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Ambassador Ayoob Erfani’s meeting with the Governor of Lower Austria, H.E. Dr. Erwin Proell

Vienna, 26.11.2013    H.E. Ambassador Ayoob Erfani today met the Governor of Lower Austria, Dr. Erwin Proell, in the provincial capital, Sankt Poelten. Mr. Ambassador was warmly received by the Governor and the two engaged in a productive exchange on issues of mutual interest: Both agreed that relations between Lower Austria and Afghan provinces may be enhanced in areas including but not limited to: Improvement of the living conditions of Afghan refugees; Trade – possibly facilitated by Lower Austria’s business agency EcoPlus and the Lower Austrian branch of the Chamber of Commerce;  Education and exchange of students; Technology including knowledge transfer and technical support for the Radiotherapy Center in Kabul, as well as in the areas of energy, biotechnology and agriculture; Provision of vehicles and machinery for Afghan fire fighters and other emergency services and first responders; and sharing experiences concerning regional cooperation, based on the highly successful establishment of the Lower Austria-Bratislava region cooperation model.

Mr. Ambassador also explained the current political and socio-economic situation in the country and provided information regarding the upcoming Transition (2014) and Decade of Transformation (2015-2024) in Afghanistan. Ambassador Erfani then presented a brief overview about recent achievements and remaining challenges in the country and expressed his intention to work towards increased and strengthened relations between Afghanistan and Austria also on the provincial level. Governor Proell concurred with the views expressed by Mr. Ambassador and declared to cooperate in identifying additional areas of cooperation.

Ambassador Erfani thanked the Governor and his staff for the friendly reception and fruitful meeting and assured to remain in close contact with a view to advancing the relations between Lower Austria and Afghan provinces for the benefit of the people of Austria and Afghanistan.



Ambassador Ayoob Erfani discusses further engagement of the OSCE with Afghanistan at the second gathering of the OSCE’s informal group of Friends of Afghanistan

Vienna, 15.11.2013    Today’s second meeting of the OSCE’s informal group of Friends of Afghanistan was organized and hosted by the Canadian Ambassador to the OSCE, H.E. Ambassador Isabelle Poupart. In the first part of the meeting, the Secretary General of the OSCE, H.E. Lamberto Zannier provided the group with a comprehensive summary of OSCE activities in support of Afghanistan and answered questions from participants. During the second part of the meeting, H.E Permanent Representative of Ukraine briefed the participants on Political Declaration Draft id support of Afghanistan to be adopted  by OSCE Ministerial in Kyiv/Ukraine on 5 and 6 December.

After thanking Canada for arranging and hosting the meeting , he continued by appreciating the significant role of the participants’ countries: “I am very pleased to be surrounded by so many friends and partners of the Afghan people who supported us for the last 12 years and their continued support will remain essential for a successful transition to a stable and prosperous Afghanistan.”

The Ambassador then commended the OSCE Secretary General for his comprehensive  summary on OSCE’s working programs and priorities with Afghanistan, and called him a “true friend and strong supporter of Afghanistan”. Ambassador Erfani also reiterated the strong commitment of the Afghan Government towards the partnership with the OSCE, highlighted the OSCE’s important work for Afghanistan through its Academy in Bishkek and the Border Management Staff College in Dushanbe, while pointing to the fact that there are still opportunities for “OSCE’s more proactive engagement to help Afghanistan for the sake of a stability of the OSCE region , including through the implementation of the “ Heart of Asia” CBMs” .

Ambassador Erfani thanked the Ukraine, holding the Chairmanship of the OSCE in 2013 and therefore hosting the Ministerial Council in December, for their great efforts in drafting the 2013 Ministerial Council Declaration, declaring “the strong interest and support of the OSCE in the successful long-term transformation of Afghanistan”, thereby sending a strong, positive message to the people of Afghanistan.

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Ambassador Ayoob Erfani participated at a panel on “Sharing Responsibility to Protect the Human Rights of Migrants”

Ambassador Erfani addressed today’s panel discussion on the issue of “Sharing Responsibility to Protect the Human Rights of Migrants”. Following complimentary remarks, he stressed the significance of the subject matter for Afghanistan. The Ambassador also pointed out the global nature of the issue of migration and that shared responsibility and regional and international cooperation is required to address concomitant challenges. Explaining the situation in Afghanistan following the liberation from the Taliban regime, the Ambassador stated that “the Afghan government has managed to repatriate over five million of our refugees back into their villages, districts and provinces in Afghanistan – the largest return of refugees to their home country in modern history”. However, there are still nearly 2.6 million Afghan refugees, mostly in neighboring countries Iran and Pakistan, and 400,000 internally displaced persons or IDPs.

Ambassador Erfani also noted that “the Afghan government remains fully committed to the continued voluntary, gradual and dignified return of all Afghan refugees back to the country, in accordance with all bilateral, trilateral and regional mechanisms, and based on existing international norms and regulations. The Afghan government will continue to do everything possible to create the right conditions for our refugee brothers and sisters to permanently return to a safe and dignified life in their own country.”

Mr. Ambassador also encouraged increased international cooperation to combat international crime organizations victimizing the poorest through human trafficking and people smuggling. While thanking the refugees host countries for their hospitality, the Ambassador recalled the importance of UN conventions and the EU charter which codify human rights for everyone, regardless of the status of migration and called on host countries to protect the human rights of migrants and refugees and avoid the “criminalization” of irregular migration and using detention as to deter people from migrating or seeking asylum”.

. Furthermore, Ambassador Erfani explained that Afghanistan continues to require support throughout its Decade of Transformation (2015-2024), also in the field of repatriation: Creation of sufficient absorption capacities and suitable conditions for returnees requires international support: “Our refugees, both internally and externally, are our great national assets and we cannot afford to not fully engage them in our process of stabilization and development. To do so, we need education, training, knowledge-transfer, infrastructure, housing and creation of jobs and other prospects.”

He concluded by thanking the host countries once again and recalled the importance of protection of human rights of migrants and refugees, and provision of education and training for them.

Ambassador Ayoob Erfani discusses youth empowerment in Afghanistan at an OSCE meeting on Afghanistan.

Vienna, 30.10.2013    Today, H.E. Ayoob Erfani attended a breakfast meeting held by the Slovenian delegation to the OSCE to discuss youth empowerment in Afghanistan, in particular in the areas of human rights education and mine risk education. Also in attendance were Ambassadors and delegates from Austria, Turkey, the EU, the Russian Federation, the U.S., Canada, Norway, Switzerland, Serbia, Australia, Japan and the OSCE secretariat.

Ambassador ErfaniFollowing a presentation by the Slovenian Ambassador, Blanka Jamnišek, on a proposed human rights education project for Afghanistan, Ambassador Erfani shared some comments and experiences on youth education in Afghanistan. He began by thanking the Slovenian delegation for being champions of human rights in Afghanistan. “Afghanistan is proud about its decade of achievements, in the areas of democracy, human rights, and in particular children’s rights and the empowerment of youth. The younger generation constitutes the majority in Afghanistan, with 65% of the population under 25 years of age. Our youth remain critical to the future stability and prosperity of Afghanistan. Youth empowerment is a process – we need more assistance in this area to ensure that this process comes to a successful and positive completion for the future of Afghanistan, our youth. We need further assistance in building schools and educating our teachers. Afghanistan progressed rapidly from the days where families wanted their children to work from a young age, now parents demand education for their children. However, their demands will continue to go unheard as long as the infrastructure to support them is unavailable. Afghanistan has achieved so much in the area of youth empowerment, 10 million of our children are currently enrolled in regular schooling and literacy levels have improved dramatically: 45% of our boys and 25% of our girls. It is essential that protect and consolidate these achievements so that they are not hijacked by anti-government elements. Thereby it is of upmost importance that those interested parties here today and the OSCE continue to strive to develop these ‘deep security’ and prevention tools”.

The proposed project, if supported would train teachers across Afghanistan on human rights and mine risk education to be relayed to the children in Afghanistan. Afghanistan welcomes the initiative, which should be well coordinated with Afghan Government projects and based on Afghan needs and culture.






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Ambassador Ayoob Erfani discusses gender issues at the OSCE

Vienna, 08.10.2013    Today, H.E. Ayoob Erfani had two meetings at the OSCE: He first met Her Excellency Ambassador Miroslava Beham, OSCE’s Senior Advisor on Gender Issues — a very productive meeting, which was followed by another fruitful encounter, with Mr. John Crownover of the Bosnia and Herzegovina branch of CARE International.

In his meeting with Ambassador Beham and her team, Mr. Ambassador Erfani discussed the vital role of the women of Afghanistan in the country’s struggle for peace, freedom and democracy, given the fact that more than 50% of the population of Afghanistan are women and that their full engagement is indispensable in order to secure the country’s future. Both agreed that the role of the OSCE in empowerment of women in Afghanistan should be further enhanced and that respective projects and programmes should be put on top of the agenda in the co-operation between Afghanistan and the OSCE, with a view to enabling the women of Afghanistan to play comprehensively active roles in all spheres of society, including politics, economy, health, culture and education.

Afghanistan, with the assistance of the international community, has achieved great progress over the past twelve years, in many areas, including gender issues. Ambassador Erfani also mentioned that women run for the post of President and Vice-President in next year’s elections. Nonetheless, remaining challenges need to be and will be addressed, in order to fully meet Afghanistan’s constitutional but also international obligations. The Government of Afghanistan remains committed to safeguard total equality of women and men in the country.

In the meeting with Mr. Crownover of CARE, Mr. Ambassador Erfani again stressed the imperative of gender equality and future ways and means of fully achieving this noble goal were discussed. At the heart of accomplishing this goal lies the gender education of Afghanistan’s kids and students.

Ambassador Ayoob Erfani meets the Ambassadors of the five Central Asian OSCE participating States to discuss the outcome document on Afghanistan of the upcoming OSCE Ministerial Council (Kyiv/Ukraine, December 5-6, 2013)

Vienna, 07.10.13     Today, Ambassador Erfani met the Ambassadors of the  five Central Asian OSCE participating States — Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan —   to discuss the Kyiv OSCE Ministerial Council’s outcome document on Afghanistan.

At the meeting, proposed by the Tajik Ambassador, Ambassador Erfani briefed his colleagues on Afghanistan’s expectations of the outcome document to be adopted in Kyiv. Ambassador Erfani stated that Afghanistan gives great importance to its relationship with the OSCE and that the “backbone of Afghanistan’s foreign policy is and will remain a commitment to good relations with our partners in the region”.  The Ambassador added that Afghanistan is proud of its achievements over the past 12 years and remains grateful for the support from the OSCE and its neighbors, especially as part of the Confidence-Building Measures of the ‘Heart of Asia’ process. He noted “Our goal for the OSCE is for the organization to play a more proactive role in strengthening regional co-operation, which will be even more relevant during the Decade of Transformation. Our expectation of this political declaration is for it to be a supportive document, which will contribute to a stable region and help to address Afghanistan’s challenges, which also remain challenges to the region”.

Ambassador Erfani stressed that strengthening the relationship with Afghanistan’s neighbors remains a priority of Afghan foreign policy. In addition, Afghanistan maintains its commitment to discuss all relevant issues with its neighbors, including close co-operation on outcome documents. These views were supported by the other Ambassadors who expressed the need for further co-operation and communication on a bilateral level. Ambassador Erfani raised the necessity for a ‘Friends of Afghanistan’ working group to discuss and develop methods to deal with different issues. He briefed his fellow Ambassadors on the importance of such groups within the OSCE, which would be a cohesive platform for further co-operation in the Decade of Transformation. In conclusion, Ambassador Erfani thanked the Ambassadors and stated his appreciation for the important political support which Afghanistan receives from the region.                                                                                                                                                      -END-

Ambassador Ayoob Erfani made statement at the OSCE Security Committee meetIng

Vienna, 30.09.2013    At today’s meeting of the OSCE’s Security Committee, presentations on Border Security and Management in Tajikistan were made by Mr. Manuchehr Mahmudov, Head of Territorial and Border Settlement Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan, and Mr. Suhrob Kaharov, Tajikistan Country Manager of the Border Management Programme in Central Asia (BOMCA), launched by the European Union in 2003.

Following the presentation by Tjikistan’s delegation, the representative of some countries, among other issues,expressed their concerns from the pssible security challenges from  Afghanistan after drow down of international security forces in 2014.

H.E. Ayoob Erfani welcomed the two speakers to the OSCE, thanked them for their excellent briefings, expressed Afghanistan’s appreciation of the friendly and brotherly relationship it enjoys with Tajikistan, and highlighted the “enhanced level of co-operation on bilateral, trilateral and quadrilateral levels, as well as regional initiatives such as the Istanbul Process and international mechanisms, which are essential not just for the well-being of our two nations but for the security, stability and economic development of our entire region and beyond”.

Ambassador Erfani continued by stressing the fact that “Afghanistan is now approaching  an important milestone: the process of Transition, which will be completed at the end 2014 and which will lead us into the Decade of Transformation (2015-2024) that will mark a new era of partnership between Afghanistan and the international community.” During the 12 years of partnership with its friends in the international community, Afghanistan managed to establish all necessary institutions, including its national security forces, to defend the country against both internal and external threats. Despite great achievements in most areas, Afghanistan is still facing certain challenges, including terrorism, drugs and other organized crimes. Ambassador Erfani noted that “it is the shared responsibility of all OSCE participating and partner States to address these transnational threats and common challenges.”, and he concluded his remarks by stating that “I would like to emphasize that as of 2014, Afghanistan shall not be seen as  source of a security threat to our region, which includes five OSCE participating states;  I would like to assure you all that ,Afghanistan is committed to be a source of good neighborly relations, stability, transit, investment , exchange and connectivity in our region”.

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Ambassador Ayoob Erfani met Dr. Ernst Vitek, Director of Botany at Vienna’s Museum of Natural History

Vienna, 23.09.2013

H.E. Ayoob M. Erfani today visited Vienna’s Museum of Natural History (NHM) where he met Dr. Ernst Vitek, Director of Botany, who showed the Ambassador around the museum, in the spirit of the museum’s fine tradition of strong external cooperation. The Museum regularly conducts external collecting expeditions, hence its Department of Botany holds specimen from all over the world, with its herbarium possessing numerous historically important collections.

Remarkably, it also holds the world’s largest collection of Afghan plant materials. Dr. Vitek explained his work in the library of the museum, where countless boxes can be found, each containing a dried and preserved plant, which has been identified and labelled, including information about its locality. In the 1960s, a botanist established a herbarium for Kabul University and another one for NHM. Ever since, Asia has ranked among NHM’s geographical focuses: The Orient, The Caucasus and the region of Flora Iranica. Mr. Ambassador Erfani emphasized the importance of enabling Kabul University with access to that database so that both academics and students can utilize it, with a view to adding new information as they continue to study the ecology of the country. There are about 20,000 plants of the Kabul University Herbarium, with a total of 70,000 plants from around the globe – all available online with images, presenting a great potential resource for the Agriculture Faculty, the Botany Faculty and other related faculties. Dr. Vitek generously indicated the Museum’s readiness to assist with instructions, by stating that he and his team would either be willing to travel to Kabul University to run a workshop on how to use the database, or else host a team from Kabul in Vienna to become conversant with the system.
Mr. Ambassador Erfani thanked Dr. Vitek for his time and both pledged to remain in close contact.
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Ambassador Ayoob Erfani discusses Afghanistan’s priorities in its cooperation with the IAEA

Vienna, 20.09.2013

H.E. Ambassador Ayoob Erfani, Resident Representative of Afghanistan to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is heading the Afghan delegation to the IAEA’s 57th General Conference (16-20 September 2013). At the margins of the conference, Mr. Ambassador met with a team of the IAEA to discuss Afghanistan’s priorities in its fruitful partnership with the Agency, concerning relevant matters of technical cooperation and safeguards. With regards to the issue of safeguards, Ambassador Erfani stressed Afghanistan’s commitment to meet its international obligations and briefed the IAEA team on measures, which have been taken by the Government of Afghanistan, including the finalization of a National Nuclear Law, as well as ratifications of conventions, and providing reports to the IAEA.

As to matters of technical cooperation., Ambassador informed the IAEA team on the ongoing progress at the national level , in particular the establishment of Comprehensive Cancer Center as well as a radiotherapy center at the Aliabad Hospital in Kabul, and emphasized the importance of the Agency’s role in building national capacities inside Afghanistan with a view to proactively addressing the needs of the country, but also to enhance effectiveness of response mechanisms in line with the country’s international obligations . Furthermore, Ambassador Erfani expressed Afghanistan’s commitment to its continued cooperation with the IAEA and stressed the Government’s pursuit towards increased efficiency of the IAEA programs in the country. The delegations of Afghanistan and the IAEA both noted the importance of close future partnership to be outlined in the technical cooperation programme for the years 2016-2017. Ambassador Erfani stressed that “Kabul expects the Agency to play an active role in the implementation of approved projects”. Among other issues discussed were the development of a fellowship program for Afghan experts and co-hosting training workshops and seminars aimed at improved implementation of agreements. Ambassador Erfani highlighted the previous achievements and stressed the need for close future collaboration, and concluded the meeting by thanking the IAEA team for their commitment and readiness to support Afghanistan.       Link:   – END –

Ambassador Ayoob Erfani addresses the OSCE Permanent Council

Vienna, 19.09.2013

H.E. Ambassador Erfani warmly welcomed the Head of the OSCE Office in Tajikistan, H.E. Ambassador Markus Mueller to the Permanent Council meeting and thanked him for his briefing, in clouding OSCE’s engagement with Afghanistan. Ambassador highlighted the important work of the Border Staff Management College (BSMC) – created by the OSCE and hosted by Tajikistan, in particular BMSC’s efforts towards capacity building for Afghan border officers.

Ambassador Erfani noted, “We believe that Ambassador Mueller’s personal knowledge about the region including Afghanistan will greatly contribute to the success of the OSCE’s work in our region.”

He also pointed out that “Afghanistan is strongly committed to the principle of good neighborhood and dedicated to close co-operation with our neighbors, both bilaterally as well as through regional mechanisms” and that those means of co-operation constitute “core elements of our foreign policy”. Ambassador Erfani also reiterated the “excellent relations Afghanistan enjoys with its neighboring OSCE participating States, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan”.

Mr. Erfani also stressed that “the involvement of the OSCE through the BMSC in Dushanbe and the OSCE Academy in Bishkek remains vital to help Afghanistan and its neighboring OSCE participating States to effectively address today’s common challenges”. Afghanistan actively plays its part to become an even stronger contributor for stability, connectivity and development in our region, and continues to appreciate the role of the OSCE in supporting Afghanistan through its Transition to the decade of Transformation”.

Mr Ambassador Erfani concluded by wishing Ambassador Mueller success in his important mission to serve the cause of stability of that region.     LINK: