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Joint Statement by Afghan Foreign Minister Rabbani and U.S. Secretary of State Kerry on the Third Meeting of the Afghanistan-U.S. Bilateral Commission

 

On April 9 in Kabul, Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry convened the third meeting of the U.S.-Afghanistan Bilateral Commission to review progress in the bilateral relationship and chart a course for future cooperation.  This meeting, called for by the Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, reaffirmed the commitment of both governments to Afghanistan’s future as a strong, stable, democratic, and self-reliant state.

The Bilateral Commission highlighted the continuation of the U.S. security presence beyond 2016 to carry out two important missions:  training, advising, and assisting the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) in coordination with international partners; and cooperating bilaterally on shared efforts to counter terrorism.

The Bilateral Commission welcomed the U.S. commitment to provide continued financial support to the ANDSF via NATO’s Afghan National Army Trust Fund and the UN Development Program-managed Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan (LOTFA), and to provide significant levels of development assistance during Afghanistan’s Transformation Decade.  The participants looked forward to the NATO Summit in Warsaw in July and the Brussels Ministerial Conference on Afghanistan in October as opportunities to solidify these join with the international community in renewing international security and development assistance pledges, respectively.

The Bilateral Commission reaffirmed the reform objectives in the New Development Partnership (NDP) decided in August 2015 and the joint commitments established in the Self-Reliance through Mutual Accountability Framework (SMAF) launched at the Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) in Kabul in September 2015.  The Commission reiterated the important roles played by civil society including women’s groups in helping to chart a democratic future for Afghanistan and ensuring respect for human rights and the rule of law.

Recognizing Progress in the Strategic Partnership

The Bilateral Commission discussed cooperation in the areas of defense and security; democracy and governance; and economic and social development.  Ahead of the Bilateral Commission meeting, U.S.-Afghan working groups for these three areas met to review progress on the specific objectives set during the March 2015 visit of President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah to Washington and to identify goals for the future.  Minister Rabbani and Secretary Kerry welcomed the following specific accomplishments:

Defense and Security

Secretary Kerry and Minister Rabbani acknowledged the sacrifice and resolve of the ANDSF, U.S., and Coalition forces and called for an end to insecurity and violent attacks that resulted in over 11,000 civilian casualties in Afghanistan in 2015 alone. To weaken and defeat terrorists, while denying them safe haven, both sides reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen the security and stability of Afghanistan.

As part of ongoing efforts to strengthen the Afghan security forces, the United States announced that 14 MD-530 attack helicopters and eight A-29 aircraft have been successfully integrated into the Afghan security forces.  The addition of 14 more MD-530s before August 2016 will further enhance the operational capabilities of the Afghan Air Force.  U.S. and Afghan officials also noted the completion of the semi-annual Program Management Review to validate our long-term security cooperation partnership and to continue efforts to develop an effective, affordable, and sustainable ANDSF.

The Afghan security institutions are building capacity in systems and processes to staff, equip, and sustain an ANDSF that is capable and combat-ready.  The challenges the ANDSF face are complex.  Train, Advise, and Assist efforts continue to be required to develop the necessary capacity to build institutional knowledge and expertise in the areas of budgeting, force generation, personnel management, maintenance, logistics, and procurement.

The U.S. participants commended Afghanistan’s participation in the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT) and its active cooperation in developing a strategic trade control system and associated border controls that help prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Noting that a negotiated political settlement is the best and surest way to bring peace to Afghanistan, Secretary Kerry and Minster Rabbani welcomed the efforts of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) in creating an environment conducive to bringing the Taliban and its affiliates to the negotiation table with the goal of creating a lasting peace in Afghanistan.  Minister Rabbani appreciated the United States’ contribution of $5 million to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) for supporting the Afghan Peace and Reintegration Program (APRP) in 2015, as well as the United States’ commitment to provide further support in 2016 for the implementation of the APRP reforms plan.

The United States welcomed Afghanistan’s membership in the 66-nation Global Coalition to Counter ISIL and Afghanistan’s commitment to counter violent extremism and terrorism in partnership with other like-minded countries around the world.  The ANDSF, working closely with the United States, has already made significant progress against the “Islamic State Khorasan Province” (ISKP), Daesh’s affiliate in Afghanistan.

Democracy and Governance

Secretary Kerry commended the Afghan government’s commitment to combat corruption and promote democracy and good governance in Afghanistan.  Both sides welcomed progress on electoral reforms and noted the importance of ensuring credible, inclusive, and transparent elections.  The Afghan side acknowledged that Parliamentary elections are overdue and should take place as soon as possible once necessary electoral reforms have been implemented.

Minister Rabbani emphasized the importance of institutionalizing and enforcing Afghanistan’s constitutional commitment to human rights, including the equal rights of all citizens, with particular attention to women and minorities, and persons with disabilities. He noted the government is revising the penal code, developing child protection legislation, and taking steps to implement the law onElimination of Violence Against Women.

The participants welcomed the Afghan government’s continued commitment to women’s rights, the signing of the Global Call to Action, and the June unveiling of the National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security, which will implement UNSCR 1325.  The commission also applauded the anti-sexual harassment regulation approved by the Council of Ministers and signed by President Ghani in September, as well as efforts to remove barriers to women’s economic empowerment and participation.

The United States is the largest single contributor of humanitarian aid to Afghans displaced within Afghanistan and across the region, providing nearly $213 million in fiscal years 2015 and 2016 to date.  A key priority for the U.S. and Afghan governments is facilitating the integration of Afghan returnees into development programs.

The participants acknowledged that drug production and trafficking is driven by global demand for narcotics, which transnational organized criminal networks produce in permissive environments like that of Afghanistan, undermining governance, security, and public health throughout the world. Hence, both sides emphasized the importance of increased multilateral cooperation in support of Afghanistan’s efforts to address the global challenge of drug production and trafficking, under the provisions of the UN Security Council Resolutions 1817 (2008) and 2195 (2014).

Both sides highlighted the recently released Afghan National Drug Action Plan, which offers a balanced, comprehensive, coordinated, and sustainable approach to combatting illegal drug production, trade, and use through 2019.

The participants welcomed the ranking of Afghanistan by the World Press Freedom Index 2015 as having the freest media in the region, and noted important progress on the protection of journalists and access to information. In January, President Ghani instructed the Attorney General’s office to re-investigate unsolved cases of murdered journalists and instructed key ministries to develop legislation to better regulate the classification of and access to government information.  The Afghan government also created the Mass Media Commission, to support freedom of speech and rights of journalists.

Economic and Social Development

Secretary Kerry and Minister Rabbani underscored the fundamental importance of economic and social development to future stability and security in Afghanistan.

Since the March 2015 visit of President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah to Washington, the United States and Afghanistan have collaborated on a private sector driven by economic development agenda.  Our New Development Partnership was established to incentivize reforms and provide up to $800 million in funding to the Afghan government via a World Bank-administered trust fund.  The Afghan government achieved key benchmarks and received the $180 million of the total $200 million available in 2015.

The Afghan government demonstrated its commitment to fiscal and financial sector reforms through the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Staff Monitored Program (SMP), which concluded in March, and development of the Public Financial Management Roadmap II and its implementation plan. Afghanistan also demonstrated its commitment to self-reliance by achieving record revenue collections in 2015, facilitated in part by the introduction of electronic payments for customs in Kabul.  These gains can be expanded through additional improvements in tax compliance and an economic expansion.  The commission participants also praised the Afghan government for substantially increasing mobile payments of government salaries.

Technical advisors from the U.S. Department of Treasury are working with Afghan counterparts to improve financial management, combat financial crimes, and strengthen banking supervision.  Treasury completed a consultation on managing government revenue collection with the Afghan Revenue Department in March 2016 that identified key areas for technical assistance.

The U.S. government congratulated Afghanistan on the approval of its application for WTO membership at the Ministerial Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, on December 17, 2015.  The U.S. and Afghan governments stressed the importance of Afghanistan accomplishing its legislative agenda to meet the terms for WTO accession by June 30, 2016.  The U.S. and Afghan governments also reviewed the progress of their bilateral Energy Working Group, established as an outcome of President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah’s 2015 visit to Washington.  This group, which met twice, once in November and once in January, serves as an effective forum for discussion and cooperation on Afghanistan’s energy priorities, including developing domestic energy production and technical capacity, expanding and securing energy infrastructure, and facilitating greater regional energy integration.

The United States also fulfilled its commitment to nearly double the number of Afghan scholars pursuing graduate-level studies in the United States through the Fulbright and Junior Faculty Development exchanges, increasing Afghanistan’s capacity in higher education and key professional sectors.

Charting the Way Forward

Minister Rabbani and Secretary Kerry discussed avenues for future cooperation to continue to build effective and professional Afghan security forces, to make progress in advancing democracy and improving governance   and to build on economic and social development gains.

Defense and Security

Secretary Kerry and Minister Rabbani emphasized the importance of the continued development of Afghan security forces that are able to defend the territorial integrity of Afghanistan, provide security for the Afghan populace and operate consistently with Afghanistan’s international human rights obligations and commitments.  The United States welcomed Afghan commitments to continue combatting gross violations of human rights and to prevent abusive practices.–

To help counter the continuing threat of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), the United States and Afghanistan decided to develop a strategy to build upon existing IED exploitation efforts; consider ways to improve information-sharing related to exploitation of IED components; and conduct an assessment of the current public awareness program and expand it as appropriate.

The planned resumption of the Security Consultative Forum in 2016 with the U.S. Secretary of Defense and Afghan Ministers of Defense and Interior will further these strategic goals and serve as the security component of the Bilateral Commission framework, reaffirming the U.S. and Afghan commitment to a mutually supportive defense relationship.

Democracy and Governance

The commission participants concurred that over the coming months, the United States will support Afghan efforts to advance electoral reforms.  They also concluded that strengthening sub-national governance, combatting corruption, and ensuring effective delivery of services to the population were crucial to peace and stability.

The Afghan government noted that its efforts to improve human rights will include implementation of the Afghan government’s plan to eliminate torture and a commitment to safeguard freedom of the press, including combating violence against journalists.

Rule of law reforms will include a focus on completing and implementing the ongoing penal code revision, as well as continued cooperation to advance gains achieved through counter-narcotics initiatives.

Economic and Social Development

The United States and Afghanistan will continue to focus on policies that support trade and revenue generation, strengthen the Afghan economy, nurture robust private sector development, promote integration in regional markets, and develop domestic energy production, all of which will lessen Afghan reliance on donor assistance.  The two governments noted that the New Development Partnership would continue, and achievement of reform benchmarks could result in additional funding for Afghanistan.  The U.S. side welcomed continuing discussions on Afghanistan’s progress in meeting SMAF goals, establishing a new IMF program, improving its business and investment climate, and fostering conditions for long-term economic growth and fiscal sustainability, including the aggressive scale up of mobile salary payments and further roll-out of e-payments for customs.

The United States and Afghanistan remain committed to the implementation of the CASA-1000 project and other regional energy projects which expand regional cooperation in energy markets and promote economic growth in Afghanistan and in neighboring countries.

Both governments acknowledged the interdependency between economic growth, health, agriculture, and education and plan to collaborate in all these areas.  The two governments reaffirmed their support for increased access to quality education throughout the country at all levels, with an emphasis on quality higher education, technical and vocational training, and continued expansion of educational access, including community-based learning.  They also recognized the importance of Afghanistan preserving its rich cultural heritage, emphasizing that the country’s economic development must include protecting cultural heritage sites of significant national and international historical value.

Secretary Kerry welcomed the recent initiative by the Afghan government to launch a “Jobs for Peace Program,” which intends to provide short- to medium-term employment opportunities for Afghanistan’s youthful population.

Conclusion

Minister Rabbani and Secretary Kerry reaffirmed their resolve to advance the Afghan people’s desire for a stable, secure, and sovereign Afghanistan, governed on the basis of the Afghan Constitution, including respect for human rights, the rule of law, and democratic values. They underscored that cooperation between Afghanistan and the United States continues to be based on mutual respect and shared interests, and affirmed their intent to continue these high-level bilateral consultations to further strengthen our partnership on the basis of the Strategic Partnership Agreement. To that end, they agreed to announce the specific date for convening the Fourth Meeting of the Afghanistan-U.S. Bilateral Commission in Washington-DC as soon as possible, while the three Working Groups should regularly meet throughout the year to ensure consistent cooperation and coordination.

 

END

Welcoming Remarks by H.E. Salahuddin Rabbani Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan at the Opening Session of the Fourth Ministerial Meeting of g7+ 23 March 2016, Kabul

Kabul, 23.03.2016

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بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم

His Excellency President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani,

Excellencies,

Honorable Delegates of the g7plus

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

It is my distinct pleasure to welcome you all to the 4th Ministerial meeting of the g7+ countries here in Kabul. We are delighted to host this important gathering, which is of particular importance to the people and Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and signifies our steadfast commitment to advancing the important goals of our group.

Your presence here under the theme of “from Dili to Kabul and Beyond: Pathways Toward Resilience” expresses a strong sense of solidarity and commitment towards maintaining the momentum which the g7plus envisioned in 2010.

Since its inception, the g7plus has evolved into one of the most important cross-regional fragile state groupings in the realm of international relations and development.  It provides a unique platform for genuine cooperation between fragile States and more broadly, with our international development partners to overcome the many challenges that confront us in the security, social and developmentspheres.

We will have His Excellency President Ghani deliver the keynote address, in which he will outline various aspects of the policies and strategies that we have initiated to achieve our peace-building and State-building goals (PSGs).

I will, therefore, be brief in highlighting the overall context of our state-building efforts.

Excellencies, 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Although the constituting members of g7plus belong to diverse regions from Asia to Africa and from Middle East to Latin America, our experiences in peace building and development are common and so are our challenges. Dealing with these decades of challenges has made us realize the importance of coming together.

It is also pertinent to mention that 18 out of the 20 members of the g7plus group are also Least Developed Countries (LDCs) including Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is a country that has experienced a myriad of challenges ranging from armed conflicts and combating terrorism and extremism, to developing viable institutions, and rehabilitating the social fabric of our society, which was decimated as a result of the decades-long conflict.

Yet, over the past fifteen years – with the generous assistance from international partners – we have made considerable progress in various domains that helped put us on the path to achieve a new Afghanistan.

Despite these gains, we are far from where we want to be.  We fully understand that our security and stability ultimately rests on our ability to make steady and substantial progress on the goals that we, in the g7+ grouping, are collectively seeking to achieve.

That includes improving security and promoting peace; strengthening governance and the rule of law; enhancing capacity and transparency in our institutions for effective service delivery; as well as building our infrastructure and increasing private sector investment to spur economic activity and lift our people out of poverty.

In this context, the Government of Afghanistan is adamantly focused on implementing our reform agenda, which we presented at the international London Conference on Afghanistan in November 2014. As we move forward, we (are) pleased that the international community will continue to stand beside us as a committed partner, in support of our state-building efforts.

To our many international partners represented here today:  we deeply appreciate the important work that you continue to render, in support of our peace and stability.

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

Afghanistan believes that the adoption of the New Deal marked a truly momentous occasion in the development of a more effective result-oriented partnership between fragile and conflict-effected States, with our development partners.

With this initiative, the nature of North-South cooperation has changed for the better, whereby the international community is increasingly channeling greater portions of official development assistance, in accordance with the national development strategies and priorities of fragile states.

Needless to say, challenges remain.  We, therefore, must remain vigilant and increase our collaboration. Let us benefit from each other’s experience, and work to ensure that levels of development aid-delivery are proportionate with the assistance needs of concerned countries.

Equally important, it remains imperative that the donor community channels its assistance in a manner that will also reinforce the principle of national ownership, and strengthen national capacities of state and non-State actors, including civil society and the business community.

Afghanistan welcomes the increased number of feasibility assessments conducted by the members of our group. Conducted at the country level, these assessments feature a concise and detailed analysis of the underlying sources of conflict and stability in fragile settings.

For our part, Afghanistan has been actively engaged in the implementation of the New Deal since 2011,with the Ministry of Finance taking the lead on this important issue.

My esteemed colleague, Finance Minister Hakimi, will present the findings of our New Deal Fragility Assessment, entitled: “Afghanistan’s Pathway Towards Stability and Resilience.”  We are sure that it will be of great interest to you all.

Excellencies, 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Last September in New York, at the Summit Meeting of the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, the international community adopted the post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The integration of the Peace and State-building goals in the 2030 development agenda was a welcoming event that will serve to benefit the g7+ grouping.  Nevertheless, we must (NOT) lose focus on the task at hand.

The onus is on us (to) undertake every effort to increase our coordination and collaboration, and leverage the full range of resources to implement the five peace-building and state-building goals,as a central component of our overall efforts to meeting the MDG’s and SDG’s.

We are convinced that so long as we stand firm in our shared commitment, we will succeed in our“transition from fragility to resiliency,” and transform the slogan of “Goodbye Conflict – Welcome Development”  into reality!

To conclude, let me state that Afghanistan stands fully committed to working closely with all members of our group to advance our common peace and development agenda.   We look forward to adoption of our Strategic Road Map for 2016-2017 at the conclusion of our meeting!

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is now my honor to invite His Excellency the President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Dr. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani to deliver the keynote address.

Thank you!

– E N D –

Transcript of President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani’s Opening Remarks at the G7+ Ministerial Meeting

Kabul, 24.03.2016

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In the name of Allah the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate

Your Excellencies. Minister Marah, my colleague His Excellency Xanana Gusmao, Minister Tadjidinne, Minister Konneh, Special Envoy Pires, friends and colleagues on this remarkable shared adventure.

Welcome to Afghanistan! I am so glad that on this beautiful springtime day you can see firsthand the gap between the media perception of forbidding Afghanistan and the reality of our beautiful and hospitable country.

And welcome to this meeting of the G7+ group of nations.

I would like to personally thank you all for forming this group of like-minded leaders who are committed to reinventing aid.  Never has there been a time when international partnerships are more needed. And never has there been a system more in need of reform.

Let us begin with a statement of the problem. Global stability rests in the hands of states under threat.  Fourteen years ago state-building was not considered to be a crucial issue of world interest. Today the question of how to build stable, successful states is the pre-eminent question of our time. Building states and building peace are now goals shared by the entire world.

The general outline of what will bring success  — national leadership, regional coordination, and building up core country systems — is also now clearly understood and broadly accepted, in large part thanks to the untiring efforts of this group to open up the world’s eyes to the challenge of state-building.

But if these global goals are now agreed, the processes that will lead us to achieving them are still barely identified, much less turned into a specific disciplined, set of programs for action.

In my opening remarks this morning I would like to confront two of the challenges that this G7+ sisterhood of nations must address.

The first issue is the challenge of state fragmentation. The relationship between state weakness and fragmentation by now is so widely accepted as to be practically a commonplace statement rather than an insight into the drivers of fragility.  And yet if we frame overcoming fragility from the perspective of distinguishing between what is desirable from what in practice is credible or feasible given the current terms of aid partnership, it becomes instantly clear that the aid system perpetuates rather than overcomes fragmentation.

Current aid practices make state fragmentation inevitable. And while there have been some reforms over the past decades, the promises made in Paris, Seoul, Accra and elsewhere are not yet backed up by sufficient credible actions. Too many aid practices continue to prevent reformist leaders from negotiating strategy, consolidating their budget, and managing their economy in self-reliant ways.  Too often aid partnerships mean that our ministries become speckled with specially created project units that magically appear and never go away. Our ministries and our civil society groups lose their talent to high-paying consultancies that are then sent to build the capacity that they just drained away. Our budgets become assemblages of donor projects that cannot be restructured or re-positioned to tackle new needs.

Not all aid works this way. When leadership can conceptualize its reforms then the aid community can help facilitate and catalyze the kinds of change that build capacity, which is again a lesson on why our leaders must drive reform rather than wait for it to happen.

But if aid still poses the external constraint, we ourselves must address more credibly the problems within us. How many of our countries remain trapped in the bottom-most rungs of the Transparency International rankings?  We cannot continue to ignore this fact or to blame others for not solving this problem that eats our countries alive from within.

Our grasp of corruption remains weak, trapped in the realm of definitions and denunciations but still lacking the framework that will let us define its contours and domains of action. Our discourse on corruption ends up describing bribe paying and bribe-taking as individual transactions that must be brought to an end rather than as the inevitable result of deep sociopolitical processes that must be understood and addressed from within.

State corruption can be analyzed as a fourfold process of elite capture. In many countries that have experienced war and social conflict, capture begins with the perversion of the security sector. Powerful individuals can use the security sector to make enormous amounts of illicit money. Their use of the public security forces ensures impunity. A first breakdown of trust in government quickly follows. Corruption in the security sector allows the threat of force to stifle the development of the rule of law. Economic policy making also erodes in the face of special interests. A stifled economy is further pressured to grab rents rather than build up productivity, further choking growth.

Government institutions often then become the means to perpetuate corrupt behavior rather than the tool for building development.  Oversight systems themselves become captured or emasculated. Without controls, high-level corruption subverts sectoral institutions and entire ministries can become corruption machines. Further down, corrupt officials could control access to positions, contacts, and payments to contractors and other service providers. Public procurement became the means to reward bribe-payers rather than the mechanism for government to obtain value for money.

Finally, political capture drives political leaders to reward followers rather than promoting the national interest. With capture, government reform efforts are blocked if they bring to an end privileged access, and internal organizational reforms will be subverted by political pressure to appoint followers throughout the system.

If this fourfold process of state capture can be easily described and to some extent measured, the remedies that get brought to bear by the aid system not only provide little help in addressing them, but all too often become part of the problem that we are trying to solve. The solution to fragmented and captured states is never going to be more consultants, anti-corruption plans, or good governance projects. Reform will come when reformist leadership is fully equipped with the tools it needs to rebuild core state systems, above all an ability to recruit like-minded reformers into the system and to have the flexibility to use reform to deliver results.

What do state leaders need? In my remaining time I can only touch upon three core areas that in my experience will define the success or failure of the state-building effort here in Afghanistan.

First, reformist leaders need to be able to control their budgets. None of us can spend money. The symptoms of constipated budget management are pervasive. In almost every developing country the recurrent budget keeps rising while large amounts of the development budget remain unspent. And not spending money well means not implementing policy. We need to make public financial management reform and the repair of the budget process a central focus of attention. Poorly formulated budgets, inflexible budgets fragmented by aid projects and their PMUs, budget management by consultant — these are recurrent symptoms of what the aid agency should be helping us overcome. Instead they perpetuate them. I can only advise my G7 colleagues to take inspiration, as we have done, in the path breaking work done by His Excellency Xanana Guomao and Special Envoy Emilia Pires to take back control of their budget and use it to execute policy.

Second, our countries need to understand that across our countries there is a critical role for the state to build price-setting, resource-allocating markets. The past decade has seen the total failure of neoliberal ideology. After two decades of donors preaching to us about dismantling the state and removing it from all economic functioning, when their own real estate, banking, and automobile industries imploded in 2008, every single one of them turned to state-driven solutions. Clearly we do not want to return to centrally planned and managed economies, but defining the role for smart, efficient state in building markets, defining economic strategies, and providing incentives needs to be re-thought.

Third, if state-building rebuilds the ability of our states to carry out their core functions, peace-building must provide a charter of citizenship rights for both women and men that restores a belief that we are all part of one nation. Peace must consist of a program to build citizenship, both at the symbolic level of creating what the late scholar Benedict Anderson called an “imaginary community” and at a practical level of trust that citizen’s engagements with state agents is on the basis of clear rules and transparent rights and obligations. Development can then become not the trickle down form of compensation that it often is, but a citizen-driven agenda whose outcome is a trusted, credible state that works on behalf of the common good. Here in Afghanistan we will soon be launching a nationwide Citizen’s Charter that will not just provide the development rights guaranteed by our constitution, but be the foundation for a renewed partnership between our citizenry and our state.

We have chosen a formidable task. But it is a task on which global peace, stability and prosperity depend. Yesterday’s tragic events amidst our European brothers and sisters transcend any divide between developed and developing countries and shows that we are all in this boat together.

This conference must produce a vision of hope, possibility, and solidarity. But before I close I would like to express my wish that we G-7+ members think through what we want this G7+ process to be. Reading through the documents this morning I was struck by how many of them sound just like the consultancy reports that each day I get fed by the international agencies.

Aid is seductive. Development is not just a practice. It is a mindset. Aid agencies will leap to insert their language, mentalities, and procedures into our thinking and we will respond like Pavlov’s dogs to the ringing bell of technical assistance. And who wouldn’t since that entire world of fragility assessments, country assessments, fiduciary assessments, performance metrics and so on that we continually need to be feeding the aid community in the name of partnership are so time-consuming and distracting for our people to prepare? And so we gratefully accept the assistance and dutifully produce the reports.

I do not think we should go much further down this path. The G7+ is a way to use our common experience to push back against the hegemony of the aid industry.   Our purpose is to substitute aid practices with the kinds of rules, tools, and partnerships that will help our leaders carry out their national agendas. We should not take in aTrojan horse filled with consultancies, studies, and reports to reproduce some “global consensus” on what the donor agencies need.

Our purpose in this network of shared needs is to articulate an agenda to re-negotiate those rules.  Our guiding principle should be whether we — the national leaders who not only believe in reform but have been entrusted to carry it out — really need all of these expensive, time-consuming studies and reports.

We must use these meetings and our network to propose a wholly new set of flexible, effective partnerships that strip away whole levels of stuffy, time-consuming and in the end largely ineffective procedures that grew up over decades of mentored development.

And we must learn to do this work ourselves. We see every day that our countries are increasingly filled with bright, well-educated young people eager to rebuild their countries. They are our greatest resource. We as leaders must build them the career paths, mentorships, and high level coaching not that they need but which weneed so that we can replace the shadow army of global consultancies with a new generation drawn and developed from within our own knowledge institutions.

State-building, peace-building, and market-building are the critical foundations for successful development. Our citizens, and the citizens of the world, are counting us to bring to pass a new model for prosperity, stability, and a future for their children. This process will be long. We  who are gathered here in Kabul today are taking small sips from a broad river. But our countries have much wisdom within them. May your discussions be fruitful.

– E N D –

پیام تبریکیه سال نو

پیام تبریکی

REMARKS BY THE MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF AFGHANISTAN H.E. SALAHUDDIN RABBANI AT THE 4TH MEETING OF THE QUADRILATERAL COORDINATION GROUP (QCG)

Kabul, 23.02.2016

Honorable Members of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Please allow me to extend a very warm welcome to members of the QCG delegations from Pakistan, China, and the United States to this fourth meeting of the group as we jointly strive to make tangible progress in our collective quest for ensuring sustainable peace in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the wider region.

The realization of lasting peace and security remains the utmost priority of the Afghan people and the Government. We will continue to pursue all available and possible avenues to ensure this noble and rightful demand of our people for a dignified peace that strengthens our constitutional system. We also appreciate the goodwill and support of our neighbors, friends and allies in this endeavor. It is in this context that we continue to attach particular importance to the work of the QCG.

The work of this group is at a critical stage. We have managed to make tangible progress on a framework in our work so far, including the adoption of terms for the group’s work and the Roadmap document as well as the consensus to ensure direct talks between representatives of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and authorized representatives of Taliban groups.

I am confident that our discussions today will build on the progress of our previous meetings in Islamabad and Kabul. Following the consensus reached during the third meeting in Islamabad earlier this month, we would like to see the group outline the details of the expected direct talks between the Government of Afghanistan and Taliban groups before the end of February.

As we have done so in the past, we renew our call on all Taliban groups to join these Afghan-led and Afghan-owned talks so we can find political solutions and put an end to the violence and bloodshed in our country. The most recent such clear and principled call came in recent key statements of H.E. President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and H.E. Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah.

As His Excellency President Ghani said on 15 February, and I quote, “I call on Taliban groups, the Hezb e Islami led by Mr. Hekmatiyar and other opponents to join the caravan of peace. We will welcome and embrace every group opposed to us that is prepared to live with us in peace and brotherhood. Now that the overall framework and Roadmap for peace have been prepared, this is the best opportunity for the opponents to abandon their hostilities and armed opposition against their compatriots. If the goal is political participation, our Constitution bars no ones path. We clearly state to our opponents that we believe in peace as part of our faith and belief.”

The priority that the Afghan government attaches to a political process is based on and derives its legitimacy and support from the overwhelming consensus in Afghanistan  — both inside and outside the government — on a meaningful, serious, results-oriented peace and reconciliation process. The appointment of the chairman of the High Peace Council, H.E. Pir Syed Ahmad Gillani and his deputies will significantly bolster the efforts of the High Peace Council to further strengthen and consolidate this national consensus in Afghanistan on peace with Taliban groups through a political process.

The work of the High Peace Council under its new leadership will be a continuation of our national quest for peace and stability in Afghanistan, including the prominent legacy of the leadership and personal sacrifice of Martyr of Peace, Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani the first Chairman of the High Peace Council. It was he who outlined the vision and program of action for the High Peace Council and laid down the foundations of its work, which I also had the honor of leading for more than three years.  Therefore, there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind — Taliban or otherwise — that the Afghan people and government are serious and sincere in seeking a political resolution to the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan with all its internal and external dimensions.

At the same time, as we continue our sincere efforts for peace on behalf of the people of Afghanistan, we will continue to defend Afghanistan and defeat all those forces bent on turning the clock back in Afghanistan on our historic political, social and developmental achievements. The consensus and unity of our nation on preserving and expanding these gains is beyond any doubt. We will not allow these gains to be threatened in any way. Nor will we relent in our actions to put an end to the violence perpetrated against the men, women and children of this country on an almost daily basis.

The same resolve will continue to apply to those who continue to disregard our sincere and genuine call for peace, and who intend to undermine our efforts to consolidate the hard-earned gains of our people.

We must also acknowledge another fundamental truth: that the menace of terrorism is not a phenomenon limited to Afghanistan; it has its clear regional and international dimensions and linkages, and poses grave threats to people and states well beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan. In this context, we believe that the QCG’s collective and specific actions and measures to advance peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan at the earliest will also help our ongoing common fight against terrorism in the broader region.

We therefore attach great importance to the work of the QCG in support of peace and reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan. Going forward and building on the work we have done so far, we look forward to clear and decisive practical steps to meet our shared commitments outlined in the Roadmap in its letter and spirit, in a timely and consistent manner.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Among other confidence building measures in this process, we need to see a significant reduction of violence against the Afghan government and people as critically important, and a key determinant and test for the work of this importance mechanism and our overall efforts in support of a results-oriented peace process in Afghanistan.  In this regard, and as we commence and continue talks with those Taliban groups who are choosing the path of a political process, it will be a key test of our common resolve and commitment to undertake all necessary measures to squeeze and shrink the space in which violent armed groups opposed to peace and reconciliation are active, including decisive actions aimed at eliminating their access to sanctuaries and support systems.

Those elements of the armed groups who continue to refuse to join the peace talks, and continue the path of violence must realize that our message to them is clear: our brave security forces will not hesitate in their resolve to fight them resolutely, wherever they are, to stop them from committing terror, violence and bloodshed.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The role of Afghanistan and our neighbor Pakistan continues to be central and most critical to the success of our joint efforts. In this context, we also hope that this meeting can reach agreement on early initiatives between Afghan and Pakistani Ulema in support of peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan and against violence and terrorism directed at the people of Afghanistan and the region. Pakistan’s support to the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation efforts are not only critical in this process but also crucial to our sincere and serious endeavors to build greater trust and confidence in all facets of our vital relationship based on mutual respect, shared interests and concerns.

I would also like to take this opportunity to underline the fact that peace in Afghanistan is not just the aspiration and desire of the Afghan people.  Peace in Afghanistan is indeed also crucial and a pre-condition for peace and stability in the region. It is for this reason that we in Afghanistan also call on all our other neighbors and major countries in the wider region to continue extending their understanding and support to these Afghan government-led and owned peace efforts. On our part, we will also continue to take all our regional partners into confidence on peace efforts in order to maintain and further strengthen the existing regional and international consensus and support towards peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are hopeful that the continued and dedicated work of the QCG going forward will set the Roadmap we have adopted into motion towards steady implementation. We have all invested heavily in this process, which has generated renewed hope for a successful outcome to our joint peace efforts. We, therefore, have a unique opportunity before us. So let us do what we must with strong resolve, sincerity and courage to fulfill our commitments and deliver on the promise of achieving lasting peace in Afghanistan.

Thank you, and I wish you all a successful meeting.

– E N D –

Transcript of Remarks Delivered by H.E. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan At the Munich Security Conference 2016

Munich, 12.02.2016

سخنرانی در کنفرانس (9)

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful.

Ambassador Ischinger, Minister Von Der Leyen, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Let me first deal with context. We are confronting the fifth wave of political violence in a symmetric war in 140 years. Anarchism was the first wave; national self-determination was the second wave; New Left in Japan, Europe, and the United States was the third wave; Jihad against the Soviet Union and struggle in Sri Lanka started the fourth wave; the post-9/11 terrorism constitutes the fifth wave. A narrative combining epistemology, history, and teleology matched by utilization of the information technology of the fourth industrial revolution is translated into a distinct ecology, morphology, and pathology of violence. Our knowledge and response are both fragmented as we are struggling between naming the phenomena, knowing it, and having an action plan on the basis of an aligned strategy to disrupt, overcome, and destroy the fifth wave of terrorism. Symptoms are often addressed, causes are rarely confronted. Voices of analysis are not followed and there’s no common framework. Without a common framework on intelligence that drives use of force, we keep repeating mistakes. While the enemy learns fast, we are slow to adapting. From seeking ungoverned space, the aim of the fifth wave is to establish territories of terror.

My second point is on dimensions and drivers of conflict. I am focusing here on Afghanistan as an illustration. Often times the war is described as a civil war, it is not. First, we have a regional and global conflict. Every country in the region has been exporting its misfits to us; China, Russia, the ‘Stans, particularly and Pakistan, and others. Second is Daesh. When we warned against Daesh, particularly in this conference last year, it was greeted as a way that I wanted to attract attention to Afghanistan. Today, I hope nobody is in denial.

Third, Al-Qaeda: Al-Qaeda is not finished. At a time when we have focused on Daesh’s threat, I hope to God I am wrong, Al- Qaeda has regrouped. And, now we need to deal with a renewed Al-Qaeda threat. The Tehrik-e- Taliban of Pakistan, the Haqqani networks, and others are common threats but, what’s the platform? The criminal economy provides the common platform for all these movements. Narcotics and refugees, smuggling are part of the same network. Unless we focus on the soft belly of globalization, which is the $ 1.7 trillion of criminal economy, we will be addressing only part of the problem, not all of it.

There’s the additional problem. State sponsorship of malign non-state actors continues. Worse, some states behave like non-state actors and this is, of course, driven by the failure to agree and act on rules of the game. All of this combines to have a displacement effect. We address the problem in one part, it results in displacement of the phenomena in the other. And what, from an Afghan and regional perspective, particularly needs attention: action in Syria and Iraq against Daesh is likely to displace it geographically and spatially. We need to define the boundaries of this ecology carefully. Otherwise, we will be missing a significant part of the solution.

Ambassador Ischinger described 2016 as bleak. From an Afghan perspective, I’d like to describe it as one of cautious optimism. I think everybody, in a bleak forecast, needs a ray of hope. An aligned strategy requires, simultaneously, preferably coordinated action in five levels: Global, Islamic, Regional, National, and Sub-national. So, why the good news? First, I’d like to express gratitude to President Obama, Chancellor Merkel, Prime Minister Cameron, Prime Minister Renzi, leaders of 40 countries that have agreed to renew the Resolute Support Mission in support of Afghanistan. NATO, ladies and gentlemen, is fully alive and willing to act responsibly. I’d like to extend a very big thank you to NATO, to its Secretary-General, and to the entire organization. Second, regional support: We have worked very actively with China, with Central Asian states—Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, in particular—India, Iran, Russia, and Turkey through bilateral and multilateral mechanisms. We’re in the process of creating an emerging consensus that, a stable of stable Afghanistan that can tackle the actors and drivers of instability, is in everybody’s benefit. This requires continuous work and because of that, bilateral, trilateral, and multilateral mechanisms all need to be supported but key to this is, the country wants this has to take ownership of the process and not just wait that others act on good will.

On the Islamic dimension, the Mecca Declaration against terrorism is a very, very significant development. For the first time, Muslim scholars are confronting the problem, naming it, and simultaneously exposing the fundamental weaknesses of governance. I hope that this declaration is matched with coherent action and coordination. What is fundamental from an Islamic perspective is who claims to speak for the Islamic civilization, culture, and history. Islamic civilization is a grand synthesis. When we measured the circumference of the Earth, the rest of the world didn’t know that the World was round and that was a thousand years ago. We need claim back our heritage and create a vibrant and comprehensive debate among ourselves so we can work.

The other dimension is national. In here, our emphasis is, first of all, to acknowledge our problems. A country that has inherited the mantle of being, the dishonor of being, among the ten most corrupt countries does not have the right to speak for itself unless it addresses its fundamental corruption. A country that has 41% of its people living below poverty must bear the shame. A country that cannot empower its women, youth, and the poor must bear the responsibility for addressing the fundamentals. So, as a result, we need to get the politics right. It is the politics of empowerment; it’s the politics of creating citizens, and turning the state into an instrument for the realization of the rights and obligations of the citizens.

We are working a compact with our citizens and are in the process—a very difficult process, no doubt—of turning the state into an instrument of the realization of the hopes and aspirations of our citizens. Second is mobilizing for security. Security is not about use of force alone. Every problem is not a nail to be hit with a hammer. A multi-dimensional approach where we take governance, and that’s where sub-national issues come to the front, I’m delighted that we have pioneered for the first time in a couple of hundred years a balance between our governors and cabinet and created written compacts with every single province to I can preside of mechanisms of delivery.

But on Daesh, again, we are very grateful and proud that our partners have agreed now to target Daesh like Al-Qaeda. In the last month, we’ve silenced the voice of Daesh to its radio in one of the most remote mountains of Afghanistan, they are on the run. They’ve lost 150 people but what makes us particularly hopeful, 750 retired Afghan Army officers, all commandos, enlisted in a single day to take on Daesh. Their atrocities have brought back a reversal at the level of narrative that now has resulted in significant mobilization in Eastern Afghanistan, and that’s the key. When people mobilize to tackle terror, it’s a very different approach than when guns alone are used. When people ask for simultaneous use of air power with ground mobilization in a will to push them out, that’s the key to success. Equally, because we have been speaking about refugees and the Minister named us, pull and push factors both need to be addressed.

A country with a 41% rate of poverty forced into a significant recession bordering on a depression and networked globally will produce refugees. We must analyze the root causes and create the condition for stability. The current economic recipes of global institutions for fragile states are not working. If Europe does not want refugees, it has to create the conditions for getting commodities and value chains and linkages. Our people don’t want to move but we need to create the opportunities and it must be on the basis of a just society, where foreign assistance is used to create opportunities and not enrich a few. And, this is key to the public. Because of this, the public must be put first because what makes us trust in the future is our resilience. We have coped with earlier waves of violence, our historic resilience gives us the confidence that will overcome the fifth wave. Second is our latent resources. We are an extraordinarily rich country inhabited by extraordinarily poor people. It has to be reversed. And, our partnership—now based on mutual values, accountability, and mutual trust—should provide a platform for an aligned strategy. We invite governments, firms, and global civil society to join us in deploying the tools of great imagination and creativity to overcome the fifth wave of violence.

Thank you.

– E N D –

Source: http://president.gov.af/en/news/transcript-of-remarks-delivered-by-he-mohammad-ashraf-ghani-president-of-the-islamic-republic-of-afghanistan-at-the-munich-security-conference-2016

Statement by Mr. Hassan Soroosh, Chargé d’Affaires, Delegation of Afghanistan, in response to the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, H.E. Araz Azimov at the OSCE Permanent Council Meeting 1089

Vienna, 11.02.2016

Thank you Mr. Chairman,

At the outset, please allow me to join other distinguished delegations in thanking H.E. Deputy Minister Araz Azimov for his comprehensive address which provided a good overview of the efforts and achievements made by Azerbaijan in recent years including in the areas of economic development and regional cooperation.
I wish to seize this opportunity to highlight that we greatly value the excellent relations and co-operation that exist between our two countries. Since 2002, numerous high-level meetings between Afghanistan and Azerbaijan, including at the heads of state level have taken place, which can be exemplified by the recent visit of H.E. President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani to Baku, in December 2015. We also enjoy fruitful inter-parliamentary relations which will hopefully further grow in the future.
Furthermore, troops from Azerbaijan joined ISAF in 2002 and today, Azerbaijan is contributing to the Resolute Support Mission, for which we are grateful.
We appreciate the generous support from Azerbaijan in terms of the provision of education and training opportunities including for our law enforcement officers and medical personnel. We also appreciate investments made by Azerbaijan, in particular in Afghanistan’s infrastructure. There is also good dynamics in terms of our bilateral trade turnover.
We believe that increased economic ties will complement our long-standing political relations. We see a number of important transit opportunities between Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey including the Lapis-Lazuli-Corridor as one of the shortest and cheapest transit routes in the region.
It is our goal to turn Afghanistan into a regional land-bridge and a hub for regional energy cooperation and in doing so we are trying to share the benefits of our centrality, including through RECCA and the Heart of Asia Process, with countries in the region and beyond, with a view towards enhancing trade and development at both regional and continental levels.
In closing, let me state that we are confident that both our bilateral co-operation as well as our collaboration in multilateral settings – including under the OSCE – will be further strengthened.

 – E N D –

Statement by Mr. Hassan Soroosh, Chargé d’Affaires of Afghanistan at a briefing by the INCB President on the 2015 Report

February 03, 2016

Thank you Mr. President,

I would like to join other distinguished delegations in thanking you for convening today’s briefing on the mandate and activities of the INCB as well as on the 2015 Report. We are appreciative of the efforts that are made by the board in the framework of monitoring the international drug control treaties and helping countries with their treaty-based obligations.

I would also like to thank the board for preparing the 2015 report along with the reports on precursors and availability which all together provide a detailed overview of the drug control situation in different parts of the world at a time when we are preparing for the upcoming UNGASS on the World Drug Problem in New York.

Mr. President,

As a prime victim of narcotics and as a country in the front line of the fight against this menace, Afghanistan is committed to continuing its counter narcotics efforts under a holistic and balanced approach and within the newly adopted Afghan National Drug Action Plan (2015-2019). As the findings of the recent Afghanistan Opium Survey, which are also well reflected in the 2015 INCB Report show, there has been a considerable decrease in both cultivation and production of opium as well as an increase in the level of eradication during 2015 in Afghanistan. As noted in the report, there has also been an increase in the counter-narcotics operations in Afghanistan which resulted in considerable law enforcement achievements during this period.

As in the previous years, the findings also show that over 90% of illicit opium poppy cultivation has taken place in the most insecure province in the country which once again suggests that there is a clear link between cultivation of opium and insecurity which remains a major challenge of regional nature for Afghanistan. We therefore believe that addressing the security dimension of the drug problem remains key in the success of counter-narcotics efforts in Afghanistan. Other priorities in our joint counter narcotics efforts should include, among others:

–          Increasing the effectiveness of alternative livelihood programs under the broader sustainable development agenda and in light of the SDGs.

–          Improving operational capacity at both national and regional levels in addressing trafficking in precursors into Afghanistan which remains a major challenge for Afghanistan,

–          Strengthening cooperation and coordination in addressing new trafficking routes and trends,

–          Intensifying efforts to address the financial aspect of drug trafficking at both regional and international levels;

–          And developing a more comprehensive and balanced approach to addressing drug dependency with a particular focus on increasing the treatment capacity, taking into consideration the increasing number of drug users in the country.

Mr. President,

Regional cooperation remains key in addressing the world drug problem. As noted in the report, the Government of Afghanistan has been actively involved in the efforts under various sub-regional and regional counter-narcotics initiatives including the Heart of Asia Process; the Triangular Initiative between Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan; the AKT Initiative between Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan; the UNODC Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighboring Countries as well as the Paris Pact Initiative.

As highlighted in the report, consultation between the Board and the Government of Afghanistan continued in 2015 with a number of high level bilateral meetings including during the CND Session in March last year which provided the opportunity to discuss the achievements,  priorities, new initiatives as well as the challenges facing Afghanistan in countering narcotics. Furthermore, consultation has continued between the board and the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan in Vienna including on the upcoming visit by the Board to Afghanistan which will hopefully take place in the first half of this year.

In conclusion, let me reiterate that while Afghanistan is committed to continuing its counter narcotics efforts at all national, regional and international levels, there is need for continuous international assistance including to the relevant capacity building programs as well as for greater alignment of international assistance behind our needs and priorities as outlined in the new Afghan National Drug Action Plan.

Thank you

DELEGATION OF AFGHANISTAN: Written Contribution – Response to the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany, Dr Frank-Walter Steinmeier

Written Contribution by the Delegation of Afghanistan to the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany, Dr Frank-Walter Steinmeier 

Vienna, 14.01.2016

 

Minister Steinmeier,

Secretary General,

Distinguished delegates,

At the outset, let me express on behalf of the people and Government of Afghanistan our deepest condolences for the victims of the brutal terrorist attack in Istanbul on 12 January. We strongly condemn this terrorist attack and we stand with our friends in Turkey, Germany and those in other countries affected by this heinous crime. Our hearts and thoughts are with the victims and their loved ones and we wish a speedy recovery for those who have been injured.

I am pleased to join other distinguished delegations to warmly welcome you, Minister Steinmeier, back to the Permanent Council and let me congratulate you and your teams both here in Vienna and in Berlin for taking on the OSCE Chairmanship in 2016.

Let me also seize this occasion to thank once again the outgoing Serbian Chairmanship for their excellent leadership during 2015. I also wish to thank Switzerland, as the chair of the Asian Contact Group for their great efforts during last year and I should like to congratulate Serbia for assuming the chairmanship of the Group in 2016.

Allow me also to express our gratitude to Secretary General Lamberto Zannier and his staff for the continued support toward OSCE’s engagement with the Partners for Co-operation including Afghanistan.

Minister Steinmeier,

We thank you for your comprehensive presentation and wish to reassure you of our full support.

Recent terrorist attacks across the OSCE region demonstrate the necessity of the OSCE’s comprehensive and cross-dimensional approach to security. Interlinked phenomena and threats — including terrorism,  illicit narcotics, human trafficking and smuggling of migrants, immense economic and environmental challenges, corruption, shortcomings in the areas of education and health — all call for a systematic cross-dimensional approach as offered by the OSCE.

I wish to highlight that while Afghanistan is grateful for the support provided by the OSCE as well as bilaterally by many of its participating and Partner States, we continue to need your strong backup in order to take our national development agenda forward throughout the Decade of Transformation (2015-2024).

The friendly and long-standing relations between Germany and Afghanistan date back to the beginning of the 20th century. In August this year, you, Minister Steinmeier, marked the 100th anniversary of our friendship in a ceremony with both Their Excellencies the President and the Chief Executive of Afghanistan in Kabul. Since 2002, Germany has been among our largest and closest partners and we are very grateful for the support, sacrifices and for our friendship.

Dear Minister,

As you highlighted, dialogue, trust and security will be the principles that will orient the Chairmanship’s compass in 2016; we fully support this motto and we will do our best to work with you as an active partner.

In closing, let me reiterate that we highly value our excellent partnership with the OSCE. Afghanistan has greatly benefited from the engagement with the organization including from the programmes and projects following two ministerial decisions in 2007 and 2011, respectively. We trust that the engagement with Afghanistan will remain a priority on the OSCE’s agenda in 2016. We look forward to another fruitful year of co-operation with the organization and its participating and Partner States, under the German Chairmanship.

I wish you, Mr. Foreign Minister, and your able teams in Berlin and Vienna every success.

Thank you

– E N D –

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