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Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Ayoob Erfani at the OSCE Security Committee Meeting

Agenda item 1.

Trafficking in Human Beings and its connections with illegal migration and organized crime

Mr. Chairman,

Let me thank you for organizing today’s meeting of the Security Committee and for giving me the floor. Also, I wish to welcome Ambassador Madina Jarbussynova back from Doha and thank her and the other panelists for their comprehensive presentations on this pressing topic.

Mr. Chairman,

Human trafficking and trade of humans for purposes of forced labor, slavery, extraction of organs and sexual exploitation are increasingly linked to the activities of human smugglers and remains serious challenges for all of us.

Afghanistan is in the process of gradually recovering from three decades of war and conflict. As is almost always the case in post-conflict scenarios, Afghanistan still has to deal with huge numbers of refugees and migrants, many of which have fallen prey to the cruel business of traffickers in human beings.  Due to the post-conflict trauma, coupled with the economic situation as well as challenging security condition in some parts of the country, numbers of young Afghans, most of whom have been placed in refugee camps in neighboring countries, falsely trust human smugglers and traffickers who encourage them to choose the path of illegal migration, misleading them by promising them a better future. These most vulnerable groups are at risk of falling into the wrong hands where they will face inconceivable, terrible consequences, and even loss of life.

The newly formed National Unity Government of Afghanistan is committed to addressing all aspects of Trafficking in Human Beings. We have made significant efforts and have taken practical steps on the national, regional and international level to combat human trafficking and related organized crime. In terms of law enforcement, the Law on Countering Abduction and Human Trafficking was passed in 2008. An inter-ministerial committee including representatives from the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and the National Directorate of Security has been established to combat human trafficking. All responsible line ministries, government bodies and the media, led by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, launched a country-wide public information campaign to increase awareness of human trafficking issues. Afghanistan also participates in the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime, and in August 2014, Afghanistan acceded to the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.

In this context, let me commend the efforts of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) for Afghan stakeholders, in particular in the areas of increasing public awareness, protection of victims, and training programmes for law enforcement officers and government officials. IOM started its work in Afghanistan in 1992 and has maintained an uninterrupted presence ever since. In February this year, the head of IOM Afghanistan, Richard Danziger, expressed concerns over the increase of human trafficking from Afghanistan to other countries.

As a Partner for Co-operation of the OSCE, Afghanistan remains committed to closely collaborating with the OSCE in all areas addressing human trafficking and related organized crime. We appreciate all efforts taken by the OSCE to combat this serious humanitarian challenge and tragedy. Taking this opportunity, I wish to state that Afghanistan seeks the continued support of the OSCE and international organizations to undertake analysis and to support the action of our government bodies.

In conclusion, let me state that we recognize that any durable, successful strategy must be regional and international in its scope.

Thank you

Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Ayoob Erfani to the OSCE Security Committee on the Co-operation between OSCE and UNODC in the context of the UNODC Joint Action Plan 2013-2014, as extended for 2015

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for organizing this morning’s meeting. Let me start by offering my heartfelt condolences for the victims of the Copenhagen terrorist attack and my strong solidarity with the people of Denmark. My hearts and thoughts are with the families and loved ones of those we have lost in recent terrorist attacks.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I welcome UNODC Deputy Executive Director Aldo Lale-Demoz and his colleagues to today’s OSCE Security Committee and I thank him and Secretary General Lamberto Zannier for their comprehensive presentations.

Afghanistan highly appreciates co-operation with both UNODC, which has started long before 2001 and, as a partner for co-operation since 2003, with the OSCE.

We welcome the joint initiative of OSCE and UNODC that was formalized in 2010, to co-operate and co-ordinate their activities and mandates, adding value to the work of the two organizations, exploring synergies and making best use of comparative advantages. Afghanistan, as a recipient of assistance from international and regional organizations for the last decade’s stabilization process in the country, realizes the importance of optimized co-ordination, avoiding of duplication of efforts. In this context, I wish to thank the OSCE Secretary General for his personal efforts toward initiation of OSCE co-operation with other relevant regional organizations.

We welcome the extension of the Joint Action Plan for 2015. Afghanistan continuously benefitted from programmes, projects and assistance provided by both organizations, in numerous areas. We pledge our commitment to further consolidate our alliance in addressing transnational threats such as organized crime, terrorism, corruption, as well as illicit narcotics and chemical precursors, while fostering rule of law issues and good governance.

We are ready to actively participate in joint and integrated regional co-operation programmes, a main pillar of Afghanistan’s foreign policy, and would greatly appreciate continued deliverance of practical action and technical assistance, also inside Afghanistan. Capacity- and institution-building, for government and legislative structures, and civil society organizations, will be crucial during our Decade of Transformation (2015-2024). In particular, we seek your support for the empowerment of women.

The global illicit narcotics economy and international terrorism have had a disastrous impact on Afghanistan. The people of Afghanistan are prime victims of these transnational threats, and although there has been limited progress in addressing these menaces, the problems remain virulent and extensive. In order to effectively tackle these threats, we must address all forms of organized crime, based on our shared responsibility and applying a holistic approach, and we should focus on curtailing illicit financial flows. Follow the money and you will find the villain.

Mr. Chairman,

As I mentioned before, Afghanistan has benefitted from its partnership with the international community for the past decade and we remain strongly committed to our continued partnership with the OSCE and UNODC, for the success of our Decade of Transformation (2015-2024). Afghanistan makes every effort on national, regional and international levels to fight all forms of organized crime. Last week, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani during a meeting with the OSCE Secretary General also emphasized the importance of our partnership with the OSCE, and this week, a parliamentary delegation from Afghanistan will participate in the Winter Session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, and will address our future partnerships here at the Hofburg and also at the Vienna International Centre. The Afghan delegation in Vienna actively participates in the preparatory process for the OSCE Security Days events, as well as at the UN with preparations for the upcoming Commission on Narcotic Drug session, the Crime Congress in Doha, and the UNGASS-2016 on the World Drug Problem.

Earlier today, I heard also the terminology of “Afghanistan-originated drugs”. While I realize the commitments of our partners, as my EU colleague mentioned, I would like to reiterate the importance of addressing the world drug problem as a global challenge and of applying the principle of shared responsibility. As you know, caused by the cold war and related foreign interventions, Afghanistan became a breeding ground for terrorist activities and organized crime, including illicit drugs. To this day, we remain a prime victim and we pay a heavy price in doing our part in fighting against these transnational, global threats. We believe that no country should be singled out when we discuss global challenges, but we all should join forces and do our part in addressing these transnational, universal threats.

 

Thank you

MPs from Afghanistan participate in the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly

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Vienna, 20.02.2015

A high-ranking delegation of MPs from both houses of the National Assembly of Afghanistan participated in the 14th Winter Meeting of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, held at Vienna’s Hofburg from 18 to 20 February, 2015.

Delegates from the Upper House (Meshrano Jirga, House of Elders) and the Lower House (Wolesi Jirga, House of the People) actively participated in the meetings and presented statements in General Committee meetings on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions, including a special debate on “Human Rights of Migrants and Refugees”; and on Political Affairs and Security, including a special debate on “Transnational Security in the OSCE Area: Confronting Terrorism”. Statements were also made during the two Joint Sessions of the General Committees, including a response to the report by Ms. Hedy Fry, the Parliamentary Assembly’s Special Representative on Gender Issues.

Delegates also engaged in a number of bilateral talks with other delegations and OSCE officials at the margins of the conference, and participated in a panel discussion co-organized by ACUNS-Vienna, UNODC and the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan (for details please see separate Press Release).

 

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Ambassador Erfani addresses the IAEA’s meeting with National Experts

 Ambassador Erfani addresses the IAEA’s meeting with National Experts 

Ambassador Erfani with IAEA experts and the Afghan Delegation

Ambassador Erfani with IAEA experts and the Afghan Delegation

Vienna, 06/02/2015

Ambassador Erfani addressed the organisers and Afghan delegation in Vienna for the IAEA National Experts Meeting to Design and Formulate Technical Cooperation National Projects of Afghanistan for 2016-2017, at the VIC today. The meetings were held from 2-6 February and it was a great opportunity for the delegates to discuss furthering technical cooperation in Afghanistan. Ambassador Erfani addressed the closing session noting the important achievements Afghanistan has made for the past decade, such as the establishment of the Independent Nuclear Energy Commission and how far Afghanistan has come in terms of capacity building in the country, with the assistance of the IAEA, especially in the areas of safety, agricultures and human health. He mentioned that Afghanistan’s priority of strengthening the quality control of X-Ray equipment; radiological monitoring; energy planning; using atomic energy in water, soil and crop improvement; and the Aliabad teaching hospital telemedicine program, among others, are all of great importance as we moved towards improved capabilities and capacities in the country. We appreciate the active cooperation and partnership of the IAEA with Afghanistan in these fields.

Additionally, this week Ambassador Erfani was kept busy with a number of pressing issues: He met with academic Ms. Edit Schlaffer (Women without Borders, Sisters against Violent Extremism) to discuss empowerment of women in Afghanistan, making reference to the successful women’s employment project in Kunduz. They discussed her organisations and possibilities for cooperation with Afghanistan in the future; and the OSCE’s engagement with Afghanistan and neighbouring countries.

On Tuesday Ambassador Erfani met with Ambassador Launsky, head of the Austrian Foreign Ministry’s Department of Development Cooperation to discuss Austria’s furture possible involvement for development projects in Afghanistan and they also discussed including the issues related to the Kunduz project on womens empowerment.

On Wednesday, Ambassador Erfani attended a brainstorming session at the OSCE to prepare for a Security Days discussion on how the OSCE could enhance its efforts to promote tolerance and non-discrimination, as one way to help to prevent the growing challenge of religious related violence in the OSCE region and expressed Afghanistan’s position. Ambassador Erfani noted the importance of the sensitisation of all people to religious diversity and promotion of tolerance and respect for all people. At the meeting he condemned the brutal killing of the Jordanian pilot this week at the hands of extremists.

On Friday, Ambassador Erfani met with the head of the UNODC Terrorism Prevention Branch (TPB) and his team, to discuss UNODC projects in Afghanistan and how the UNODC can be more actively implement these projects in the country. They exchanged views on the future of cooperation and the mandate of the UNODC and Afghanistan’s National Priority Programs. He thanked the UNODC’s continued participation in  Afghanistan’s stabilisation process.

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Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Ayoob Erfani to the OSCE Security Committee

Mr. Chairman,

We thank you, Ambassador Vuk Žugić, for organizing today’s meeting and for outlining the priorities of the 2015 Chairmanship of Security Committee.

We congratulate the Romanian SC Chairmanship and wish you, Mr. Chairman, every success!

Afghanistan remains committed to its close co-operation with the OSCE in 2015, across all three dimensions, and security clearly continues to be one of our priorities in our collaboration with the OSCE. In particular, border management and security are vital issues.

2014 was a special year for Afghanistan, with the completion of the transition process, and the elections. We accomplished advancements in a number of areas, including economy, security and politics – with the generous assistance of our international friends and partners.

With the completion of the security transition and the drawdown of NATO/ISAF, the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) are now fully in charge of the security in the country. They have shown their professional capability during the 2014 elections, and also in recent months. As it was previously done by women and youth organizations, as well as by both houses of the parliament, more than 5000 religious leaders from across the country gathered in Kabul last week to express their resolute support for the ANSF, using the slogan of “long live the ANSF”.

We stand now at the beginning of our Decade of Transformation (2015-2024) and we will be looking to seize every opportunity while vigorously tackling all remaining challenges. Here, we continuously require the strong support of the international community, with a view to consolidating and expanding on what has been achieved so far. I thank all colleagues who emphasized this morning the necessity of OSCE’s continued support for Afghanistan.

Let me also thank Mr. Alexey Lyzhenkov, OSCE’s Co-ordinator of Activities to Address Transnational Threats (Transnational Threats Department – TNTD)  for presenting the TNTD’s strategic outlook 2015, Afghanistan has taken good advantage of TNTD’s programmes  through participation in all its sessions and workshops, and I am confident we will be able to further strengthen our close co-operation this year.

Thank you!

 

 

Statement by H.E. Ambassador Ayoob Erfani at the OSCE Security Committee meeting in response to the presentation by UK Ministry of Defence Representative, Mr Steven Flavell

Mr. Chairman,

I thank you Mr. Chairman for chairing the OSCE SC and appreciate your good work and excellent leadership during this difficult year for the OSCE.

I would like to warmly welcome Mr. Flavell to the OSCE and thank him for his presentation.

Let me also welcome Ms. Raihana Azad, a member of the Afghan parliament, who will also briefly address this meeting.

We are grateful to the Government of the United Kingdom for their continued commitment in helping the Afghan people to consolidate democracy, freedom and security in Afghanistan. Training provided by UK servicemen and servicewomen has enabled the ANSF to become a reliable actor in providing security, promoting the rule of law and strengthening our national law enforcement capability.

Our new government, under the leadership of President Ashraf Ghani and CEO Abdullah Abdullah, will have an ambitious set of goals for the future of our country, including tackling corruption and terrorism, as well as finding solutions to the menace of illicit narcotics. However, the National Unity Government believes in a comprehensive and transnational strategy to tackle these intertwined issues and continues to stress the importance of economic development and promotion of women’s rights in Afghanistan.

2014 has been a crucial year for Afghanistan, a country which has long suffered as the victim of conflict and warfare. We began our transition process in 2001, when our partners in the international community started helping the people Afghanistan, right after the UN Security Council unanimous resolution no. 1378. They provided us with the opportunity to get rid of the threat of terrorism and to have a stable and peaceful future, which we were denied in the previous decade.

This year we have completed our political, security and economic transition. Transition has taken place in our government, through the historic presidential and provincial council elections of the first ever-democratic transfer of power to the new elected president, and soon the cabinet of National Unity Government will be presented to the parliament. The Afghan Government submitted its post-2014 economic priority program entitled “Implementation of Self-Sufficiency” to our donors in London on December 4. The ISAF mission will come to an end on December 31, and in 16 days the ANSF will assume full responsibility for the security of the country.

The strengthening of co-operation with NATO and our regional and international partners remains an utmost priority of the NUG. The new President of Afghanistan has signed the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the United States and the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with NATO, and we also have signed strategic partnership agreements with many of the countries present here today. These agreements provide a basis for the training and equipping of the ANSF, as well as for the effectiveness of further economic development in the country.

Taking this opportunity I would like to emphasize the following three key points:

  1. As the Transformation decade begins, we are grateful to our NATO and other international partners for their sacrifices and for their commitment to train, advice and assist the ANSF, which remains essential for a better future for the Afghan people.
  2. We wish to assure our partners and friends that, while realizing the seriousness of remaining challenges, pertaining to both security and the economy, we are determined to take a brave step forward to overcome these challenges. We seek to provide Afghanistan’s strategic location as an opportunity for trade, transit and connectivity in our region and beyond. Let me also reassure that we will not accept anyone using our soil to pose a threat to anyone.
  3. Our continued partnership, including through the NATO Resolute Support Mission and with the determination of the new government of Afghanistan, our joint efforts will guarantee our success.

Once again we would like to thank Mr. Flavell for his comprehensive presentation and insights on the future Afghan Security.

Likewise, I wish to thank all of today’s speakers who expressed their countries’ support to Afghanistan in the years to come.

Thank you.

 

 

Ambassador Erfani addressed the participants at the Power Breakfast on the “Small Arms Survey 2014 Yearbook: Women and Guns” and the “Expert Group Meeting on Violence against Women and Comprehensive Security” at the OSCE

 

This morning, Ambassador Erfani participated in a Power Breakfast session on Women and Guns where he shared Afghanistan’s experiences, achievements, challenges and future prospects on this important matter. He also participated in the expert group meeting on violence against women and comprehensive security. The discussion focused on the understanding of the gender perspective of personal security in the OSCE participating states and partners for cooperation.

The panel consisted of experts from various fields and organizations, including, representatives from the OSCE Gender section and the OSCE academy in Bishkek, the country representative of UN Women in Albania, the EU FRA and civil society.

Ambassador Erfani expressed his gratitude to the partners of Afghanistan for their help during the stabilization process in the country for the last 13 years, with the empowerment of women being one important aspect. He referred to the need for a comprehensive approach that takes into account the physical security of women and girls, the prime victims of decade-long conflict, as well as women’s rights, poverty eradication, the creation of job opportunities and access to education and health. He emphasized that Afghanistan is committed to this important issue as one of the main national priorities and needs the international communities’ continuous and effective support.

“The impact of gender-based violence is enormous and has ripple effects throughout our society. Afghanistan has taken a number of legal, social, educational and financial steps to improve the situation of women, but we must acknowledge that violence against girls and women still persists, to a degree that is unacceptable. Afghanistan has become a much better place for women, but there is a long way to go to eliminate all forms of violence against them and to accomplish comprehensive security in the country.”

Ambassador Erfani emphasized that Afghanistan is continuing its efforts in improving the situation of women in the country. He stressed the commitment to implement comprehensive new security mechanisms to ensure that their rights are upheld in Afghanistan.

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Ambassador Erfani headed the Afghan delegation at the 21st meeting of the OSCE Ministerial Council in Basel

Ambassador Erfani headed the Afghan delegation at the

21st meeting of the OSCE Ministerial Council in Basel

 

Basel

Basel/Switzerland, 05.12.2014

H.E. Ambassador Erfani headed the delegation of Afghanistan at the 21st OSCE Ministerial Council in Basel/Switzerland (4-5 December 2014).

 

The Ambassador delivered statements to the plenary session and during a special session on terrorism. He also held a number of bilateral meetings with other heads of delegations, including several Foreign Ministers, among them the Swiss Foreign Minister and OSCE Chairman-in-Office for 2014, H.E. Didier Burkhalter (photo).

 

Mr. Ambassador during the plenary session highlighted the achievements which enabled Afghanistan’s transition to the upcoming transformation decade and referred to OSCE’s role during stabilization process in Afghanistan. He underscored that for the first time in Afghanistan a democratic transfer of power from one to another elected President took place and that the National Unity Government is making practical steps to implement its programmes, in line with Afghanistan’s National Priority Programmes (NPPs) and the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework.

 

During the special session on terrorism, Ambassador Erfani called on all countries to reinforce collective efforts in the spirit of shared responsibility and to take a comprehensive approach in fighting this terrible scourge: “We must take a holistic approach that covers both a response from our security forces to terrorism, as well as economic development , engagement with the civil society to counter violent extremism and radicalization that can be conducive to terrorism”, Mr. Ambassador said.

 

The Ministerial Council discussed current crisis and protracted conflicts in the OSCE area including the crisis in and around Ukraine, conflicts in Transdniestria, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Georgia. Delegates engaged in constructive deliberations on broader Eurasian security matters and adopted a number of important documents including the Ministerial Declaration on Co-operation with the Asian Partners, with OSCE’s commitment to continue its support for Afghanistan’s transformation decade.

 

Ambassador concluded by stating the readiness of the Afghan Government to further intensify co-operation with the OSCE under the 2015 Swiss Chairmanship of the OSCE Asian Contact Group, and under the incoming Serbian Chairmanship of the OSCE, whom he wished every success.

 

Afghanistan is one of five OSCE Partners for Co-operation in Asia, since 2003.

 

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Statement by H.E. Ambassador Ayoob Erfani in response to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, H.E. Ban Ki-Moon

 

Thank you Mr Chairman,

 

It is my honor to join the previous speakers in warmly welcoming His Excellency Ban Ki-moon the Secretary-General of the United Nations, back to Vienna.

 

Afghanistan, since 2001 has started its new journey to rebuild the country from the ruins of more than two decades of wars and conflict. Thanks to the commitment, efforts and sacrifices of the Afghan people, supported by the continued friendship and sacrifices of our partners in the international community, has made tremendous progress and now we are on the eve of transition to the Decade of Transformation 2015-2024. As a result of democratic elections and peaceful transfer of power to the new President–for the first time in the history of Afghanistan–the new Government of National Unity has been established and it will make every effort to address the remaining challenges for the successful transformation of Afghanistan for the coming decade.

 

The United Nations has played an instrumental and central coordinating role of international community’s civilian efforts in this stabilization, democratization and transition process, to help Afghanistan for a better future. Taking this opportunity, I wish to express on behalf of the Government and people of Afghanistan, my gratitude to the United Nations and in particular to you Mr. Secretary-General for your personal commitment, as a good friend of Afghanistan. We are grateful for the excellent work of UNAMA in Afghanistan, which has been done so far under the leadership of Ambassador Ján Kubiš. We thank him and wish him every success for his future endeavours.

 

The role of the United Nations in Afghanistan after the drawdown of the international community’s military presence in the country by the end of this year will remain vital to accomplish our goals, for a stable, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan. Clearly, Afghanistan has come a long way over the past thirteen years and has reached a point of no return — we will never go back to the dark ages of the Taliban era. Our constitution, institutions, and security forces are strong, but even stronger is the will of the Afghan people to establish a free, democratic, stable and peaceful country, as they have so overwhelmingly demonstrated during the latest democratic elections, earlier this year.

 

Mr Chairman,

 

We are grateful for the continued support of our friends and partners in the international community and we will never forget their sacrifices and friendship for supporting Afghanistan for a better future.

 

Thank you

Ambassador Erfani makes an intervention at the OSCE Security Committee

Ambassador Erfani makes an intervention at the OSCE Security Committee

Vienna, 15.09.2014

 

The delegation of Afghanistan was invited by the UK Chair of the Security Committee to speak at today’s session of the Security Committee, on border-related issues, in response to presentations made by Sibylle Kapferer, Border Security and International Refugee Protection, UNHCR; Manuchehr Fayzulloev, Head of Border Management Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan, Nasimjon Rajabov, representative of the Department of Border Forces of the State Committee for National Security of Tajikistan; Nazira Shozodaeva, Border Management Assistant, OSCE Office in Tajikistan; and Dennis Cosgrove, Head, Border Security and Management Unit, TNTD.

 

Ambassador Erfani highlighted UNHCR’s strong partnership with the Afghan Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation and the importance of the “Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees”, addressing the problems of Afghan refugees returning from Iran and Pakistan, via voluntary repatriation programmes, as well as about 600,000 internally displaced people.

 

In response to the presentations made by Mr. Fayzulloev and Mr. Rajabov, the Ambassador pledged continued co-operation between Afghanistan and Tajikistan in addressing transnational threats. He recalled that in October 2013, the two countries have signed three agreements of co-operation, on de-mining, cross-border co-operation and the insurance sector. At a meeting in Dushanbe, on September 12, at the margins of the 13th Annual Summit of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, Tajik President Rahmon and Afghan President Karzai discussed implementation of joint programs, matters related to transit and trade, as well as bilateral co-operation in the energy sphere. “Both presidents expressed confidence toward improved peace and stability along the shared border and a successful combat against trafficking of illicit drugs, precursors, arms and weapons, as well as disruption of terrorist activities which pose serious threats not only to our two countries but to the whole region and beyond”, Ambassador Erfani noted.

 

“Ms. Shozodaeva and Mr. Cosgrove gave us an insightful look into their work and we appreciate both the important work of the OSCE Office in Tajikistan and the Border Security and Management Unit of OSCE’s Transnational Threats Department”, the Ambassador said when replying to their excellent presentations. The Border Management Staff College (BMSC) in Dushanbe opened in May 2009 as a centre of excellence and plays a crucial role in tackling cross-border threats. A number of Afghan senior border officials have already benefitted from transfer of knowledge and capacity building programs at the college.

 

Before closing, Mr. Ambassador made mention of today’s International Day of Democracy, declared by the UN General Assembly in 2007. “We are reminded to uphold the values, norms and principles of the United Nations Charter. Afghanistan is a young democracy and reiterates its commitment to the Charter”, Ambassador Erfani said.

 

Finally, Mr. Ambassador thanked once again all speakers for your inspiring presentations and the UK Chairperson of the Security Committee for the opportunity to speak.

 

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