Ambassador Khojesta Fana Ebrahimkhel gave an Interview to the President of the Women in International Security Austria
This week, Ambassador Khojesta Fana Ebrahimkhel gave an interview to Ms. Jessica Gruen, a student at Vienna’s Diplomatic Academy and President of “Women in International Security – Austria”. Madam Ambassador described the important role of the “Association of Afghan Woman Diplomats” that was founded by the Ambassador and provides a network and platform for female Afghan diplomats, with the goal of advancing their capacity and empowerment. The Ambassador also discussed the status of women’s rights in Afghanistan, against the background of decades-long wars and conflicts and the institutional and societal accomplishments made over the past 16 years. “Today’s generation of young Afghan women is the new face of our country”, she said. Ambassador Ebrahimkhel emphasized the importance of civil society and the broader public, women and men working together in achieving gender equality and gender parity. “Education remains a priority for the country”, Madam Ambassador stated and when asked about the situation of the country 15 years from now, she told the interviewer: “We Afghans are united in the conviction that tomorrow will be better than today. And this is why you still see so many fellow Afghans with a smile on their face; this is why through decades of hardships we kept our traditional hospitality, generosity and openness. I consider myself an optimist and when I look at our ambitious young generation I know that 15 years from now Afghanistan will be in a much, much better situation.”
Secretary General Thomas Greminger,
State Secretary Dr. Hubert Fuchs,
Excellencies, dear colleagues,
I thank you all for coming to our Embassy Residence today and I warmly welcome you to this event, which was organized to introduce us to each other.
Es ist mir eine besondere Freude und große Ehre Afghanistan in Wien zu repräsentieren, sowohl gegenüber der Republik Österreich, wie auch bei den in Wien angesiedelten Organisationen.
It is a great pleasure and distinct honor for me to represent Afghanistan in Vienna, both vis-à-vis the Republic of Austria and at the Vienna-based organizations.
As you know, I have recently arrived here in Vienna to start a very rewarding task: To serve the Afghan citizens in Austria and to promote Afghanistan’s bilateral and multilateral agenda in Vienna.
I wish to closely engage with all of you towards strengthened cooperation in the areas of politics, the economy and in the field of culture and academia. I will pursue these goals with utmost determination, together with my excellent team here at the Embassy. I know that I can draw from their energy, heart and professionalism.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Austria is a wonderful country; a safe and prosperous land with a topography that sometimes remind me about my own beautiful country, when looking at the lakes, rivers, hills and mountains, and at the hospitality and friendly attitude of the people.
Fostering our excellent relations with the beautiful host country Austria is certainly a priority: our mutual relationship has deep roots in history and is guided by the same ideals of democracy, pluralism, human rights, and the rule of law. Let me also congratulate the new Austrian Government upon its appointment and I wish the cabinet every success.
I also acknowledge the great achievements Afghan citizens have made here in Austria and I will motivate them to further contribute to the relations between our two countries. The diaspora plays a crucial role in reciprocally stimulating the relations between Austria and Afghanistan. Furthermore, Afghanistan closely cooperates with Austria and other EU countries in addressing the issue of refugees and migration. We remain committed to the Joint Way Forward agreement, which guides our actions. At the same time, we must ensure that repatriations happen gradually and in due consideration of all humanitarian aspects and Afghanistan’s absorption capacities, allowing for sound reintegration.
And let me add that Afghanistan suffers when young educated people leave our country, as it impedes our efforts towards reconstruction and development; our young people are our most valuable asset and our future.
It will be an essential component of my work to promote investment in Afghanistan and help to facilitate trade and commerce between Afghanistan and Austria. Education is the most important issue for our young generation and I shall also encourage provision of scholarships and fellowship programmes for Afghan students in Austria.
Another priority will be our collaboration with the international and regional organizations in Austria, including CTBTO, IACA, IAEA, ICMPD, INCB, OSCE, UNIDO, and UNOV/UNODC. In our work with the United Nations and other international and regional organizations based in Austria, I will strongly advocate for programmes and projects for Afghan stakeholders to be designed to make a meaningful difference in the country. Furthermore, the Mission here in Vienna will seek to contribute to improved coordination of the activities of regional and international organizations in Afghanistan and the region.
I am humbled to be the first female Ambassador of Afghanistan in Austria and I wish to give courage to all girls and women everywhere, who do not enjoy full gender equality, to live their dreams and to realize their potentials. Let me emphasize the important role of women in all societies, and in particular in post-conflict settings.
The women in Afghanistan made great achievements over recent years and are now speaking for themselves. They are making history in reclaiming their roles in all spheres of our society, thereby reflecting the ongoing change in our country. To me, the Afghan women are real heroines who will motivate future generations of women to demand equal rights and to never give up. I commend all women who already took the lead and inspire others to follow. Let me here also quote our President, H.E. Ashraf Ghani, who said that “it is time to celebrate the ability and capability of the Afghan women to speak for themselves”.
In Afghanistan, H.E. President Ashraf Ghani and H.E. Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah are leading our country on the next steps towards a peaceful, prosperous and self-reliant future. Afghanistan has made great progress since 2001; recovery has been a long and difficult process, but it has begun and it has become irreversible. We will continue our efforts towards stabilization and achieving self-reliance. The Afghan Unity Government makes every effort to provide education and opportunities and to empower our young people to actively contribute in the stabilization and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan.
We have planted the seeds of hope with a view to transforming threats into opportunities. Today, we are a democracy and our people are dreaming of a life in a modern, prosperous and peaceful country. We have kick-started our economy, we are rooting out corrupt practices, we have a free media and functioning civil society, we recognize human rights and are committed to fully implement our international obligations. The difficult peace dialogue will continue and we have rebuilt friendly ties with our neighbors, thereby also creating opportunities for trade and connectivity. We have also developed our relations with other countries that share our goals of promoting the values of tolerance and freedom as well as our goal of fighting poverty and achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. We appreciate having friends like you, Excellencies, dear colleagues, who can act as bridge builders between the Afghan people and the International Community.
Many reforms have been implemented; many challenges remain to be tackled. The rising threats of extremism and terrorism are global menaces equally faced by all of us. We must stand united against these enemies of humanity that threaten the lives of our civilian population. Unfortunately, in our today’s world, there is only a fine line between stability and instability and instability moves very quickly from one nation to another. Peace and stability are the pre-requisites for sustainable development and we must achieve peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region.
But we have good prospects, including large, untapped natural resources, an ambitious young generation, a strong work ethic, high resilience and the faith that guides us.
In closing, I wish to thank all our friends in the International Community who stood by Afghanistan during our darkest times and continue to support us on our way to self-reliance. I express my gratitude to all our partner countries for your continued commitment to the security and stability of Afghanistan and I wish to pay tribute to the memory of all your and our servicemen and servicewomen who have paid the ultimate sacrifice to secure a peaceful Afghanistan.
My fellow Afghans have shown the capacity to change, and together we can make life better for our next generation.
Dear colleagues: There are plenty of opportunities in Afghanistan and I invite you all to proactively participate in translating those opportunities into concrete success stories, mutually benefitting our societies.
I thank you again for coming to the Embassy Residence today and I wish us all an interesting evening