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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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H.E. Ambassador Erfani met with Young Afghan Diplomats at the OSCE

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Vienna, 16.09.2015

Today H.E. Ambassador Erfani, along with two diplomats from the Afghan Delegation, met with up-and-coming young diplomats from Afghanistan during a special meeting at the OSCE. The meeting was hosted by the Permanent Mission of Germany to welcome young diplomats of the various Central Asian countries, including Afghanistan. The group of young diplomats were part of an international training programme organized by the German Foreign Office concerning the formation of young diplomats from all over the world. During their stay in Vienna, the young diplomats visited the OSCE and various International Organisations to get an insight into the functioning and activities of their respective missions.

During the meeting, Ambassador Erfani briefed the young Afghan diplomats various aspects of the work completed here in Vienna at various international oganisations including the UN, OSCE, UNIDO, IAEA and CTBTO. Ambassador Erfani noted the importance of training and first-hand experience for young diplomats. He congratulated the young diplomats on their efforts to improve their skills and knowledge in order to best represent Afghanistan in international affairs.

Ambassador Erfani thanked the H.E. Permanent Representative of Germany to the OSCE, Ambassador Eberhard Pohl, and the coordinators of the Young Diplomats Programme meeting. Ambassador Erfani added that Germany throughout history has proved to be a great friend of Afghanistan and for the last 14 years, has been an active member of the international community in the stabilization process in Afghanistan. Ambassador Erfani concluded specially thanked Germany for coordinating this capacity building activity and noted that capacity building remains an essential area in particular for the young generation who are a promising factor in our future.

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Minister of Counter Narcotics, Minister Azimi, Meets with Women of the Afghan Community

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Vienna, 17.09.2015

On Saturday, September 12, H.E. Minister Azimi met with women of the Afghan community in Vienna at a reception hosted by H.E. Ambassador Erfani in his residence. At the outset, H.E. Ambassador Erfani welcomed H.E. Minister Aimi and the group of 60 women and emphasized the importance of the empowerment of women in Afghanistan as vital for a prosperous and democratic Afghanistan. Ambassador Erfani introduced Minister Azimi to the intelligent, educated and committed women of the Afghan community based in Vienna and briefed the women gathered on the programs and activities of Minister Azimi during her time in Vienna. Minister Azimi’s programme included visiting Vienna in order to attend and speak at the Organization for Security Cooperation in Europe Conference on Illicit Drugs Among Young People as well as attending a briefing at the VIC where she made a presentation on the ongoing situation in the country. During both meetings, Minister Azimi reaffirmed the commitment of the government of Afghanistan in the fight against drugs.

During her reception with women from the Afghan community, Minister Azimi briefed the participants on the situation in the country for women and children, as well as addicted women and children. Minister Azimi expressed her commitment on behalf of the National Unity Government of Afghanistan to work Afghan people residing in Europe, including on issues relating to further developing rights for women, children in particular those women and children struggling with addiction. She took questions from the women on the rights for women, children, and addicts and entered into an open discussion of how Afghan women abroad can contribute to the well-being of women and children in Afghanistan, particularly those struggling with addiction.

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International Day of Democracy

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Vienna, 15.09.2015

Today’s International Day of Democracy reminds us about the importance of a democratic, pluralistic and free society and the inalienable rights of all of our citizens. Afghanistan’s young democracy has made significant progress and political participation, including among women, and is continuously growing.

We adopted a democratic constitution, held presidential, parliamentary and provincial council elections, established ministries, institutions, the rule of law, a free and independent media landscape, and we are proud of our dedicated civil society. The theme of this year’s International Day of Democracy is “Space for Civil Society” and we are committed to strengthening the ability of civil society organizations in the country as civic participation constitutes an important means for democratic, social and economic progress.

Afghanistan is a member of the Community of Democracies, a global intergovernmental coalition of more than one hundred democratic states. Last year’s inauguration of President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani marked our country’s first democratic transfer of power. We have accomplished our democratic goals through hard work and many sacrifices by the Afghan people and our international partners.

We will continue our work toward good governance, promoting democratic values and norms. 

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H.E. Minister Azimi, Minister of Counter Narcotics, Addresses OSCE Conference on Illicit Drugs among Young People

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Vienna, 10.09.2015

Today as part of the two day conference hosted by the OSCE on the “Enhancement of Mechanisms to Cope with Increasing Spread of Illicit Drugs amongst Young People”, H.E. Minister Azimi delivered a speech giving an overview of the drug control situation in Afghanistan. She noted that poppy cultivation had increased by 7% compared with previous years. Tragically, Afghanistan also witnessed an alarming increase in the rate of addiction in its people with recent surveys showing approximately 2.9 to 3.6 million Afghans could test positive for one or more drugs and 1.0 to 1.2 million of these people are children. Minister Azimi noted several challenges for Afghanistan in dealing with the drug problem, including: ineffective alternative livelihood programs and insufficient resources in the area of addiction treatment.

Success in countering narcotics will be gained through addressing the growing link between drug trade and terrorism and focusing on the root causes of illicit drug cultivation including poverty, unemployment, and lack of alternative livelihood. Minister Azimi also noted that The drivers of drug business at regional and international levels need to be addressed with a special focus on its financial aspect in combination with intensified efforts to combat trafficking in precursors. Overall success in Afghanistan, the region and the world will only come about with increased cooperation and coordination in counter narcotic efforts through information sharing. Minister Azimi further noted that More resources are needed to address the root causes of drug use among young people as well as to strengthen preventive measures including awareness raising among young people. She sees a a great potential in civil society institutions in helping with preventive measures.

Minister Azimi concluded noting that, “The National Unity Government of Afghanistan remains committed to the elimination of opium economy. In few weeks, the new Counter Narcotics Strategy of Afghanistan and the new Drug Control Action Plan will be shared with the international community which will set the priorities and the implementation plans for the years to come.” Further to this, she noted that, “While we are grateful for the support that has been provided by the international community to our counter narcotics efforts in the past 14 years including by the OSCE participating states and partners for cooperation, I hope that we will witness even greater support to the implementation of our new counter narcotics strategy and the relevant action plan in the years to come.”

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The Minister of Counter Narcotics of Afghanistan, H.E. Minister Azimi, Addresses UNGASS on World Drug Problem

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Vienna, 10.09.2015

Today, the Minister of Counter Narcotics Afghanistan, H.E. Minister Azimi, addressed for a second time the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the World Drug Problem. In her address, she presented an overview of the counter narcotics efforts in Afghanistan, the emerging challenges and trends as well as the initiatives being undertaken in Afghanistan under the new counter narcotics strategy.

Minister Azimi noted the progress made by Afghanistan in cooperation with the international partners over the past 14 years but despite this progress, illicit narcotics continue to inflict a great deal of damage to Afghan society, the broader region and the world. Minister Azimi elaborated that the first challenge in counter narcotics is that organized crime groups continue to strengthen in the region and abroad including the trafficking of drugs and drug precursors to Afghanistan. She called for improved border security and continued cooperation and support from the international community. A second, challenge is the alarming increase in those addicted to drugs in Afghanistan in recent years. Minister Azimi noted that there are three million addicts in the country with 9% being children and 11% women. She called for integrated efforts in both prevention and treatment to address this tragic phenomenon. The third challenge to be faced is that those farmers involved in poppy cultivation must do so for their livelihood, yet receive only 4% of the 61$ billion illicit drug business. Minister Azimi called for provision of sustainable livelihoods which must be a part of the broader economic development agenda.

In her conclusion, Minister Azimi noted, “The National Unity Government of Afghanistan remains committed to the elimination of opium economy. The new Counter Narcotics Strategy of Afghanistan and the relevant action plan will soon be shared with the international community which will set the priorities and the implementation plans for the years to come… While we are committed to the implementation of such programs and initiatives, we will need continued long-term and demand-driven support to our counter narcotics efforts in the years to come. Our international partners have already provided considerable support including through UNODC, for which we are grateful.”


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H.E. Ambassador Efani Welcomes H.E. Minister Azimi to the UN General Assembly on World Drug Problem

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Vienna, 10.09.2015

H.E. Ambassador Erfani, in his role as Vice-Chair of the Board tasked by the Counter Narcotics Division with the preparations for the UN General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem in 2016, welcomed the Minister of Counter Narcotics of Afghanistan, H.E. Minister Azimi. He noted that UNGASS on the World Drug Problem in 2016 is crucial for shaping collective efforts in light of new challenges, trends and realities toward accomplishing counter narcotic targets.

Ambassador Erfani thanked the international community for their continued support towards Afghanistan and noted that while Afghanistan has come far in the last 14 years, challenges remain and support is still needed. He noted that Minister Azimi would speak on the main challenges still faced by Afghanistan in terms of illicit narcotics as well as the commitments and programs Afghanistan has for the next three years to address the challenges of drugs. After Minister Azimi’s speech, Ambassador Erfani chaired comments from the delegates present and thank them for their continued interest and support for Afghanistan and for their commitment in the truly global fight against narcotics.

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The Embassy and Permanent Mission of Afghanistan commemorates the ‘Week of Martyrs’

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Today, to commemorate the ‘Week of Martyrs’ the Embassy and Permanent Mission of Afghanistan in Vienna hosted a religious ceremony to remember those who had given their lives in the fight for a free, independent, prosperous  and united Afghanistan. Members of the Afghan community, heads of Afghan civil society, as well as religious leaders and Embassy staff, joined Ambassador Erfani in commemorating those who had fallen, through a prayer service.

All attendees participated in the ceremony with Afghan women, men and youth reading passages from the Koran to honour those who sacrificed their lives over the three decades of war and conflict in Afghanistan.

Following the religious ceremony, Ambassador Erfani spoke of theimportance of remembering the many Afghans who lost their lives in the fight to protect the ideals of freedom, equality and liberty in the country. Ambassador Erfani statted that today, the 9th of September, is the 14th Anniversary of the martyrdom of Afghan national hero Ahmad Shah Massoud who was assassinated by two terrorists just two days before the September 11th attacks on the United States. People of Afghanistan lost their very dear leaders, among them Professor Rabbani, Haji Qadir, Abdullah Karzai, Motalliab Beg, Ahmad Khan Samangani, Sayed Mustafa Kazemi, Abdul Rahim Ghafoorzai and others from all ethnic groups of Afghanistan. They will be remembered in the heart and mind of peace loving Afghans. Ambassador Erfani spoke of how now, more than ever, it is vital that we not forget the sacrifice they have made and how we must continue to protect these ideals during this essential Decade of Transformation (2015-2024). Afghanistan has achieved so much in way of stability and prosperity for the country that we must continue to strive to ensure these achievements are not destroyed by enemies of Afghanistan.  Ambassador Erfani concluded by paying tribute to the Martyrs of Afghanistan by expressing strong solidarity and sympathy with the victims and their families who fought in order to achieve a free and prosperous Afghanistan. He also thanked the sacrifices made by the partners in the international community over the last three decades. He said all Afghans and international friends will always be remembered for the sacrifice they made and we will continue to work towards accomplishing the wish of the Afghan Martyrs for a stable, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan.

Following the ceremony and discussion, those in attendance had the opportunity to speak of and discuss with Ambassador Erfani and Embassy staff of those who they have lost to the actions of destructive forces in the country and of the ongoing situation in the country.

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Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Salahuddin Rabbani delivers press conference on the Sixth Regional Economic Cooperation Conference for Afghanistan (RECCA)

 

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Kabul, 04.09.2015

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan hosted the Sixth Regional Economic Cooperation Conference for Afghanistan (RECCA-VI) in Kabul. During the two day conference, technical working groups, academic sessions and senior officials met to discuss issues relating to regional cooperation. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Salahuddin Rabbani, during his press conference regarding RECCA, stated that the conference was important not as a means of finding finances for Afghanistan but rather to create an effective regional economic and trade mechanism. He noted that all regional countries would benefit from the work done in the RECCA projects and that establishing a constructive engagement through regional cooperation and active diplomacy will result in a win-win situation for the region.

H.E. Rabbani noted contributions from the participants of the conference including welcoming, “the Heart of Asia Process regarding the regional cooperation for a secure and stable Afghanistan and emphasized that there should be further coordination between the Heart of Asia Process and RECCA projects which have priority.”

H.E. Rabbani concluded his statements noting that, “The participants appreciated and thanked the United Nations, European Union, and other international financial organizations and the Government of Afghanistan also appreciated and thanked all the countries for their active presence in this conference which brings encouragement and hope for Afghanistan’s bright economic and security future.”

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Ambassador Erfani addresses UNODC anti-corruption meeting

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Vienna, 01.09.2015

 Today, H.E. Ayoob Erfani delivered a statement at the sixth session of the open-ended intergovernmental working group on the prevention of corruption, a 3-day meeting organized by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

The Ambassador started by highlighting the significance of the working group meetings as excellent opportunities for exchange of information, experiences and lessons learned. He continued by recalling that tackling the underlying drivers and challenges of corruption remains crucial, also in Afghanistan. “We have taken specific steps at national and international levels in Afghanistan, and for the last 14 years, the Government of Afghanistan supported by the international community has made considerable efforts in areas such as institutional building, legislation and policy development”, he said.

Mr. Ambassador underscored the important role of Afghanistan’s High Office of Oversight and Anti-Corruption, established in 2008. He also emphasized the relevance of the country’s Financial Intelligence Unit and of the government’s anti-corruption strategy. He made reference to the government’s efforts with regards to combatting money laundering, also on regional and international levels, and stated the importance of integrity, transparency and accountability in the area of public procurement. Among other things, the National Unity Government has created the National Procurement Commission to secure better results in this area. The Ambassador also mentioned the crucial role of civil society organizations.

Ambassador Erfani concluded by declaring that “the Government of Afghanistan is committed to further strengthen its capacity in the prevention of corruption including in preventing money laundering as well as to take its reform agenda into the procurement and financial management systems. While we are grateful for the support we have received thus far from the international community including through UNODC, our anti-corruption agencies will continue to need technical support including in the implementation of their preventive programs and initiatives.”

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