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On behalf of President Karzai, Ambassador Erfani awards Professor Zahma Ali Mohammad a medal of honour

Vienna, 17 August 2014     

Ambassador presenting the Mir Bacha Khan medallion.

Ambassador presenting the Mir Bacha Khan medallion.

 On behalf of President Karzai and the Afghan Government, the Embassy and Permanent Mission of Afghanistan held a medal ceremony for the honourable Professor Ali Mohammad Zahma at the Embassy Residence to bestow upon him the Medal of Mir Bacha Khan. The revered accolade was presented to Professor Zahma to mark his achievements and contributions to culture and education in Afghanistan.

A group of Afghans and foreign diplomats in Austria joined the celebration at the Residence, in addition to the Deputy Minister of Counter-Narcotics, Mr Sherzad and his delegation visiting the UNODC, and Embassy staff. Ambassador Erfani welcomed the guests to the event and expressed his respect for the achievements and activism for Afghanistan that the Professor accomplished during his illustrious career as an academic and government official in Kabul and abroad. Professor Zahma took the floor to share brief remarks about his experiences in Afghanistan and thanked those present for such a high honour and his wishes for a stable and prosperous future for Afghanistan. He expressed his great desire, in his old age, to once more have the chance to visit his beloved homeland.

 

Upon presenting the medal at the ceremony’s conclusion, H.E. Ambassador Ayoob Erfani took the floor, lauding the Professor and hoping that future generations shall also live in his image, to work towards a better future for Afghanistan through promoting the importance of education and equality amongst all Afghans.  He wished the Professor a long and healthy life and his wish that the Professor continue his contributions during the coming Decade of Transformation, with guests supporting that sentiment.

 

Short profile of Professor Zahma

Professor Ali Mohammad Zahma.

Professor Ali Mohammad Zahma.

DOB 1924 Kandahar

Professor Zahma attended Habibyar High school in Kandahar.

After his secondary schooling he attended the University of Kabul and then went to work for a period at the Ministry of Education. Whilst working he also became a prolific author of a number of books, poetry and translator of texts.

He completed a master’s degree at a university in London and returned to Kabul as a Professor of Afghan and Persian Literature in the Literature Faculty at the Kabul University. He also completed a tenure as a literature Professor at Beijing University, China.

Professor Zahma suffered and left the country for Hungary in 1985, after the communist takeover. From there he moved to Vienna, Austria, where he has lived since with his wife and children promoting education and Afghan culture. 

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Ambassador Erfani makes an intervention at the OSCE Security Committee

Ambassador Erfani makes an intervention at the OSCE Security Committee

Vienna, 15.09.2014

 

The delegation of Afghanistan was invited by the UK Chair of the Security Committee to speak at today’s session of the Security Committee, on border-related issues, in response to presentations made by Sibylle Kapferer, Border Security and International Refugee Protection, UNHCR; Manuchehr Fayzulloev, Head of Border Management Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan, Nasimjon Rajabov, representative of the Department of Border Forces of the State Committee for National Security of Tajikistan; Nazira Shozodaeva, Border Management Assistant, OSCE Office in Tajikistan; and Dennis Cosgrove, Head, Border Security and Management Unit, TNTD.

 

Ambassador Erfani highlighted UNHCR’s strong partnership with the Afghan Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation and the importance of the “Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees”, addressing the problems of Afghan refugees returning from Iran and Pakistan, via voluntary repatriation programmes, as well as about 600,000 internally displaced people.

 

In response to the presentations made by Mr. Fayzulloev and Mr. Rajabov, the Ambassador pledged continued co-operation between Afghanistan and Tajikistan in addressing transnational threats. He recalled that in October 2013, the two countries have signed three agreements of co-operation, on de-mining, cross-border co-operation and the insurance sector. At a meeting in Dushanbe, on September 12, at the margins of the 13th Annual Summit of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, Tajik President Rahmon and Afghan President Karzai discussed implementation of joint programs, matters related to transit and trade, as well as bilateral co-operation in the energy sphere. “Both presidents expressed confidence toward improved peace and stability along the shared border and a successful combat against trafficking of illicit drugs, precursors, arms and weapons, as well as disruption of terrorist activities which pose serious threats not only to our two countries but to the whole region and beyond”, Ambassador Erfani noted.

 

“Ms. Shozodaeva and Mr. Cosgrove gave us an insightful look into their work and we appreciate both the important work of the OSCE Office in Tajikistan and the Border Security and Management Unit of OSCE’s Transnational Threats Department”, the Ambassador said when replying to their excellent presentations. The Border Management Staff College (BMSC) in Dushanbe opened in May 2009 as a centre of excellence and plays a crucial role in tackling cross-border threats. A number of Afghan senior border officials have already benefitted from transfer of knowledge and capacity building programs at the college.

 

Before closing, Mr. Ambassador made mention of today’s International Day of Democracy, declared by the UN General Assembly in 2007. “We are reminded to uphold the values, norms and principles of the United Nations Charter. Afghanistan is a young democracy and reiterates its commitment to the Charter”, Ambassador Erfani said.

 

Finally, Mr. Ambassador thanked once again all speakers for your inspiring presentations and the UK Chairperson of the Security Committee for the opportunity to speak.

 

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Afghan Mission participates in United Nations Asset Recovery meeting

against-corr

The Permanent Mission of Afghanistan in Vienna today participated in the 8th Session of the Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on Asset Recovery of the Conference of the States Parties to the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC). The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) promotes the convention and its implementation.

 

Ambassador Erfani, while aligning his delegation with the statement made by the Group of 77 and China, made some remarks in his national capacity. He emphasized that “recovering the proceeds of corruption as a fundamental principle of UNCAC remains an important area of anti-corruption efforts in Afghanistan.”

 

The Ambassador continued by explaining recent relevant legal reforms and improved institutional frameworks in Afghanistan, such as the Afghan Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), which has been established in 2006. “The FIU increasingly plays a critical role in countering money-laundering and in facilitating the return of proceeds of crime, also through regional and international cooperation”, Ambassador Erfani noted. Another key national institution operating in this area is the High Office of Oversight, which also oversees asset declarations by government officials. To this date, almost 5,000 asset declaration forms have been entered into their database.

 

 

Furthermore, Afghanistan has recently signed extradition agreements with several countries in the region and those agreements have already yielded positive results in terms of successful asset recoveries and extraditions.

 

The Ambassador closed his intervention by recalling the cross-border nature of this dimension of corruption, calling for enhanced bilateral, regional and international cooperation. Due to the complex and multi-faceted character of the process of asset recovery, transfer of knowledge and capacity-building will be vital to effectively address this issue.

 

 

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Afghanistan observes week of Martyrs and the 13th Anniversary of the Assassination of Ahmad Shah Massoud

 

massoud

This week, the people of Afghanistan observe the week of Martyrs which coincides with the 13th anniversary of the assassination of Ahmad Shah Massoud (09.09.2001), a Hero of the Afghan Nation, who fought against the Soviet Union’s Red Army and the barbaric Taliban regime and Al Qaeda terrorists.

 

The people of Afghanistan honor their compatriots who lost their lives in the struggle for independence, peace and stability of the country. We commemorate them and will always remember their sacrifices. Our hearts and thoughts are with their families and friends. We also recall the sacrifices of our international friends and partners, and their efforts to provide a better future for our country. Afghanistan works towards implementation of their ideals, for a sovereign, peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan, where all of its people can enjoy security and a life free of fear.

 

Ahmad Shah Massoud was killed two days before 9/11 by two Al Qaeda suicide bombers posing as journalists, to help clear the way for the attacks in the United States. He changed history and affected so many around him. Observance of the week of Martyrs is an expression of the strong commitment of the Afghan people to continuously build upon previous achievements and towards an independent, united and prosperous Afghanistan, free from terrorism and threats, which were the noble goals of uncounted Afghans who lost their lives in serving their country.

 

“We consider this our duty — to defend humanity against the scourge of intolerance, violence, and fanaticism.” — Ahmad Shah Massoud

 

 

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Ambassador Erfani meets with religious leaders to condemn recruitment of youth to fight in Syria

Vienna, 11 August 2014     

Ambassador Erfani and Minister-Counsellor Wahab Arian meet with Afghan religious leaders in Vienna to condemn the recruitment of Afghan Youth to the fight in Syria.

Ambassador Erfani and Minister-Counsellor Wahab Arian meet with Afghan religious leaders in Vienna to condemn the recruitment of Afghan Youth to the fight in Syria.

Today, Ambassador Erfani and Minister Counsellor Wahab Arian met with a selection of religious leaders from the Afghan community in Vienna to condemn the continued recruitment of Afghan youth in Vienna to the war in Syria. During the past period, a number of Muslim youth have been apprehended attempting to cross the Austrian border to fight in Syria.

Ambassador Erfani thanked the leaders for their attendance and called upon their support during this difficult time, where all Afghans must be united to direct the Afghan youth in Austria to respect the laws of the host country, continue their education and to see the disastrous effects of engaging with recruiting teams who would see our youth head to Syria for the wrong reasons. Ambassador stated that “it is in all our interests to unite against such unsavoury elements, as we have seen in Afghanistan’s past, who would lead our youth astray and see an unstable, hostile Afghanistan return”.

Following the Ambassador’s warnings and suggestions, the group discussed the best way to tackle the issue of recruiters in Austria and to dissuade the youth from following such bad examples. They discussed the importance of preaching good values in the Mosques in Vienna, to encourage Afghan youth to participate positively in the host country and be thankful for the unity, solidarity and peace in the country, and to know the effects of war that their forefathers have experienced. Additionally, Ambassador Erfani noted the importance on togetherness in the Afghan community in Austria and encouraged attendees to remain supportive of each other and their children.

If you know of anyone who you suspect of being in contact with such recruiters or may be in danger of being recruited, please be in contact: embassy@afghanistan-vienna.org or  +43 (0)1 4021006 or call the Austrian police.

 

 

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The Embassy hosts an Eid celebration

The Embassy of Afghanistan in Vienna celebrates Eid 

 

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Ambassador Erfani delivers an Eid message

 

The Embassy and Permanent Mission of Afghanistan in Vienna marked the end of the Ramadan period with an Eid celebration on the Embassy premises.

 

A large group of fellow Afghans from the community here in Austria joined the celebration at the Embassy, in addition to local Austrian officials and some journalists. Ambassador Erfani and Deputy Chief of Mission, Minister-Counselor Abdul Wahab Arian welcomed all guests before the guest of honor, author Dr. Heide Amato-Koller opened the buffet of a delicious selection of Afghan treats. Ambassador Erfani welcomed the guests to the event and he expressed his wishes for sustainable peace and prosperity in Afghanistan. He asked the Afghan community in Vienna to continue to focus on educating their children, as the new promising generation of Afghanistan.

 

The Permanent Mission prepared Afghan dishes for the invited guests. After the meal concluded, H.E. Ambassador Ayoob Erfani took the floor, thanking all guests for their attendance, wishing them all the best and highlighting the significance of Eid celebrations for unity, solidarity and peace in the country and beyond, in particular in light of the 2014 Transition and upcoming Decade of Transformation (2015-2024). Additionally, Ambassador Erfani noted the importance on togetherness in the Afghan community in Austria and encouraged attendees to remain in close contact with the Embassy for future endeavours. Representatives of the Afghan community took the floor and appreciated the active involvement and engagement of the Embassy with the Afghan community in Austria.

 

 

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Embassy hosts book presentation: ‘Kindheit in Kabul’

The Embassy of Afghanistan in Vienna hosts a book presentation of ‘Childhood in Kabul: My years in Afghanistan 1950-1955’ by Heide Amato-Koller

Mrs Amato-Koller and Amabssador Erfani

Mrs Amato-Koller and Ambassador Erfani

 

Vienna, 06.08.2014

The Embassy of Afghanistan in Vienna today hosted a book presentation with author Heide Amato-Koller who presented and read passages from her book detailing the period of her childhood which she spent in Kabul, titled “Kindheit in Kabul – Meine Jahre in Afghanistan 1950 – 1955”.

In his welcoming remarks, H.E. Ambassador Erfani commented that, Mrs. Amato-Koller’s book has been published at an important time of transition and transformation for Afghanistan. As young Afghans work for progress, democracy, and an open society, it is important to view the future in the light of the past.

Ambassador Erfani opened the event with introductory remarks, after which Minister-Counselor Mr. Wahab Arian introduced Mrs. Amato-Koller and her ghostwriter Mr. Mario Jandrokovic.

Ms Koller spoke of her love of the country and the wonderful friendship she made with an Afghan girl, who was her neighbor in Kabul. She also spoke of the intricacies of Afghan society and different cultural experiences she made whilst in Kabul.

Attended by a number of local officials, journalists and members of the Afghan community, the event included a reading of passages from her book and a brief Q&A session, followed by a reception in the Embassy with Afghan specialties.

 

From left: Minister/Counsellor Wahab Arian, Ambassador Erfani, Mrs Amato-Koller and Mr Jandrokovic

From left: Minister/Counsellor Wahab Arian, Ambassador Erfani, Mrs Amato-Koller and Mr Jandrokovic

 

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The Embassy & Permanent Mission of Afghanistan host a memorial ceremony and Khatme-e-Quran to honor the victims of the Paktika province terrorist attack

Vienna, 21 July 2014

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Today the Embassy and Permanent Mission of Afghanistan in Vienna hosted a memorial ceremony and Khatm-e-Quran “Fateha” in memory of the victims of a terrorist attack which occurred last Tuesday in the Argan district of Paktika province.

Members of the Afghan community, including representatives from various Afghan Associations and representatives of mosques in Austria, gathered at the Embassy and mourned the victims of one of the most devastating terrorist attacks of recent times in Afghanistan, in which almost 100 lives were lost during the holy month of Ramadan.

Following the prayers, Ambassador Erfani spoke with those gathered about the challenges still facing Afghanistan in this period and demonstrated his solidarity with the victims of the attack and their families.  The Afghan community expressed their strong solidarity with the victims in Argan district, emphasized the unity and understanding of Afghans for the need of stability in Afghanistan and expressed their readiness and commitments to join Afghans in the country and abroad who are making concentrated efforts towards a stable Afghanistan.

Ambassador Erfabi and representatives of the Afghan community

Ambassador Erfabi and representatives of the Afghan community

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Ambassador Erfani congratulates the new G-77 + China Chairmanship, The Philippines

Vienna, 16.07.2014

 

Ambassador Erfani first expressed his gratitude to Her Excellency Ambassador Yparraguirre, Permanent Representative of the Philippines, incoming Chairperson of the G-77 and China, as well as to His Excellency Ambassador Azeez, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka, outgoing Chairperson of the G-77 and China.

 

He continued by stating: “I congratulate the Philippines for taking on this responsibility and pledge our full cooperation. Let me thank you, dear Ambassador Yparraguirre for your insightful remarks and comprehensive presentation of the work programme for the rest of this year”.

 

The Ambassador then reminded about pressing economic, social and environmental challenges in some of the G-77 regions: “I applaud our shared efforts to eliminate extreme poverty and hardships”. But he also highlighted that a number of G-77 and China countries are among the emerging economies and have become drivers of global growth, and added: “Afghanistan, given its rich natural resources, young and capable workforce, and our upcoming Decade of Transformation (2015-2024), will hopefully be able to join them in the near future. I have the feeling that this will be a decade for the Afghan people, who had to suffer so incredibly much over the past three decades, and we reach for the stars.”

 

The Ambassador encouraged his fellow Permanent Representatives to sustain the momentum concerning the Millennium Development Goals, promote the empowerment of women in order to ensure full participation of women in all spheres of society.  “We believe that the women and youth are decisive forces for Afghanistan’s future development and we are committed to this end”, he noted.

 

The Ambassador also proposed the creation of an informal working group for the ongoing negotiation between G-77 and developed countries on the budget, in particular the increase of the fund for Technical Cooperation.

 

The Ambassador closed by reiterating Afghanistan’s full support to the new Chairmanship.

 

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Ambassador Erfani responds to the 2015 Serbia Chairman of the OSCE

Vienna, 15.07.2014

 

The delegation of Afghanistan joined other delegations in warmly welcoming His Excellency Ivica Dačić, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia to the OSCE Permanent Council. “We thank you, Excellency Mr. Minister, for your insightful remarks while presenting your priorities for the Serbian OSCE Chairmanship in 2015, and for your close collaboration with Switzerland” Ambassador Erfani said, also highlighting that “this is an excellent example of close co-operation and co-ordination between incoming and outgoing chairmanships in the history of the OSCE.”

 

H.E. Ayoob Erfani noted that Afghanistan has been transformed into a better place for its citizens as a result of Afghanistan’s decade-long and continuing partnership with our friends in the international community, including the OSCE: “We are a committed partner of the OSCE and are dedicated to engaging with the Serbian 2015 Chairmanship on its priorities, and we look forward to close co-operation with the Serbian Chairmanship in 2015, with the capable Ambassador Vuk Žugić, and we trust that Afghanistan will remain high on the OSCE’s agenda.”

 

A joint two-year work plan of the consecutive Swiss and Serbian Chairmanships has been agreed upon by the two countries and is widely seen as being an excellent opportunity towards continuity and consistent activities.

 

Ambassador Erfani also expressed his hope that a supportive declaration on Afghanistan could be agreed upon by OSCE participating States at the Basel OSCE Ministerial Council in December this year, and encouraged more active engagement between the OSCE participating and partner States in the framework of the OSCE’s Helsinki+40 process.

 

In closing, Ambassador Erfani stated that Afghanistan highly values its historic relationship with Serbia and wished H.E. the Minister and the people of Serbia continued success and prosperity.

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