Afghanistan. We recognize that returning refugees can play an essential role in rebuilding the country. However, we consider the issue of refugees as a purely humanitarian matter and believe that political trade-offs should not affect this important human rights issue.

The Government of Afghanistan is looking forward to enhanced cooperation between Austria and Afghanistan and we are convinced that the ongoing Decade of Transformation will offer plenty of fresh opportunities for increased economic and political engagement between our two countries.

Dear colleagues

Today, I wish to thank all of you present here, representing the friends and partners of Afghanistan who contributed financially and, sadly, also by sacrificing the beautiful lives of their loved ones, to provide a better future for the Afghan people. The Afghan people will never forget your most generous help and in particular those who lost their lives, and we will hold your precious friendship in high esteem.

Please be reassured that the Government will play its role as an active member of the international community, as a young, committed democracy, contributing to the protection of our shared values of humanity, freedom, peace, human rights and international security.

I wish to take this opportunity to welcome the new Ambassadors here in Vienna and wish good luck to those who will leave soon.

Let me once again thank you all for joining us tonight, and without further ado, I now open the dinner buffet and I wish you all a wonderful evening.  Hopefully, you will enjoy the Afghan food.  Thanks for coming!

National Day Celebration 2015


IMG_2157Vienna, 25.09.2015

The Embassy and Permanent Mission of Afghanistan in Vienna celebrated the National Day, the 96th anniversary of the restoration of Afghanistan’s independence, with a reception hosted at the Embassy and PM of Afghanistan. The anniversary celebrations commenced with the playing of traditional music by the prominent Afghan cultural activist and musician, Mr. Bakhtiar. Following the national anthems of Austria and Afghanistan, an opening statement was made by H.E. Ambassador Erfani.

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Ambassador Erfani in his statement welcomed those in attendance, including Ambassadors and diplomats,  representatives from the United Nations organizations and the OSCE; members of the Austrian Parliament, guests from Austrian Federal Ministries and institutions, Municipality of Vienna and Afghan community in Austria. Referring to Afghanistan’s history and its achievements in recent years, Ambassador Erfani noted that, “Afghanistan, home of an ancient civilization, has had a prominent role in promoting culture and science globally. Pre-eminent Afghan personalities … all contributed to the world civilizations.” He recalled the heavy price paid by the people of Afghanistan in their journey to independence. Ambassador Erfani also told the guests about the efforts made by the people of Afghanistan during the last 15 years in order to establish and maintain the peace, independence and stability of Afghanistan. Ambassador Erfani then opened the traditional Afghan dinner buffet to the guests.

The celebration for Afghan’s National Day continued in a second reception held that same evening for members of the Afghan community in Vienna. During this reception, Ambassador Erfani delivered remarks in the national languages to the guests, welcoming them to a reception to not only celebrate the National Day of Afghanistan, but also to the coinciding Eid al-Adha holidays. He congratulated the guests and wish them and their families’ success and sustainable peace and stability for Afghanistan. In conclusion he stressed the responsibility and important role of Afghans resigning abroad to be with Afghan people during their journey for a prosperous and developed future.

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The Embassy and Permanent Mission of Afghanistan in Vienna Celebrates Eid al-Adha

Vienna, 24.09.2015

On occasion of Eid al-Adha, Diplomats and H.E. Ambassador Ayoob Erfani, attended the Eid Prayer at the Mosque as well as a gathering of Afghans residing in Vienna. At the gathering, Ambassador Erfani congratulated those present and wished them and their families success. He also expressed his wishes for sustainable peace and stability for Afghanistan. The Embassy and Afghan community in Vienna also celebrated in a special reception at the Embassy, on the second day of Eid al-Adha, which coincides this year with the day chosen to celebrate the National Day of Afghanistan here in Vienna.

H.E. Ambassador Erfani’s personal message for Eid al-Adha: “Dear compatriots residing in Austria, I would like to congratulate you on the occasion of Eid al-Adha and I wish you and your dear ones good health and every success. Let us also pray to Allah the Almighty that on these sacred days he bestows peace and stability on our beloved country of Afghanistan.”

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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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