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Elections in Afghanistan – OSCE Asian Contact Group

H.E. Ambassador Ayoob Erfani makes a presentation on the 5 April 
elections in Afghanistan, at the Asian Contact Group meeting of the 
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)

Elections Afghanistan at the OSCE

Elections Afghanistan at the OSCE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vienna, 04.04.2014 

Ambassador Erfani today gave a comprehensive
presentation at the 2 nd meeting of OSCE’s Asian Contact Group in 2014, on
tomorrow’s presidential and provincial council elections. He stressed the historical
significance of the vote, in light of the 2014 transition and the upcoming decade of
transformation 2015-2024, calling the elections “a major opportunity to strengthen
our young democracy”.

The Ambassador thanked the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human
Rights (ODIHR) for once again deploying an election support team to Afghanistan.
H.E. Erfani also highlighted the crucial role of local and international civil society
and media, with around 265,000 observers, agents and reporters serving as
election watchdogs. In this context, H.E. Erfani stated that he takes pride in the
thriving, independent and free media landscape in the country: “There are now 75
TV channels, 175 radio stations and hundreds of print publications and blogs in
Afghanistan, which are giving the election campaigns wall-to-wall coverage,
including televised debates, and positively affecting our perception of a vibrant
democracy.”

The women and the young of Afghanistan play a role of particular importance in
tomorrow’s elections: “Without the full and equal participation of women, we will
never have a stable Afghanistan, and their empowerment is essential for the
education and well-being of Afghanistan’s youth”, the Ambassador stated. At the
same time, women will be facing more challenges than anybody else during these
elections. 350,000 national and international security forces will secure the almost
6,500 polling centers throughout the country, responding to threats by the Taliban
and other terrorist groups to disrupt and sabotage the elections. H.E. Ayoob Erfani

emphasized that “this is a historic moment for the people of
Afghanistan, witnessing the first-ever democratic transfer of power.” He thanked
the United States, Japan and other present partners of Afghanistan for their
tireless efforts and generous contributions with regard to electoral processes,
while expressing his deepest grief for their sacrifices and giving his condolences for
the loss of a German journalist killed in an attack earlier today.

In conclusion, H.E. Erfani underlined that these elections are going to happen and
that the Afghan people remain undeterred by threats because their strong desire
to have their say on the future of the country outweighs their concerns. The
Afghan people are unified in their wish for a better Afghanistan, which is precisely
what they deserve.

In reply to the presentation by Ambassador Erfani, a number of OSCE participating
and partner countries including Greece (on behalf of the European Union), the
United States, Canada, Turkey, Australia and Japan reiterated their support for the
5 April elections, a milestone in the history of Afghanistan.

-END-

 

H.E. Ambassador Ayoob Erfani statement at OSCE Permanent Council on 17 January terrorist attack that occurred in Kabul

Thank you Mr. Chairman

Last Friday January 17, Kabul fell victim to another indiscriminate and criminal terrorist suicide attack. The attack took the lives of 21 innocent individuals in a Lebanese Restaurant  with no regard to their nationality, race, religion, creed or color. Among the victims were 13 internationals and 8 Afghans.  I had the honor of knowing most  of the victims and had personally worked with some of  them during my tenure in Kabul.

Our heart, thoughts and condolences go out to all of those who have suffered losses through this terrorist attack. I would like to take this opportunity to express my delegation’s sincerest condolences to the families, friends and governments of the fallen victims. We are deeply sorry, and strongly condemn and deplore the acts of senseless violence and intimidation as committed by the terrorists and enemies of the Afghan people.

Having had the opportunity to work with some of the victims, I can say with confidence that despite nationality, religion or belief we were gathered around one mission and one dream, to work for peace, development, human rights and humanity and a better future for Afghanistan.

HE President Hamad Karzai has condemned this terrorist attack and extended his sympathies to the families of all victims.  The President also received  HE Mr. Jan Kubiš the SRSG in Afghanistan, and expressed his condolences for the fallen UN staff members.

The people of Afghanistan are committed to continuing their journey during the decade of transformation, and are determined to face all remaining challenges including terrorism. The people of Afghanistan are grateful for the last 12 years  of support and sacrifices of our friends, and appreciate their commitments and continued support for Afghanistan which remain vital in the coming decade of transformation 2015 – 2025.

Thank you.

 

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 made statement at the OSCE Security Committee meetIng

Vienna, 30.09.2013    At today’s meeting of the OSCE’s Security Committee, presentations on Border Security and Management in Tajikistan were made by Mr. Manuchehr Mahmudov, Head of Territorial and Border Settlement Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan, and Mr. Suhrob Kaharov, Tajikistan Country Manager of the Border Management Programme in Central Asia (BOMCA), launched by the European Union in 2003.

Following the presentation by Tjikistan’s delegation, the representative of some countries, among other issues,expressed their concerns from the pssible security challenges from  Afghanistan after drow down of international security forces in 2014.

H.E. Ayoob Erfani welcomed the two speakers to the OSCE, thanked them for their excellent briefings, expressed Afghanistan’s appreciation of the friendly and brotherly relationship it enjoys with Tajikistan, and highlighted the “enhanced level of co-operation on bilateral, trilateral and quadrilateral levels, as well as regional initiatives such as the Istanbul Process and international mechanisms, which are essential not just for the well-being of our two nations but for the security, stability and economic development of our entire region and beyond”.

Ambassador Erfani continued by stressing the fact that “Afghanistan is now approaching  an important milestone: the process of Transition, which will be completed at the end 2014 and which will lead us into the Decade of Transformation (2015-2024) that will mark a new era of partnership between Afghanistan and the international community.” During the 12 years of partnership with its friends in the international community, Afghanistan managed to establish all necessary institutions, including its national security forces, to defend the country against both internal and external threats. Despite great achievements in most areas, Afghanistan is still facing certain challenges, including terrorism, drugs and other organized crimes. Ambassador Erfani noted that “it is the shared responsibility of all OSCE participating and partner States to address these transnational threats and common challenges.”, and he concluded his remarks by stating that “I would like to emphasize that as of 2014, Afghanistan shall not be seen as  source of a security threat to our region, which includes five OSCE participating states;  I would like to assure you all that ,Afghanistan is committed to be a source of good neighborly relations, stability, transit, investment , exchange and connectivity in our region”.

LINK:   http://www.osce.org/tajikistan                – 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.”

Statement by Ambassador Erfani, at the OSCE PC meeting, in the presence of the SG of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization

Mr. Chairman ,

 

Dear Colleagues

My delegation is delighted to join the previous speakers and warmly welcome HE SG of the SCO Mr. Dimitry Mezentsev and thank him for his comprehensive and informative presentation. I listened to SC’s  remarks on Afghanistan and I would like to make the following brief comments.

 

Afghanistan is an observer to the SCO and highly values its relationship with the SCO and the role of SCO to address the serious challenges that our region is facing today.

Dear colleagues,

When the SCO was established back in 2001, Afghanistan was experiencing the darkest days of its history.

After 12 years since the collapse of the Taliban, Afghanistan, actively supported by our partners in the international community, turned an important page in its history and started transitioning to a peaceful, stable and self–reliant society.

Today we are completing out transition. All the basic state institutions in Afghanistan which had been destroyed in the long years of war have been rebuilt, and our economy is steadily moving forward towards integration with the economies of the region and the world. Furthermore Afghanistan is making tremendous efforts to become the connecting point of regional integration and transit investment for the countries in the region and beyond.

 

We are particularly proud of our security forces who have already taken over independent control of security in 90% of Afghanistan from the international security assistance force (ISAF) as part of the transition process. This has been a successful process so far and we are confident that by 2014, Afghan forces will be fully and effectively in charge of defending Afghanistan and securing the lives of our people.

As our security forces continue to grow in strength and confidence we look forward to continuing our partnership and cooperation in the security sector with the countries and organizations that have supported us over the years as well as our regional friends and partners among them the SCO.

No partnership that we forge will be a source of threat to our neighbors or any other country.

Transition, of course, implies more than security, hence the government of Afghanistan with the support of its partners is preparing itself for a comprehensive security, political and economic Transition, including the ongoing peace process and upcoming presidential election in 2014.

Dear colleagues,

 

The vision we have for Afghanistan is not only for a peaceful and prosperous country for the Afghans, but also to have friendly, constructive and dependable partners for the region, because without the region’s goodwill, support and contributions, Afghanistan would not have been able to make the transition we are making today . We know that while our friends will come from all corners of the world, our true security and prosperity fundamentally depend on the region that surrounds us.

We believe  that a stable and prosperous Afghanistan will be an important contributing  factor to  security and greater economic interaction across the whole region, while Afghanistan’s challenges will affect the surrounding region more than any other.

We know that the SCO today is greatly concerned by the threats they see as emanating from Afghanistan, following the withdrawal of international forces from the country, including the narcotics trade. The situation is intolerable for us too. We must not look the root of drug problem in Afghanistan farms , where Afghan farmers benefits less than 5% from the money coming out of the drug trade. This menace, including the trafficking of procuresses  to Afghanistan and high demands in the international markets and the  global mafia that sustains it, threatens the fabric of our society, including our ability to develop our legal economy in tandem with the region and the world. The threat of terrorism, which is not based in villages and towns  of Afghanistan , but emanates from sanctuaries beyond our borders, is another common challenge Terrorism is not based in the villages and towns of Afghanistan.

These are our common challenges, with regional and global dimensions and  we  all have a common responsibility to address them.

To be able to address these challenges effectively, the need for a sincere result-oriented cooperation at the regional level is more acute than ever before. We want the region to see us not as a source of trouble but as a partner in the common effort for a stable region.

The role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in mobilizing and coordinating common regional efforts, in particular with regard to the fight against the common enemies of terrorism and narcotics, remains essential and is commendable. We also urge the SCO to focus on the lethal smugglings in the region, which feeds the violence in Afghanistan and other countries in the region.

Afghanistan is a victim of global threats and challenges of drugs and terrorism , and it need a comprehensive approach and practical action undertaken by all under the principle of shared responsibility.

We assure you Mr SG that, Afghanistan as an observer to the SCO is committed to do its part at the national, regional and international levels in fighting against our challenges and contribute to a stable and prosperous region. I wish you and your team every success in the efforts undertaken to address our common challenges and thank you  for your commitment for the stability of our region.

 

Thank you

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)

With 57 States from Europe, Central Asia and North America, the OSCE is the world’s largest regional security organization. It offers a forum for political negotiations and decision-making in the fields of early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation. It puts the political will of its participating states into practice through its unique network of field missions. Its comprehensive view of security covers three dimensions: the politico-military, the economic and environmental and the human. Since 2003 Afghanistan became a partner for co-operation to the OSCE. Thus Afghanistan, as one of OSCE’s Asian partners, benefits from shared experience of the OSCE in a number of areas, such as a new security paradigm, conflict prevention, applicability of confidence-building mechanisms, human dimension security and anti-trafficking.

Ambassador Ayoob M. Erfani presents keynote address at OSCE’s Annual Security Review Conference

The 2013 Annual Security Review Conference (ASRC) of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in  Europe (OSCE) took place on June 19-20, at the conference centre of the OSCE, Vienna’s Hofburg. The main focus was on transnational threats and challenges, trends in  early  warning,  the  conflict  cycle,  matters   related  to  arms  control  ,  security-  and confidence-building measures, and the fourth working session  was  focused on the “the draw down of international military forces in Afghanistan and its possible  implications for Afghanistan, its neighbors, and the OSCE community as a whole”.

 

H.E. Ambassador Erfani participated as the panelist on the fourth session and presented a keynote address,  focusing on the present situation in the country and analyzing future politico-security, economic and human aspects of Afghanistan in post 2014.

 

At the begining of his keynote address, Ambassador Erfani shed some light on achieved progress  and   remaining  challenges,  issues  related  to  transition,  the  peace  process, strengthening  regional   co-operation,  holding  presidential  election,  fighting  terrorism, extremism  and  narcotics,  Afghanistan’s  vision  of  decade  of  transformation,  needs  for strengthening  of  the  Afghan  National  Security  Forces,   protection  of  citizens  rights, empowerment of women, as well as the country’s relationship with the OSCE.

 

H.E. Ambassador Erfani stressed that “Afghanistan back in 2001 was a failed state … for the last 12 years, Afghanistan supported by its partners, spent enormous resources, sacrificed tens of thousands of lives to fight terrorism and  extremism for the cause of justice, peace, democracy,  human  rights  and  development   in  the  country,  and  achieved  substantial

 

progress … and now Afghanistan is ready for full Transition to Afghan ownership, leadership toward the Decade of Transformation for a stable and prosperous Afghanistan”.

 

The Ambassador highlighted the important role the OSCE has played in Afghanistan since the country become an Asian Partner for Co-operation in 2003, while stressing that there is still room for expanded co-operation between the OSCE and Afghanistan.

 

Mr.  Ambassador  also  asserted  that  the  peace  process  continues  to  be  an  urgent  and exceptionally high priority for the Afghan government, a rightful aspiration and urgent need of the Afghan people and that  the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process will be negotiated  with  all  those groups  “who  are  ready  to  renounce  violence,  denounce terrorism, accept the Constitution of Afghanistan … in particular women’s rights” and all of the people of Afghanistan, particularly women, must be part of this process.

 

Referring  to  the  transition,  the  Ambassador  mentioned  that  the  draw-down  of  the international forces from Afghanistan, at the end of the transition in 2014, would potentially lead to new problems in the country and he added “… however, in contrast to the negative views portrayed in the media, the majority of  Afghans are generally optimistic about the future  of  their  country  …  and  ambitious  to  grasp  every   opportunity  of  education, modernization, global connectivity, democratic values, liberty and prosperity …. we have an emerging young generation and promising realities and today, everywhere in the country, you can sense this irresistible urge for progress”.  Several delegations delivered statements expressing their  support for Afghanistan during transition and beyond. Ambassador Erfani also responded to the questions raised by delegations from the floor.