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H.E. Ambassador Ayoob Erfani welcomed the Joint Plan of Action (JPA) by the IR of Iran and the 5+1 group

Vienna, 24.01.2014   H.E. Ambassador Ayoob Erfani addressed the IAEA Board of Governors Special Session on Monitoring and Verification in the Islamic Republic of Iran in relation to the Joint Plan of Action Monitoring Irans Nuclear Program. Ambassador Erfani praised the  progress on the ongoing implementation of the Joint Plan of Action agreed on November 24th, 2013. He stated that “We congratulate the Islamic Republic of Iran on the ongoing positive and promising development in relation to the cooperation between the IAEA and the Islamic Republic of Iran; and we welcome the start of the implementation process of the JPA on January 20, as an initial and practical step of the implementation process of the Geneva Agreement by the Islamic Republic of Iran and the 5+1 group”.

Ambassador Erfani reiterated  Afghanistan’s  position on the peaceful and diplomatic solution of Iran’s nuclear programme and expressed his hope that the implementation of the JPA could mark a practical step to restore the international community’s confidence on the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program, that could lead to a comprehensive, lasting and peaceful solution of Iran’s nuclear issue.

He added that “Afghanistan reaffirms its position on the inalienable right of all states to access and use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, and reiterates its position on the establishment of a nuclear-weapons-free-zone (NWFZ) in the Middle East,  as a positive step towards our continued call on the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction in the region as well as attaining the objective of global nuclear disarmament”.

Ambassador Ayoob Erfani discusses gender issues at the OSCE

Vienna, 08.10.2013    Today, H.E. Ayoob Erfani had two meetings at the OSCE: He first met Her Excellency Ambassador Miroslava Beham, OSCE’s Senior Advisor on Gender Issues — a very productive meeting, which was followed by another fruitful encounter, with Mr. John Crownover of the Bosnia and Herzegovina branch of CARE International.

In his meeting with Ambassador Beham and her team, Mr. Ambassador Erfani discussed the vital role of the women of Afghanistan in the country’s struggle for peace, freedom and democracy, given the fact that more than 50% of the population of Afghanistan are women and that their full engagement is indispensable in order to secure the country’s future. Both agreed that the role of the OSCE in empowerment of women in Afghanistan should be further enhanced and that respective projects and programmes should be put on top of the agenda in the co-operation between Afghanistan and the OSCE, with a view to enabling the women of Afghanistan to play comprehensively active roles in all spheres of society, including politics, economy, health, culture and education.

Afghanistan, with the assistance of the international community, has achieved great progress over the past twelve years, in many areas, including gender issues. Ambassador Erfani also mentioned that women run for the post of President and Vice-President in next year’s elections. Nonetheless, remaining challenges need to be and will be addressed, in order to fully meet Afghanistan’s constitutional but also international obligations. The Government of Afghanistan remains committed to safeguard total equality of women and men in the country.

In the meeting with Mr. Crownover of CARE, Mr. Ambassador Erfani again stressed the imperative of gender equality and future ways and means of fully achieving this noble goal were discussed. At the heart of accomplishing this goal lies the gender education of Afghanistan’s kids and students.

Ambassador Ayoob Erfani meets the Ambassadors of the five Central Asian OSCE participating States to discuss the outcome document on Afghanistan of the upcoming OSCE Ministerial Council (Kyiv/Ukraine, December 5-6, 2013)

Vienna, 07.10.13     Today, Ambassador Erfani met the Ambassadors of the  five Central Asian OSCE participating States — Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan —   to discuss the Kyiv OSCE Ministerial Council’s outcome document on Afghanistan.

At the meeting, proposed by the Tajik Ambassador, Ambassador Erfani briefed his colleagues on Afghanistan’s expectations of the outcome document to be adopted in Kyiv. Ambassador Erfani stated that Afghanistan gives great importance to its relationship with the OSCE and that the “backbone of Afghanistan’s foreign policy is and will remain a commitment to good relations with our partners in the region”.  The Ambassador added that Afghanistan is proud of its achievements over the past 12 years and remains grateful for the support from the OSCE and its neighbors, especially as part of the Confidence-Building Measures of the ‘Heart of Asia’ process. He noted “Our goal for the OSCE is for the organization to play a more proactive role in strengthening regional co-operation, which will be even more relevant during the Decade of Transformation. Our expectation of this political declaration is for it to be a supportive document, which will contribute to a stable region and help to address Afghanistan’s challenges, which also remain challenges to the region”.

Ambassador Erfani stressed that strengthening the relationship with Afghanistan’s neighbors remains a priority of Afghan foreign policy. In addition, Afghanistan maintains its commitment to discuss all relevant issues with its neighbors, including close co-operation on outcome documents. These views were supported by the other Ambassadors who expressed the need for further co-operation and communication on a bilateral level. Ambassador Erfani raised the necessity for a ‘Friends of Afghanistan’ working group to discuss and develop methods to deal with different issues. He briefed his fellow Ambassadors on the importance of such groups within the OSCE, which would be a cohesive platform for further co-operation in the Decade of Transformation. In conclusion, Ambassador Erfani thanked the Ambassadors and stated his appreciation for the important political support which Afghanistan receives from the region.

www.osce.org                                                                                                                                                      -END-

Ambassador Ayoob Erfani met Dr. Ernst Vitek, Director of Botany at Vienna’s Museum of Natural History

Vienna, 23.09.2013

H.E. Ayoob M. Erfani today visited Vienna’s Museum of Natural History (NHM) where he met Dr. Ernst Vitek, Director of Botany, who showed the Ambassador around the museum, in the spirit of the museum’s fine tradition of strong external cooperation. The Museum regularly conducts external collecting expeditions, hence its Department of Botany holds specimen from all over the world, with its herbarium possessing numerous historically important collections.

Remarkably, it also holds the world’s largest collection of Afghan plant materials. Dr. Vitek explained his work in the library of the museum, where countless boxes can be found, each containing a dried and preserved plant, which has been identified and labelled, including information about its locality. In the 1960s, a botanist established a herbarium for Kabul University and another one for NHM. Ever since, Asia has ranked among NHM’s geographical focuses: The Orient, The Caucasus and the region of Flora Iranica. Mr. Ambassador Erfani emphasized the importance of enabling Kabul University with access to that database so that both academics and students can utilize it, with a view to adding new information as they continue to study the ecology of the country. There are about 20,000 plants of the Kabul University Herbarium, with a total of 70,000 plants from around the globe – all available online with images, presenting a great potential resource for the Agriculture Faculty, the Botany Faculty and other related faculties. Dr. Vitek generously indicated the Museum’s readiness to assist with instructions, by stating that he and his team would either be willing to travel to Kabul University to run a workshop on how to use the database, or else host a team from Kabul in Vienna to become conversant with the system.
Mr. Ambassador Erfani thanked Dr. Vitek for his time and both pledged to remain in close contact.
Link: www.nhm-wien.ac.at
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Ambassador Ayoob Erfani addresses IAEA General Conference

H.E. Ambassador Ayoob Erfani, Permanent Rep to the UN and Resident Representative of Afghanistan to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is heading the delegation of Afghanistan to the IAEA’s 57th annual regular session of the General Conference, held in Vienna from 16 to 20 September, 2013.

In his address, Mr. Ambassador Erfani stressed the importance of the IAEA General Conference as both key international forum to reflect on today’s challenges, and venue for dialogue on secure and peaceful uses of nuclear applications and technologies, and he added that “Afghanistan, on the basis of its policy of multilateralism through strong regional and international cooperation, is ready to do its part for the success of the IAEA mandate”. Furthermore, Mr. Ambassador outlined future priorities of the Government of Afghanistan in its cooperation with the Agency, ranging from technical cooperation, in particular in the area of human health, capacity-building, and nuclear and isotopic applications in the fields of agriculture and water resource management.

Also, Mr. Ambassador emphasized that Afghanistan will remain a strong advocate of strengthened nuclear safety regimes: “Potential trans-boundary impacts of nuclear accidents remind us of the universal nature of the issue of nuclear safety.” At the same time, Afghanistan recognizes the danger of nuclear or similar radioactive materials being used in terrorist attacks and therefore supports all measures geared at reinforced global nuclear security. Ambassador Erfani also noted that robust safeguards and verification mechanisms are a prerequisite for nuclear disarmament and invites all concerned IAEA Member States to “take further steps towards nuclear disarmament”, while pledging Afghanistan’s continued commitment towards regional and international cooperation. In closing, Mr. Ambassador Erfani extended his appreciation to all those IAEA Member States which have generously contributed to the technical cooperation fund, thereby enabling implementation of vital projects in Afghanistan.

Links:
www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/2013/gc57convenes.html
www.afghanistan-vienna.org                                                                                        -END-

Ambassador of Afghanistan H.E. Ayoob Erfani re-emphasizes his country´s continued commitment to strongly cooperate with the OSCE for the stability and prosperity of the region

Press Release

Vienna, 11 September 2013: H.E. Jean Asselborn, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Luxembourg briefed the OSCE’s Forum for Security Co-operation (FSC) at the opening session of Luxembourg’s chairmanship of the FSC about the agenda for the upcoming three months, among them the holding of two security dialogue sessions where the transition and the post-2014 situation in Afghanistan will be high on the agenda.

Mr. Asselborn emphasized the importance of Afghanistan in OSCE´s engagement for the security and stability in the region.

H.E. Ambassador Ayoob Erfani thanked Mr. Jean Asselborn for his encouraging commitment to keep Afghanistan prominently on the FSC working agenda during the upcoming months and stated:

“Afghanistan is committed to the goals of the OSCE and will make every effort for a safe, stable and prosperous region”

He added that “The regional cooperation has become a central element of the foreign policy of Afghanistan, which remains crucial for our success during the Transition to be followed by the decade of Transformation (2015-2024). H.E. Ambassador Erfani praised “the ongoing engagements of the OSCE to address the common challenges and improve the stability of our region”, and stated that “Afghanistan is committed to do its part  for the stability and prosperity of the region in strong cooperation with the OSCE.”

Presentation by H.E. Ambassador Ayoob Erfani To the annual session of field experts from UNODC’s Terrorism Prevention Branch

Dear colleagues, dear participant ladies and gentleman, good morning.

It is a pleasure for me to participate in today’s annual session of field experts from UNOD’s terrorism prevention branch, to share with you our experiences from Afghanistan in dealing with counter-terrorism and the lessons we have drawn from this. Today, I will share with you the experiences drawn from Afghanistan, which is the prime victim of and an active partner against international terrorism as a global challenge. I will also talk about our successes, achievements, ongoing progress, remaining challenges and I will be happy to have an interactive discussion with you on this subject.

To begin with, I would like to express my gratitude to UNODC for the assistance it has given Afghanistan, and I appreciate the continued efforts and partnership of UNODC with Afghanistan in this field.

Terrorism and extremism did not exist in Afghanistan two decades ago, however during the period of war and inner turmoil in the country, terrorist organizations and radical elements moved to the country and Afghanistan, which was once a stable and peaceful nation, became a prime target and victim of terrorism, which had detrimental consequences for the country’s political and security institutions, society and economy.

Each and every day, Afghan men, women and children wake up with the fear that another brutal act of terror will occur, killing or maiming another family member or fellow citizen. Through suicide and roadside bombings, attacks on our clinics and schools, markets places and mosques, terror and violence continue to deprive the Afghan people from their rights for a peaceful life.

Dear participants ,

Since the fall of the Taliban in 2001 Afghanistan has come a long way, from being a lawless country, an epicenter of international terrorism and a source of regional instability. Afghanistan has begun re-building its national institutions, has established the foundations of democratic society and moved to a market economy, and has adopted a constitution that protects the rights of all its citizens, especially those of women and children.

These achievements were made through the unprecedented commitment of the international community, with the central coordinating role of the United Nations. Yet, many challenges remain – the greatest being to fight terrorism and to establish lasting peace across the whole country, and to free Afghans from decades of violence and conflict.

Afghanistan is firmly committed to defeating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and has, in this regard, spared no effort at the national, regional and international levels. Over the past 12 years since the fall of Taliban, together with our international partners, we have significantly weakened the overall capabilities of terrorist networks. As a result of our counter-terrorism efforts, a considerable number of terrorists have been curtailed in their brutal efforts, and captured, while others are being pursued.  Our state institutions have thwarted a significant number of terrorist plots across the country. Consistent with the process of Transition, the Afghan national army and police today are assuming the primary role in all security activities across 90% of Afghanistan, including counter-terrorism operations.

Our counter-terrorism policies are a key part of our national security strategy. To that effect, we have further strengthened our counter-terrorism legal framework. Afghanistan is party to all international conventions, protocols and instruments concerning terrorism, and we have adopted a multitude of national laws to combat terrorism and other forms of organized crime.  These include the Law on Combating the Financing of Terrorism; the Law on Combating Terrorist Offences; and the Law on Combating Money Laundering.

Afghanistan continues close collaboration with a wide range of relevant actors, comprising the counter-terrorism implementation task force. We encourage States which are using terrorism as a foreign policy instrument to desist from doing so and join the international community to fight this challenge. We would like the UNODC to further enhance its efforts in addressing terrorism.

We are working closely with the three counter-terrorism committees of the Security Council: the 1373, Committee’ the 1267 Committee and the 1540 Committee. In this regard, we have submitted relevant national reports on implementation, the most recent of which was our 2nd report to the 1540 Committee.

At the regional level, we are intensifying cooperation and dialogue with regional partners through bilateral, trilateral and multilateral regional processes to effectively deal with the problems of terrorism and extremism in all its forms and manifestations.  Most recently, during the “Heart of Asia Ministerial Conference in Almaty” Afghanistan and its regional partners reaffirmed their commitment to ensure peace and prosperity in Afghanistan and our region by implementing a broad set of confidence-building measures (CBM’s), which include counter-terrorism cooperation

A successful counter-terrorism strategy needs a comprehensive approach, including economic, security and political aspects. Such an approach requires sincere cooperation among all States, in particular in the region surrounding Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is now in an absolutely crucial phase. The process of transitioning security responsibilities to Afghan National Security Forces is reaching its final stages. As I speak, the security for over 90 percent of the Afghan population is led by Afghan Security Forces.  Afghanistan’s national security forces amount to 350,000 soldiers, and they will do their best to defend Afghanistan against any internal and external threats. From our perspective, transition is the beginning of a new era of equitable partnership between a sovereign Afghanistan and its partners in the international community during the decade of transformation and beyond.

Alongside this security transition, the peace and reconciliation process is a national priority, based on the conviction that dialogue is the most practical means for ending the conflict that plagues our country. The government of Afghanistan is strongly committed to an Afghan led and Afghan owned peace process. This includes all Afghans who are ready to renounce violence, denounce terrorism, accept the constitution, and respect human rights, especially those of women and children. “Without the active participation of Afghan women, which constitute more than 50% of Afghanistan’s population, there will not be a stable, just and prosperous Afghanistan”.

The upcoming 2014 presidential elections will be a milestone in Afghanistan’s democratization process, and the government is doing its upmost to guarantee a free and fair election, and ensure a successful transition to a decade of transformation, which is against the will of terrorist elements in our region.

Dear Participants,

We all must keep in our minds that Afghanistan as a traditional moderate society, that strongly stands against all forms of terrorism and extremism, urgently needs a peaceful life and the international community must remain committed in their support for a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. Terrorist networks and ideological centers are not present in Afghan towns and villages, they operate primarily from their centers and sanctuaries based outside Afghanistan.

As a country that has been at the forefront in the fight against terrorism, Afghanistan has suffered immensely in terms of human and material loss. A significantly high number of Afghans, including civilians, tribal and religious figures, law-enforcement personnel and government officials have lost their lives as a result of terrorism.   Nevertheless, such attacks will not deter our commitment to achieving lasting peace and security.  We are firmly committed to making sure that the sacrifices made along the way will not go in vain. We, in Afghanistan, will remain as resolute as ever in our partnership with the international community to fight against terrorism, and secure a better life for our future generation.

Thank you!

Ambassador Ayoob M. Erfani chairs Vienna+20 side event organized by ACUNS on Harmful Traditional Practices and Accusations of Witchcraft

Two days before the Vienna+20 high-level expert conference, which will take place on June 27 and 28 at the Hofburg, with the participation of a large number of international experts, NGO representatives and diplomats, H.E. Ambassador Erfani chaired a side event, organized by the Vienna Liaison Office of the Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS) at the Vienna International Centre, in the framework of the Vienna+20 Conference, which celebrates the 20th anniversary of the 1993 Vienna Conference on Human Rights. Speakers in the side event included Ms. Farida Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur in the Field of Cultural Rights, and Ms. Katharina Thon, former collaborator, SRSG-Violence against Children.

In his statement, H.E. Ambassador Erfani explained that violence against women is a global challenge with extensive negative and lasting consequences for societies around the world. He  stated  that  “Harmful   Traditional  Practices  (HTPs)  are  serious  crimes  against  the fundemental rights of citizens, particularly in traditional, underdeveloped and post-conflict societies with extreme poverty and lack of rule of law, where women and children remain the main targets of these gruesome actions”.

Concerning this  problem  in  Afghanistan,  H.E.  clarified  “The  issue  of harmful  traditional practices,  unfortunately became the legacy of two decades of conflict, in some parts of country, coupled with a number of unacceptable and imposed century-old traditions, where dark-minded elements, along with  regional and international extremists and other fanatic goups … imposed their harmful practices against  our citizens, in particular women and children.”

With regards to currents developments in Afghanistan, Mr. Ambassador conveyed that, “although the women of Afghanistan still have to face many challenges, they have come a long  way  and  are now actively  participating  in  all  spheres  of the  increasingly  inclusive Afghan society, and gender equality is guaranteed by Afghanistan’s constitution”

Ambassador Erfani stated that, “the HTPs are an impediment to any country’s development and must be  publicly condemned and eliminated from the cultural fabric through every possible ways and means,  including through  realization of women’s cultural, economic, social and political rights and their empowerment … and the government of Afghanistan is commited to fight any  practices that undermine the human dignity of women and infringe upon their human rights”

The Ambassador also referred to the “Empowerment of women as proactive members of Afghan society – as parliamentarians, peace-builders, government officials, and as the most vibrant members of civil society”  as one of the proudest achievements of Afghanistan for the last 12 years -END-

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