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Statement by H.E. Hekmat Khalil Karzai, Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan at the 22nd Meeting of the OSCE Ministerial Council

Belgrade, December 03-04, 2015

 

Mr. Chairman,

Mr. Secretary General,

Excellencies,

Distinguished delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very pleased to join you all at this 22nd Meeting of the OSCE Ministerial Council. And I would like to thank our Serbian friends for the gracious and warm hospitality they have extended to my delegation, as well as for their excellent chairmanship of the OSCE this year.
I also wish to thank the Secretary General and his able staff for their assistance with organizing this meeting. And I also wish to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to all distinguished delegations for continuing to support Afghanistan.

Mr. Chairman,

This year, we are gathering at a very crucial time. As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the OSCE, the role of this organization is becoming more evident in addressing the transnational threats, including terrorism, organized crime and narcotics, which continue to pose challenges to the security and stability of the participating States and Partners for Co-operation. 40 years after the establishment of the OSCE, its vision and goals as a forward-looking organization remain very relevant in today’s security environment. The organization has proved to be an effective forum for dialogue and co-operation in addressing the most pressing security issues that have an impact on the OSCE region and beyond.

We believe that the OSCE has the potential to grow and expand in the future. As a Partner for Co-operation, Afghanistan reiterates its firm commitment to the principles, norms and values of the OSCE, as we look forward to a sustainable partnership with the organization.

Mr. Chairman, and distinguished participants,

14 years ago, Afghanistan and the international community embarked on a common journey aimed at bringing security and stability in Afghanistan, the region and the wider world. This common journey has been marked by considerable efforts and sacrifices that have resulted in many positive changes in the country, which can be exemplified by:

  • Establishment of the democratic institutions;
  • An expanding education system that allows more than 10 million boys and girls to attend school and over 150,000 others to pursue higher education across the country;
  • Increased access to health care services;
  • A vibrant civil society, including free media; and
  • Increased access for women to justice, economic and political opportunities as well as well-trained national security forces.

These achievements would have been impossible without the support and sacrifices of our international partners, for which we are grateful.

2014 and 2015 have been two years of high significance for us in Afghanistan, marking a milestone transition in this journey. Despite many challenges, two important security and political transitions were made possible.

Our National Security Forces were able to take over the security responsibility from the international forces in a phased manner. On December 31, last year, all combat operations were handed over to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). Our international partners continue to support ANSF under the Resolute Support Mission, in the form of training, advice and assistance. In this regard, I would like to express my gratitude to all those international friends, who have contributed, for many years, to the NATO/ISAF mission and those contributing to the Resolute Support Mission.

The political transition marked an important milestone in Afghanistan’s journey that began in the post-2001 period. Despite many security threats, the Afghan people, both men and women, lined up in the polling stations last year to cast their votes. This demonstrated their unshakeable commitment to democracy, peace and stability. In spite of all the shortcomings and irregularities, we were able to peacefully complete the first ever-democratic transfer of power in the country’s history that resulted in the formation of the National Unity Government of Afghanistan.

With these two transitions behind us, we have now taken steady steps towards the broader process of transitioning into a self-reliant country. Last year this time, we presented to our international partners in London our reform agenda entitled “Realizing Self-Reliance: Commitments to Reforms and Renewed Partnership.”

This outlines our plans for, “improving security, political stability, economic and fiscal stabilization, advancing good governance, including electoral reform and strengthening democratic institutions, promoting the rule of law, and respect for human rights, particularly in relation to women and girls, fighting corruption and the illicit economy including narcotics, and paving the way for enhanced private sector investments and sustainable social, environmental and economic development.”

During the Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) held in September this year in Kabul, the Afghan government and our international partners reaffirmed their commitment to working together towards the implementation of this reform agenda. We are also preparing for two important conferences next year, first in Warsaw to discuss security and an enhanced enduring partnership between Afghanistan and the International Community and the Brussels Conference to discuss development co-operation in order to ensure continuity in the co-operation in the coming years.

Mr. Chairman and Colleagues,

Terrorism continues to pose serious challenges to the stability and development of our societies. The recent terrorist attacks in France, Turkey, Lebanon and Mali remind us of the fact that terrorists recognize no borders, nationality or religion. For many years, Afghanistan has been the prime victim of this menace and continues to pay the highest price and sacrifice, and suffer the most in fighting this scourge.

These terrorist attacks as well as the events in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya are linked with each other. Afghanistan is the battle-front and we are fighting terrorism and extremism, on behalf of everyone in the international community. We believe that addressing such a growing network of terrorist groups across the globe requires co-ordinated, collective and sustained efforts at all levels. We have long raised the importance of such efforts that need to be mainly directed towards dismantling the safe havens of terrorists where they are financed and equipped in our region.

It is also important to note that the links between terrorism, narcotics and various forms of organized crime are growing across the globe. Terrorists continue to benefit from drug production and trafficking to finance their activities. The Government of Afghanistan is committed to continuing its counter narcotics efforts. We have developed our new National Drug Action Plan based on a balanced, comprehensive, co-ordinated, and sustainable approach to combating illegal drug production, trade, and usage. The new action plan integrates key elements of counter narcotics efforts including alternative development, eradication, interdiction, and drug treatment and prevention into broader efforts to further good governance, economic development, security and stability.

Given the regional and global drivers of drug production and trafficking—including its financial aspect—addressing this menace requires an integrated and balanced efforts by all of us based on the principle of shared responsibility.

Migration has become another serious challenge we are all facing, and the Government of Afghanistan understands your challenges and concerns in managing this exodus. We have taken a number of concrete measures in Afghanistan including the establishment of a National Refugees and Repatriation Commission by the cabinet that is personally chaired by President Ghani. We are also working to improve the capacity of our Consulates in different parts of the world to provide better consular services. Recently, President Ghani himself launched the Jobs for Peace project to create jobs that have been lost, following the drawdown of the NATO forces. We hope this project would help slow down the emigration of our youth. However, the success of these projects would require a reasonable level of resources to be provided by the international community.

Mr. Chairman,

Regional co-operation remains key in addressing regional challenges and threats as well as in utilizing the opportunities for stabilization and development at both national and regional levels. Afghanistan has been pursuing a well-developed regional co-operation agenda mainly under two important Afghanistan-focused regional co-operation frameworks: RECCA and the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process. The Istanbul Process, launched in 2011, has provided a forum for dialogue and co-operation to address our common challenges through a set of confidence building measures. I believe that the Istanbul Process can greatly benefit from the longstanding experience of the OSCE in the area of regional confidence building and I am glad to see that the organization has been part of many activities under the Istanbul Process. We are also pursuing our greater regional economic co-operation agenda through RECCA aimed at reviving the historical role of Afghanistan as a regional land-bridge facilitating, the flow of people, goods and investments across the region and beyond.

Mr. Chairman,

We highly value our present partnership with the OSCE. Since 2003, this partnership has been continuously expanded and Afghanistan has greatly benefited from its engagement with the organization including from the projects approved in two ministerial decisions made in 2007 and 2011 respectively. These projects cover all three dimensions of security and include areas such as border security and management, training for law enforcement, customs and counter narcotics officers, cross border trade facilitation, economic development, electoral support and good governance, water management, anti-trafficking and freedom of media.

Let me commend here the work of the OSCE Academy in Bishkek, the Border Management Staff College in Dushanbe, the Advanced Training Institute in Domodedovo as well as the OSCE Centre in Bishkek and the OSCE Office in Tajikistan in implementing most of these projects. I would also like to express our appreciation to all those participating States and Partners for Co-operation that have provided financial support to the implementation of these projects. I also wish to thank the OSCE for deploying its election support teams to Afghanistan over the past ten years including for the 2014 election. My Government will make good use of the recommendations made in this regard. I am pleased to inform you that our Electoral Reforms Commission has been working hard over the past few months and has recently submitted its first set of recommendations to the government.

As we are embarking on the Decade of Transformation, and in the light of the specific needs associated with this important period, we look forward to further deepening and strengthening our partnership with the organization.

In conclusion, while we appreciate once again the special attention placed on Afghanistan by the Serbian Chairmanship during this year, we hope that engagement with Afghanistan will remain a priority on the OSCE’s agenda under the incoming German chairmanship. In this context, we are ready to work closely with the organization to explore additional areas of co-operation with the OSCE.
Thank you

Statement by Mr. Hassan Soroosh, Counselor of the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan in Vienna at the 4th Session of the IACA’s Assembly of Parties

Vienna, 9-11 December 2015

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Madam President,

Mr. Executive Secretary,

Excellencies,

Distinguished delegates,

I am pleased to attend this 4th Session of the IACA Assembly of Parties. On behalf of the Delegation of Afghanistan, I would like to congratulate you Madam President and other members of the Bureau on your election. I would also like to thank the Republic of Azerbaijan and the IACA leadership for the efforts and achievements over the past 12 months.

We are encouraged by increased interest in the activities of IACA which can be exemplified by the growing number of parties joining the Academy over the past 4 years.

In view of the ever-changing nature of corruption and its growing links with organized crime, narcotics and in some cases, terrorism, IACA’s holistic approach to corruption remains very relevant in our efforts to combat this menace.

Madam President,

Corruption in its various forms continues to pose challenges to rule of law, governance, socio-economic development, security and stability of our societies. In Afghanistan, tackling the underlying drivers of corruption has remained a top priority in our national agenda over the past few years and our efforts in this important area range from institutional building to legislation and policy development.

Afghanistan ratified the United Nations Convention against Corruption August 2008 and acceded to the Agreement for the Establishment of the International Anti-Corruption Academy as an International Organization in March 2013.

Our recent efforts in the area of legislation include the enactment of the new Anti-Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Law and the new Law on Extradition as well as the modification and revision of various anti-corruption related laws and regulations including those pertaining to the provision of public services.

In the area of institutional building, along with the establishment of the High Office of Anti-Corruptionmandated with a unifying oversight function to coordinate, supervise and support all anti-corruption efforts in Afghanistan, the Financial Intelligence Unit of Afghanistan, the Special Anti-Corruption Court and the Special Anti-Corruption Unit at the Office of the Attorney General have also been established.

At the operational level, more than 2000 cases of corruption have been registered and investigated by the High Office of Anti-Corruption over the past five years. Considerable progress has also been made in the area of asset declaration by the high-ranking government officials.Over the past five years, 8000 asset declaration forms have been registered. Additionally, various anti-corruption public awareness programs have been implemented by the High Office of Anti-Corruption with support from the relevant government agencies as well as civil society institutions, private sector associations, academic communities, religious institutions, professional associations, youth and women’s groups.

Madam President,

The newly established National Unity Government of Afghanistan is committed to further strengthening our efforts to build integrity and accountability and combat corruption.H.E. the President has stressed on many occasions that the government will show zero tolerance with regard to corruption. Under the new government, efforts are under way to further improve theexisting legal, policy and institutional frameworks for combating corruption.

As highlighted in the Baku Declaration, anti-corruption education, professional training, technical assistance, andresearch are important components of successful anti-corruption strategies. In this context, Afghanistan will need long-term, sustainable, effective and demand-driven technical assistance and capacity-building support including under the High Office of Anti-Corruption. We, in particular, attach great significance to anti-corruption education and research. With reference to the Baku Declaration, let me state that Afghanistan would appreciate any support to initiatives designed to enhance our anti-corruption environment through education and training, at national, regional and international levels with a focus on the provision of scholarships for qualified candidates from our country.

We highly value our engagement with IACA and have already benefited from various activities and opportunities available under the Academy. We hope that we will be able to further benefit from the academic programmes, standardized and tailor-made trainings, dialogue and networking, as well as train-the-trainers programmes.

Thank you.

Statement by the Delegation of Afghanistan at the OSCE Special Permanent Council Meeting on recent terrorist attacks in Paris

Thank you Mr. Chairman,

On behalf of the Delegation of Afghanistan, I would like to express our deepest sympathy and condolences to the government and people of France over the recent terrorist attacks in Paris that claimed the lives of many innocent people and injured many others. As a prime victim of terrorism, the people of Afghanistan feel the pain of the People of France and share their grief at this difficult time.

As stated in a statement by H.E.  President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani:

“The barbaric and indiscriminate killing of innocent citizens in Paris is virtually horrible and demonstrates the fact that the terrorists are the enemies of humanity and do not recognize any border,”

Another statement by H.E. Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah reads:

“These terrorist attacks against humanity indicate that the terrorists do not know any boundary, religion and nation. They always try to cause tragedy, fear and horror among the nations.”

Mr. Chairman,

Such terrorist attacks once again remind us of the need for sustained and collective actions at all levels in fighting terrorism as well as the need for supporting countries that are in the front line of fighting this menace.

Statement by H.E. Ayoob M. Erfani Ambassador in Austria Permanent Representative to the UN & International Organizations – Vienna at the UNODC Working Group on International Cooperation (6th Session)

Vienna, 28.10.2015

Mr. Chairman,

As this is the first time that I take the floor, please allow me to join other distinguished delegations to express my sincere congratulations to you on your election as the chair of this working group meeting. I would also wish to thank the Secretariat for the timely preparation of the documents as well as our distinguished panellists for their excellent presentations over the past two days.

Mr. Chairman,

Despite our collective efforts at a global level to counter transnational organized crime, various forms of crime including the new and emerging ones continue to threaten our societies. As it has long been stated, given the transnational nature of most of the crimes, international cooperation in criminal matters is of utmost importance. In this context, we support the work that has been done over the past few years under this working group.

Gathering and sharing electronic evidence as well as the use of liaison officers and police sharing mechanisms are important topics that have been under discussion in this session of the Working Group.  Let me briefly share a few comments on these topics.

Firstly, as stated by the distinguished panellists yesterday, capacity building for law enforcement and criminal justice agencies in dealing with cybercrime and crimes involving electronic evidence including through specialization of such agencies remains key in strengthening international cooperation in this important area.

Secondly, as highlighted, a lack of channels of communication remains a challenge in the area of law enforcement which hinders or slows down exchange of information among countries. We believe that the introduction of liaison officers and use of channels of communication among law enforcement authorities can facilitate cooperation between countries including in preventing and detecting cross-border offences.

We appreciate the efforts made by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) over the past few years in developing a number of tools to assist Member States in taking action against transnational organized crime, including the knowledge management portal (SHERLOC) as well as in redeveloping existing tools, such as the directory of competent national authorities and the Mutual Legal Assistance Request Writer Tool. In this context, we hope that greater efforts will be made to implement the recommendations made by the previous meetings of the Working Group including on the need to further develop such tools with a view to strengthen communication channels and information sharing between countries.

Mr. Chairman,

Afghanistan continues to suffer as a prime victim of the challenges that terrorism, narcotics, human trafficking, migrant smuggling and other various forms of transnational organized crime pose to our country. As a state party to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, the Government of Afghanistan has been actively involved in cooperation at all bilateral, regional and international levels in countering various forms of organized crime and has recently signed extradition agreements with neighboring and regional countries in accordance with its new Law on Extradition. The Government of Afghanistan has also been in the process of negotiating and concluding a number of other bilateral judicial agreements with neighboring and regional countries.

Thank you.

Statement by H.E. Ayoob M. Erfani Ambassador in Austria Permanent Representative to the UN & International Organizations – Vienna at the UNODC Launch of the Executive Summary of the Opium Survey

Vienna, 14.10.2015

Mr. Yury Fedotov,Executive Director of the UNODC,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset, I would like to thank the UNODC for its invaluable support to our counter narcotics efforts including the production of the Afghanistan Opium Survey which stands as a prime example of technical support provided by the UNODC to Afghanistan. The survey is also a clear indication of increased capacity in Afghanistan’s counter-narcotics institutions in the area of research and data collection. I would also like to thank Germany, Norway, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America for their financial contributions to the production of this survey as well as the rest of our regional and international partners for their continued support to our fight against narcotics in Afghanistan.

As the findings of this year’s survey indicate, there has been considerable decrease in both the cultivation of opium poppy and production of opium in Afghanistan by 19% and 48% respectively. The findings also show an increase in the level of eradication by 40% with less security incidences and casualties.

The survey suggests that caution is needed when interpreting these results due to a possible impact of the improved methodology used to estimate the area under poppy cultivation, however, these positive results can be partly attributed to intensified efforts and improved coordination in particular in the area of eradication.

As in the previous years and more evidently this year, 97% of total opium cultivation in Afghanistan took place in the country’s most insecure provinces in the South, East and West. This is indicative of a clear link between cultivation of opium and insecurity which remains a major challenge of a regional nature for Afghanistan. The anti-government elements and the criminal and terrorist networks across the region continue to benefit from the production and trafficking of opium as a major source for financing their activities. They are also involved in trafficking of precursors into Afghanistan which are key to processing opiates into heroin and morphine.

This year, improved coordination between the Ministry of Counter Narcotics and the Ministries of Defense and Interior has increased security during eradication which was carried out near the areas of military operations in Hilmand and Kandahar provinces. In this context, the Government of Afghanistan is trying to further align the counter narcotics planning with the anti-insurgency military operations.

Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

As a prime victim of narcotics, Afghanistan is committed to doing its part to continue every effort in the fight against narcotics. Our recent efforts under the National Unity Government of Afghanistan include the revision of our national counter narcotics strategy, the amendment of the Counter Narcotics Law, and more importantly, the development of our new National Drug Action Plan (2015-2019).

The new Action plan lays out three interrelated counter narcotics goals which the Government seeks to achieve by 2019:

–          Decreasing the cultivation of opium poppy,

–          Decreasing the production and trafficking of opiates; and

–          Reducing the demand for illicit drugs and increasing the provision of treatment for users.

The Action Plan will be implemented under an integrated and balanced approach which will include both incentives such as alternative development, and deterrents, such as eradication, interdiction, and prosecution. At a national level, successful implementation of the Action Plan requires improved coordination among all national bodies in areas of public health, law enforcement, security, and agriculture and at a regional level it requires regional and international cooperation in areas such as anti-money laundering and asset forfeiture.

On the demand side, our focus will be on prevention and evidence-based treatment initiatives. We are planning to mainstream the drug demand reduction into the two public health packages: Essential Public Health System (EPHS) and Basic Public Health System (BPHS). Furthermore, the Drug Demand Reduction will be academically institutionalized in the Higher Education System in Afghanistan.

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.

I hope that the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem in 2016 will serve as an opportunity to shape our collective efforts in light of the new challenges, trends and realities and that we all will be able to use this opportunity for open and frank discussion about our responsibilities and targets, and on how to meet them based on the principle of shared responsibility.

– END-

 

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!

Statement by H.E. Ayoob M. Erfani Resident Representative and Head of Delegation at the IAEA 59th General Conference

Mr. President,

Director General,

Excellencies,

Let me start by congratulating your Excellency, Ambassador Filippo Formica on your election as President of this year’s General Conference. Also, I wish to thank Ambassador Aliyar Lebbe Abdul Azeez for presiding in such a great manner over last year’s General Conference and I wish him every success in his future endeavors. I thank H.E. Director General Yukiya Amano for his statement and for the Annual Report 2014 and congratulate him on his outstanding leadership. My delegation also commends the strong efforts of the IAEA Secretariat.

The delegation of Afghanistan welcomes Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados and Turkmenistan to the IAEA family. We are confident that the new members will have a mutually beneficial relationship with the organization.

Mr. President,

The annual General Conference provides a fresh opportunity for all of us to learn from the past developments, evaluate our opportunities and address the evolving and protracted challenges we are facing in international peace and nuclear safety and security, which remain vital for the security of our global village.

Afghanistan, a founding member of the IAEA, started to benefit from IAEA’s excellent co-operation as early as 1959, and we continue to do so in our ongoing joint efforts in developing nuclear applications and technology in the country. Therefore, today I will focus on further expansion of nuclear applications in Afghanistan through strengthening the technical cooperation between Afghanistan and the Agency.

As Afghanistan completed the transition and has entered its Decade of Transformation (2015-2024) towards a self-reliant economy, nuclear science and technology will have a crucial role in achieving the National Priority Programs of the Government of National Unity of Afghanistan, during the coming years of transformation. The Country Program Framework (CPF) 2012-2016 has already enabled cooperation between Afghanistan and the Agency in seven key areas, namely:

1) Legislative and regulatory framework; 2) human health; 3) agriculture and food; 4) water resources management; 5) energy planning; 6) nuclear analytical capability; and 7) human capacity building.

These policy issues remain vital in achieving our goals as set out in our national development agenda and NPPs throughout the Decade of Transformation. I can also 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. Afghanistan with the IAEA’s support is about to finalize draft regulations for radiation safety in the areas of 1) waste management and 2) the transport of radioactive materials.

Mr. President,

The Agency’s technical cooperation activities are of great importance for Afghanistan and our entire region, and Afghanistan therefore considers it essential that the resources of the Technical Cooperation Fund be sufficient, assured and predictable. 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.

On our part, we are committed to continuing our efforts to further develop the institutional and regulatory framework required for peaceful nuclear technology applications, through leading role of the AAEHC in the country. Training and capacity building remains a key component of the efforts being made by the AAEHC. The IAEA has provided considerable capacity building opportunities to the AAEHC in the form of fellowships and training courses. However, still a lack of funds indicates the need for further cooperation and support by the IAEA and the international community at large and we hope that donors are able to contribute sufficient funds for these important programmes.

I wish to reemphasize that Afghanistan attaches great importance to the IAEA’s technical cooperation projects under the CPF and remains confident that more effective use of various activities under the CPF will have greater impact. We wish to encourage increased transfer of know-how and additional capacity-building programmes from countries with advanced nuclear and radiological standards, which could also serve as an important step in shifting from mere assistance to strong cooperation.

We highly commend the efforts of the IAEA in assisting developing countries in gaining further access to nuclear science and technologies and we believe this must be a priority for the post-2015 development agenda, especially on the eve of the UN Sustainable Development Summit (25-27 September 2015) and due to the importance of access to energy in poverty reduction and improving health and livelihoods. As Director General Amano has rightfully stated in his statement on Monday, there are obvious links between the activities of the IAEA and the new goals, including human health, water management, food security, nutrition, protection of the environment, and energy. We cannot overemphasize the importance of technology and science for our development, welfare and progress.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan welcomes the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreed between the IR of Iran and EU3+3 in Vienna on 14 July 2015. We congratulate the IR of Iran, the United States and the other negotiating partners on the historic outcome, which will enhance security and stability in our region and beyond, and we encourage all sides to take every effort for the implementation of this agreement. Safe, secure and peaceful uses of nuclear energy, science and technology will contribute to global peace, security and development.

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.

Afghanistan – a prime victim of international terrorism – strongly supports all efforts towards strengthened global nuclear security. We recognize that the global security framework is constantly changing. The IAEA must have the full support of all member states in order to be able to fulfill its mandate.

Mr. President,

I wish to conclude by reiterating the importance of continued cooperation between Afghanistan and the IAEA and its member states in the future and we are grateful for all the assistance we have received thus far.

Thank you, Mr. President