Statement by H.E. Ambassador Erfani in response to the presentation by Ambassador Natalia Zarudna of the OSCE Centre in Astana, at the 1004th Permanent Council Meeting of the OSCE
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to join the previous speakers to warmly welcome Ambassador Natalia Zarudna, Head of OSCE Centre in Astana back to the Permanent Council and thank her for the informative annual report.
We highly value the OSCE’s efforts in Kazakhstan, and believe that Ambassador Zarudna’s continued efforts will have long-lasting, positive effects for the region. Therefore, on behalf of Afghanistan, I would like to extend our gratitude to the Ambassador Zaradna and her team in Astana.
We would like to applaud the OSCE’s efforts in Astana regarding the organization of training workshops on explosive hazards, which included experts from Afghanistan. Thanks to the training and technical support by our partners, including the OSCE, there is a clear downward trend in IED explosives in the country, however, still hundreds of civilians, and military personnel become victims each year to improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Any assistance from the OSCE to fight IEDs will be appreciated. We believe that the OSCE has the capacity to do more in assisting Afghanistanto tackle the remaining issues and challenges and further contribute to stabilityand sustainable development in the country.
I was delighted Mr. Chairman, to hear about the successful round of the Annual Central Asian Youth Network Seminar in Astana. Central Asia is so deeply connected, not only geographically but also economically and culturally, that a seminar for our future leaders discussing transnational threats and organized crimes, also related to Afghanistan, is highly important to the future of this region.
On this note I would also like to commend Ambassador Zarudna about the OSCE’s involvement to promote synergy in environmental activities with regional implications. I would like to reiterate that the involvement of the next generation of leaders, including Afghanistan where 75% of its population is under the age of 25, is essential to the stability and advancement of the region, and thus we thank the Centre for organizing the nine-day training seminar for the Central Asian Leadership Program.
Therefore we thank the OSCE Office in Astana and the FSC Support Section for assisting us in these matters.
Afghanistan considers Kazakhstan to be one of its closest partners in the region and enjoys an excellent relationship with Kazakhstan.
In recent years, the friendship between Afghanistan and Kazakhstan has only grown deeper in being an ally and supporter in the ongoing stabilization and democratization process in the country. Presently over 2,000 Afghan citizens are residing in Kazakhstan and 600 of our brightest students are studying in higher education institutes in Kazakhstan.
The numerous meetings between the Presidents of two countries;the exchange of high level delegations between Astana and Kabul; the establishment and expansion of the Joint Commission on Economic and Trade Co-operation, which has led us to sign an agreement encouraging and supporting investments between our countries, are examples of our expanding friendly and familiar relationship.
Kazakhstan, as good friend, has supported Afghanistanthrough a number of bilateral and regional mechanismsand has actively joined our partners in the International community to assist Afghanistan, in the development and stabilizationprocess since 2001. The people of Afghanistan are grateful to the people and Government of Kazakhstan, as they continue to support Afghanistan in a wide range of areas, including education, commerce, industry, regional infrastructure, development, disaster management and fighting illicit drugs. Kazakhstan has supported Afghanistan in its continued regional integration and confidence building efforts, in particular the Istanbul Process (Heart of Asia). At this point, I would also like to highlight the support we have received from Kazakhstan in our bid to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
We feel extremely happy to witness the further growth, progress and developments in Kazakhstan in all dimensions and wish for the continued prosperity and success of our friendly country of Kazakhstan.
In conclusion, let me thank you Ambassador Zarudna personally for all the good work you have accomplished and wish you and your team continued success in Astana.