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REMARKS BY H.E. AMBASSADOR AYOOB ERFANI IN RESPONSE TO THE REPORT BY THE HEAD OF THE OSCE OFFICE IN TAJIKISTAN, MR. MARKUS MÜLLER OSCE MEETING OF THE PERMANENT COUNCIL

Thank you, Chair for giving me the floor.

I also warmly welcome Markus Müller back to the Permanent Council and I thank him for his comprehensive report. Having spent a part of his professional career in Afghanistan, he knows very well about the current needs, opportunities and challenges in the country and in our region.

As one of the largest OSCE field operations, the Office is tasked with a broad range of activities. Afghanistan highly appreciates the work of the Office, supporting initiatives that address specific issues, including capacity-building programmes. Ongoing co-operation and possible future collaboration covers such diverse areas as border management; police reform; de-mining; counter-terrorism; de-radicalization; fight against corruption; water management and energy security; improvement of Afghanistan’s investment climate and promotion of free trade; human rights and empowerment of women; rule of law; and election reform. Regional co-operation is a main pillar of Afghanistan’s foreign policy and the Office in Tajikistan plays a key role in our collaboration with the OSCE.

In particular, we appreciate the Office’s work through the Border Management Staff College (BMSC) in strengthening our and our neighbor’s border agencies’ capacity. We commend the successful conclusion of the second phase of the patrol programming and leadership project (PPL), where almost 500 Tajik and Afghan border officers received training over a two year period, and we look forward to the implementation of the third and final phase of the PPL to include instructors from Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Due to the extra-budgetary nature of the project, while acknowledging funding cutbacks due to OSCE’s engagement in Ukraine, we would like to encourage all participating and partner States to contribute and support the project. As Markus Müller mentioned, this project has been made a priority of the work of the Office in 2016.

Since June 2014, four women from Afghanistan attended courses at the BMSC and it is our hope that this number can be increased in the coming years.

As far as the security situation in northern Afghanistan is concerned, as mentioned in the report and raised by some delegations this morning, I wish to point out that the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) are successfully conducting operations against the Taliban and other anti-governmental groups, which are supported by regional and international terrorist groups. Our forces have proved their capability to control the situation. Afghanistan enjoys excellent brotherly relationships with all its northern neighbors, the OSCE participating States of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan and we are working closely together to address all mutual concerns. Also, the Government of Afghanistan is in close contact with relevant security mechanisms such as NATO and CSTO to develop strategies in response to current security matters, including the emergence of terrorist activities. Let me seize this opportunity to express our hope that the four Tajik border guards abducted by Taliban terrorists in December last year can be freed soon.

Another essential area of co-operation between the Office and Afghanistan is demining. We appreciate the fact that Afghan participants were included in regional co-operation activities in the area of mine action and we are grateful that due to this collaboration almost 120,000 m² of mined areas along the Afghan-Tajik border were cleared.

Afghanistan was also invited to send experts to a peer review process concerning UNSCR 1540, organized by the Office in Tajikistan, the Centre in Bishkek, the FSC support unit and UNODA in Bishkek.

We look forward to the conference on the security situation in Afghanistan, to be hosted by the BMSC this month.

Afghanistan also appreciates the Office’s support toward establishment of a Free Economic Zone (FEZ) located along the Tajik-Afghan border, as well as consultations to trade participants and the work of the Cross Border Market Resource Centres, in particular toward anti- corruption.

In conclusion, let me once again thank Markus Müller for his and his team’s excellent work, also in terms of reminding participating States of the need for sustained engagement in Afghanistan and our region, and for his comprehensive report.

Thank you

 

 

H.E. Ambassador Erfani invited to present Afghanistan’s prospects for the Decade of Transformation at the Albertina Rotary Club

 

 

 

 

Vienna, 06.05.2015

Today Ambassador Erfani was invited by the Albertina Rotary Club, an international service group, to give a presentation on Afghanistan. Speaking to a big number of Vienna based members the Ambassador expressed his appreciation for having the opportunity to talk at the occasion. He provided a brief background picture on the peaceful and also the wartime history of Afghanistan, and then focused on Afghanistan’s transition since 2002 and Afghanistan’s vision for a democratic future through the new Decade of Transformation (2015-2024).
Highlighting the improvements made since 2002, the Ambassador spoke of the areas in which progress has been made in the country, including in the areas of education, women’s participation, civil society, media, communication, institutions, security, foreign policy, infrastructure, and legislations. He pointed to these improvements as important signs of success for Afghanistan’s ongoing Decade of Transformation. The Ambassador further emphasized Afghanistan’s commitment, as well as that of its international partners, to consolidate on the current progress in response to the remaining and emerging challenges for a stable and prospering Afghanistan.
The Ambassador also engaged with the participants in an open discussion and responded to questions raised. He briefed the participants about the short, medium and long term economic visions of the National Unity Government of Afghanistan to reclaim the historic geographic role of Afghanistan, as a connecting bridge between Central Asia, South Asia and the Middle East, to enhancing trade, transit and investment opportunities. He called on the Rotary Club to continue their good work: “I can assure you that there are plenty of opportunities in the emerging market and economy of Afghanistan. At the same time, we still need the support of our international partners to build our capacities and implement our national priority programs (NPPs).”
Responding to a question from the audience about possible seizure of power of Daesh (“Islamic State”) terrorist group in Afghanistan, Ambassador Erfani acknowledged that the ongoing one year has been a difficult year for Afghanistan: “The drawdown of international forces, the completion of security transition to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), Presidential and Provincial Councils elections and the first democratic transfer of power and the country. At the same time, the strong determination of the Afghan people for democracy and freedom through their participation in the last year’s elections, the visions and commitments of the National Unity Government of Afghanistan and the excellent performance of the capable Afghan National Security Forces against terrorists and enemies of the Afghan people, provide a guarantee that there is no chance for terrorist victory in Afghanistan, and we are confident that we will succeed in our goal for a stable and democratic Afghanistan, which is equally important for the regional and international peace and stability.”
Rotary International was formed in 1905 with the service-oriented aim of applying leadership and expertise to social issues to create lasting change. The club is made up of 1.2 million members, all working to improve their communities and the world.

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The Embassy and Permanent Mission of Afghanistan is seeking new interns!

The Embassy and Permanent Mission of Afghanistan is now seeking interns for the late summer of 2015. Tasks and responsibilities of the position include: active participation in a large variety of formal and informal meetings (as required) and consultations at the international organizations of the UN and OSCE, working groups, seminars and conferences, to be followed by debriefing/reporting; monitoring of developments in both Austria and Afghanistan; assistance with the preparation for meetings, visits and conferences/seminars (background information, file preparation/brief, networking); drafting of notes and reports for the Embassy as well as the Afghan Foreign Ministry, Afghan authorities and other relevant actors.

Applicants should be fluent in English, enrolled in a relevant University degree program (international relations, security issues, international economics, law, political sciences, or related subjects) and under 30 years of age. Further desired qualifications included: experience in drafting reports, with emphasis on excellent synthesis capabilities and an eye for practical aspects; previous internship experience with international institutions would be an asset; proven analytical skills, team spirit and flexibility also great assets; other languages are highly valued (Farsi, Pashtu and/or German) ;Microsoft Office and other IT software; high-level of motivation and dedication.

The 3 month internship is full time and unpaid. No benefits, compensation, or guarantee of future employment are associated with this internship. The deadline for applications is June 5, 2015.

Interested students should submit a CV and letter of motivation to embassy@afghanistan-vienna.org

Consulate as well as Embassy and Permanent Mission of Afghanistan in Vienna closed April 28

Please note: the Consulate as well as the Embassy and Permanent Mission of Afghanistan in Vienna will be closed on Tuesday, April 28, 2015.

We will reopen again on Wednesday, April 29, 2015.

H.E. Ambassador Erfani briefs the international community in Vienna on Afghanistan’s counterterrorism achievements

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Vienna, 22.04.2015

Today the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan held a roundtable entitled “Briefing on the Joint Plan of Action 2014 – 2016 for the Implementation of Technical Assistance Activities to Support the Efforts of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in the area of Preventing and Countering Terrorism” at the Vienna International Center, co-organized with the UNODC.  Ambassador Ayoob Erfani sat on the panel alongside Mr. Trevor Michael Rajah, Chief of the Terrorism Prevention Branch, and Ms. Dolgor Solongo, Officer in Charge of Implementation Support Section I. Opening the briefing, the Ambassador gave a talk on counterterrorism efforts and achievements in Afghanistan, as well as essential future steps for the country.

Highlighting the importance of combatting the global challenge of terrorism, Ambassador Erfani praised the international community for its support in Afghanistan. Speaking systemically, he pointed out the progress made on national, regional and international levels. With important legislative and institutional achievements made in Afghanistan, strong regional efforts via the Heart of Asia/Istanbul Process, and accession to all relevant conventions and mechanisms, the country is working hard to improve the safety and security situation for the sake of its citizens.

Pointing to the many challenges ahead, the Ambassador commented on the importance of pursuing a comprehensive, integrated and balanced approach in combatting terrorism by addressing relevant socio-economic factors, including the impact of the narcotics trade on funding terrorist activity and the role which women have to play in this arena. The Ambassador expressed the National Unity Government of Afghanistan’s commitment to addressing all the challenges ahead and the support of the Afghan people for these efforts.

Ambassador Erfani was followed by Mr. Trevor Michael Rajah who commented on the achievements of the Joint Plan of Action and stated UNODC’s commitment to continuing to assist Afghanistan in the fight against terrorism. Concluding the presentations, Ms. Dolgor Solongo presented Ambassador Erfani with completed translations of the Financial Action Task Force Recommendations into Dari and Pashto.

In his concluding remarks, Ambassador Erfani thanked the friends and partners of Afghanistan in the audience, and called on the continued support of the international community going forward.

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H.E. Ambassador Erfani welcomes the Afghan community in Vienna to denounce the kidnapping of 31 Afghans by anti-governmental elements

Vienna, 10.04.2015

Today, H.E. Ambassador Ayoob Erfani met with representatives of the Afghan community in Vienna who had gathered together for a peaceful demonstration, demanding the release of the 31 kidnapped Afghans who were removed from buses travelling through Zabul Province on 22 February. Condemning the act, Ambassador Erfani assured the Afghan community representatives in Austria that the National Unity Government of Afghanistan is committed to protecting the constitutional rights of all citizens of Afghanistan, providing security for the people of Afghanistan and ensuring that their rights are not infringed upon. He reaffirmed Afghanistan’s commitment to all international Instruments and Conventions and their implementation, including the refusal to pay ransoms to terrorist groups.

Emphasizing that this was not an ethnically-motivated act, Ambassador Erfani stated that such criminal acts committed by these anti-governmental groups are only driven by a desire to do harm to the Afghan people as a whole. It is important that all ethnic groups in Afghanistan are strongly united and stand in solidarity against such actions.

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Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Erfani at the United Nations Seminar on Assistance to the Palestinian People: “Speeding up relief, recovery and reconstruction in post-war Gaza”

On behalf of my delegation, it is a pleasure for me to address this seminar. I wish to thank the organizers for arranging this important event, and I join previous speakers in welcoming participants from abroad. Afghanistan as one of the Vice-Chairs of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People appreciates the work and commitment of the committee for serving the cause of a peaceful resolving of the prolonged conflict in the Middle East.

We wish to stress that the situation in Gaza is a core issue and we note with great concern the critical humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. We support the development of Palestinian national institutions and infrastructure through improved security and fresh investments, and call for reconstruction and rehabilitation work to begin. Afghanistan will continue to contribute as one of the Vice-Chairs of the Committee with the active involvement of H.E. Ambassador Dr. Zahir Tanin to carry out its mandate given by the General Assembly toward realization of the two-state solution where Israelis and Palestinians can live side by side in peace and security.

Afghanistan fully supports all international efforts in Gaza, even more so as Afghanistan is confronted with very similar challenges: rebuilding housing; assisting refugees and internally displaced people; reconstructing infrastructure and providing access to basic services; mitigating shortages in fuel, power, food and drinking water; improving the situation of women and children.

Afghanistan thanks all distinguished speakers for sharing with us their valuable insights and expertise. We know that there are a number of obstacles ahead in improving the situation in the Gaza Strip and we ask for redoubled international efforts to alleviate the plight of the Palestinians in Gaza.

The continuing plight of the Palestinian people has been a deep source of distress for Afghanistan and others in the international community. The people of Palestine have suffered immensely, for far too long, and ending this suffering is urgent more than ever in the current difficult regional context and remains critical for lasting peace, stability and prosperity in the whole region. We remain in full support of the realization of the rights of our brothers and sisters in Palestine, including their right to an independent Palestinian State. The time has come for an end to the occupation, and for realizing a just, comprehensive and peaceful solution to the conflict, based on the relevant UN General Assembly and Security Council resolutions, and other efforts including  the Madrid principles including land for peace, the road-map and the agreements previously reached by the parties and the Arab Peace Initiative.

H.E. Ambassador Erfani meets the Chair of the Austrian National Council’s Foreign Affairs Committee

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Vienna, 25.03.2015

Today, Ambassador Ayoob Erfani had a very productive meeting at the Austrian Parliament where he discussed possible expansion of Austro-Afghan relations with the Chair of the National Council’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Dr. Josef Cap. The meeting was scheduled to follow up both the February 2014 meeting between the late Barbara Prammer and the speaker of the Lower House (Wolesi Jirga) of the Parliament of Afghanistan, H.E. Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi, as well as a recent meeting between the speaker of the Austrian National Council, H.E. Doris Bures, and H.E. Ambassador Ayoob Erfani.

In today’s meeting, the Ambassador first expressed his gratitude for the continued and generous support of Austria toward stabilization and development of Afghanistan. He then provided a brief overview about recent developments in the country, before specifying a number of areas of possible cooperation between the two countries. Among those proposals by Mr. Ambassador are the formation of an Austro-Afghan inter-parliamentary group, with a focus on female lawmakers; Austrian education, health and vocational projects in Afghanistan; Possible scholarships for Afghan students in Austria; support for the work of the Austro-Afghan Friendship Society. Ambassador Erfani also thanked Austria for generously hosting Afghan refugees, and pledged the Embassy’s support to help with integration efforts.

Dr. Josef Cap thanked the Ambassador for briefing him about current developments in the country and for his proposals toward expanded co-operation; he also stated that the proposal to establish an Austro-Afghan inter-parliamentary group is currently under consideration in the Austrian Parliament and that all other suggestions and project ideas presented by the Ambassador will also be assessed.

MP Christine Muttonen, currently also serving as Vice-President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, also participated in the meeting and the Ambassador encouraged organizing meetings with a visiting delegation of female Afghan lawmakers, politicians and civil society representatives, expected to attend an OSCE conference in May. “Women constitute more than 50% of our society and without their active participation we will not be able to stabilize and develop our country,” the Ambassador said.

The Austrian parliament is vested with the legislative power of the Republic of Austria and consists of two chambers, the National Council (183 members) and the Federal Council (62 members).

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H.E. Ambassador Erfani addresses a panel discussion on “Investing in Girls’ Education”

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Vienna, 23.03.2015

The Permanent Mission of Afghanistan joined co-sponsors the Women’s Federation for World Peace International and the Global Women’s Peace Network to organize a panel discussion on girls’ education held at the UN Office at Vienna on the morning of 23 March, where panelists gave presentations on the need for girls’ education as the best road to development.

H.E. Ambassador Ayoob Erfani actively participated in the panel discussion, where he expressed the strong commitment to this issue of the National Unity Government of Afghanistan, as well as the interest of the Afghan community in educating young girls. He mentioned that Afghanistan, a country which has a rich history of strong women’s movements, suffered during the times of conflict and war, and that women were the primary victims. However, Afghanistan has started a new journey, supported by the international community, and now witnesses enormous achievements in providing better conditions to the Afghan people, and to women in particular.

Referring to the remaining challenges, Ambassador Erfani said that the Government of Afghanistan is strongly committed to addressing all outstanding issues: “We in Afghanistan believe that there is no guarantee that we will reach our goals for the Decade of Transformation without the active participation of girls, who make up more than 50% of the younger generation. Our women are the best hope for peace, stability and development in our country.”

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The Embassy and Permanent Mission of Afghanistan introduces Nowruz in Vienna as an International Day for the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

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Vienna, 21.03.2015

Following the successful celebration of the International Day of Nowruz at the United Nations Office in Vienna, on Saturday 21 March, the Embassy and Permanent Mission of Afghanistan celebrated Nowruz as one of the main festive seasons of Afghanistan. At the Nowruz reception held in the Embassy and Permanent Mission, representatives from the Afghan community in Austria, as well as officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, joined together to welcome the new year 1394.

The reception was opened by traditional Afghan music, with a performance on the rubab by Mr. Sobeir Bakhtiar and a welcoming speech by H.E. Ambassador Ayoob Erfani, who also paid tribute to the 27-year-old Farkhunda, a woman killed by a mob in Kabul last Thursday. Wishing everyone a very happy Nowruz, Ambassador Erfani went on to elaborate on the current situation in Afghanistan, the important events of the year 1393, and the hopes of the Afghan people for 1394. He then referred to the progress of the National Unity Government of Afghanistan at the beginning of the country’s Decade of Transformation 2015-2024. He thanked the Afghan community in Austria and the host country who had all stood with Afghanistan through the last decade, and he called on all Afghans here to be united and to contribute to the democratization and stabilization process in the country. He also mentioned the history and philosophy of Nowruz as a historic, 3000 year-old tradition, and as the chance for fresh and new momentum to use every opportunity to do more for a better future through understanding and coexistence among each other and with the natural surroundings.

Ambassador Erfani also took the opportunity to express his gratitude to the Austrian government as a host for the Afghan community and refugees, underscoring the importance of strengthening integrations efforts towards incorporating Afghans into Austrian society, and he called on Afghans to observe their obligations and responsibilities to be healthy members of Austrian society.

The Ambassador then opened a buffet of a variety of Afghan foods and sweets.

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