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On behalf of President Karzai, Ambassador Erfani awards Professor Zahma Ali Mohammad a medal of honour

Vienna, 17 August 2014     

Ambassador presenting the Mir Bacha Khan medallion.

Ambassador presenting the Mir Bacha Khan medallion.

 On behalf of President Karzai and the Afghan Government, the Embassy and Permanent Mission of Afghanistan held a medal ceremony for the honourable Professor Ali Mohammad Zahma at the Embassy Residence to bestow upon him the Medal of Mir Bacha Khan. The revered accolade was presented to Professor Zahma to mark his achievements and contributions to culture and education in Afghanistan.

A group of Afghans and foreign diplomats in Austria joined the celebration at the Residence, in addition to the Deputy Minister of Counter-Narcotics, Mr Sherzad and his delegation visiting the UNODC, and Embassy staff. Ambassador Erfani welcomed the guests to the event and expressed his respect for the achievements and activism for Afghanistan that the Professor accomplished during his illustrious career as an academic and government official in Kabul and abroad. Professor Zahma took the floor to share brief remarks about his experiences in Afghanistan and thanked those present for such a high honour and his wishes for a stable and prosperous future for Afghanistan. He expressed his great desire, in his old age, to once more have the chance to visit his beloved homeland.

 

Upon presenting the medal at the ceremony’s conclusion, H.E. Ambassador Ayoob Erfani took the floor, lauding the Professor and hoping that future generations shall also live in his image, to work towards a better future for Afghanistan through promoting the importance of education and equality amongst all Afghans.  He wished the Professor a long and healthy life and his wish that the Professor continue his contributions during the coming Decade of Transformation, with guests supporting that sentiment.

 

Short profile of Professor Zahma

Professor Ali Mohammad Zahma.

Professor Ali Mohammad Zahma.

DOB 1924 Kandahar

Professor Zahma attended Habibyar High school in Kandahar.

After his secondary schooling he attended the University of Kabul and then went to work for a period at the Ministry of Education. Whilst working he also became a prolific author of a number of books, poetry and translator of texts.

He completed a master’s degree at a university in London and returned to Kabul as a Professor of Afghan and Persian Literature in the Literature Faculty at the Kabul University. He also completed a tenure as a literature Professor at Beijing University, China.

Professor Zahma suffered and left the country for Hungary in 1985, after the communist takeover. From there he moved to Vienna, Austria, where he has lived since with his wife and children promoting education and Afghan culture. 

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Die Presse Artikel – “Ich war in Kabul viel freier als später in Innsbruck” Buchpraesentation von Heide Amato Koller

Heide Amato-Koller lebte als Kind in den Fünfzigern in Afghanistan. Nun schildert sie ihre durchaus schönen Erinnerungen in einem Buch.

   (DiePresse.com)

Mrs Amato-Koller signs one of her books.

Mrs Amato-Koller signs one of her books.

Es ist ein heißer Nachmittag in der afghanischen Botschaft in Wien. Der kleine Saal, geschmückt mit Kristallleuchtern und goldbraunen Vorhängen, füllt sich mit unterschiedlichsten Gästen – mit Männern in feinen Anzügen und Frauen mit Kopftüchern oder dunkler Langhaarfrisur. Eine etwas nervös wirkende grauhaarige Frau mit vielen Papiertüten in der Hand sticht aus dieser Menschenmenge hervor. Sie setzt sich zwischen den afghanischen Gesandten und den Botschafter hin und legt ein Buch auf den Tisch.

Fast 60 Jahre nach ihrer Kindheit in Kabul beschloss die Tirolerin Heide Amato-Koller ihre Erinnerungen in einem Buch zu verarbeiten. In der afghanischen Botschaft stellt die 72-Jährige „Kindheit in Kabul” erstmals vor. „Uns ist es wichtig, dass dieses Buch gerade zur Zeit großer Transformation von Afghanistan erscheint”, sagt der Botschafter Ayoob M. Erfani. „Wir sind froh, dass man über Afghanistan auch Positives hört, wie im Amato-Kollers Werk. Das sollte noch mehr gefördert werden.”

Dann beginnt die Autorin mit ein wenig unsicherer Stimme aus ihrem Buch zu lesen. „In Hall, unserem kleinem Dorf in Tirol,hat damals kaum jemand von Afghanistan gehört”, erinnert sie sich. „Sogar Lehrer konnten mir keine Auskunft über dieses Land geben.”

Das Buch umfasst mehrere Geschichten aus der Perspektive eines Kindes, als auch Briefe und Fotografien, die ihr Vater aufgenommen hat. Auch die wichtigsten historischen Ereignisse jener Zeit werden im Buch prägnant dargestellt. Das 100-seitige Werk erschien heuer im März im Eigenverlag. Beim Schreibprozess sei der anwesende „Ghostwriter” Mario Jandrokovic eine große Hilfe gewesen.

Angefangen hat die Geschichte mit der Bewerbung ihres Vaters für eine Stelle in Kabul. „Als Gymnasiallehrer hatte er in Tirol keine großen beruflichen Aussichten gehabt. Nach halbjährigen Vorbereitungen reisten wir endlich ab. Vom Mailand nach Karatschi mit Propellerflugzeug, dann quer durch Pakistan mit Zug, schließlich mit dem Auto über Chaiber- Pass nach Kabul.” Die langwierige Reise, auf der sie Nomadenvölker, Oasen und eine unerträgliche Hitze begegnet sind, klingt wie eine exotische Erzählung aus Tausendeine Nacht.

Ein Schaf auf der Ladefläche

In Afghanistan konnten sie jedoch nicht alleine herumreisen. Amato-Koller beschreibt den einzigen Ausflug, den sie mit ihrer afghanischen Freundin machen durfte als die beeindruckendste Erinnerung jener Jahre. „Durch den Kontakt mit meiner netten afghanischen Freundin konnte ich vom Alltag von einer Kabuler-Familie mehr miterleben als meine Eltern. Eines Tages durfte ich Isturei begleiten, als sie mit ihren Verwandten einen Ausflug in die Kabuler Umgebung machte. Ich staunte nicht schlecht, dass sich auf der Ladefläche des Autos auch ein Schaf befand….”

Ab und zu unterbricht sie sich entschuldigend und sagt, sie wird wirklich nur noch einen kurzen Aufsatz lesen. Später, in einem ein wenig privateren Gespräch, erklärt sie, das sei ihr erstes Buch. „Das Publikum ist für mich etwas ganz Neues. Ich bin gar nicht an diese Aufmerksamkeit gewöhnt!” Nachdem sie das Buffet mit afghanischen Spezialitäten eröffnet und sich die meisten Gäste neugierig um das Essen drängeln, darf sie sich wieder auf dem Sofa im Büro des Botschafters niederlassen.

Auf die Fragen, welche Sprache sie in Afghanistan gelernt hat und wie viel Kontakt sie mit den Einheimischen hatte, antwortet sie lächelnd: „Ich war in einer kleinen deutschen Privatschule, in der Deutsch und Englisch unterrichtet wurden. Wie gesagt, habe ich nur eine afghanische Freundin gehabt. Alles andere über Afghanistan und seine Einwohner habe ich von meinen Eltern erfahren.” Obwohl sie nicht wirklich reisen durften, verbindet Amato-Koller sehr positive Erinnerungen an jene Zeit. Es sei in den Fünfzigern für Frauen viel einfacher gewesen in die Schule zu gehen, zu studieren und in Kabul ohne männliche Begleitung Spaziergänge zu machen. „Ich war viel freier wie später in der Ursulinenschule (Anm.: Mädchengymnasium) in Innsbruck”, sagt sie schmunzelnd.

Die Frage, warum sie später nie mehr in Afghanistan war, kann sie sich selbst nicht beantworten. Zurzeit wäre es ihr aber zu gefährlich: Ich würde zwar natürlich gerne wieder nach Afghanistan fahren und das Land so sehen, wie es jetzt ist. Aber ich habe zu viele Bedenken”, sagt Amato-Koller und meint damit prekäre Sicherheitslage im Land. Afghanistan wünsche sie jedenfalls nur das Beste.

 

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Ambassador Erfani meets with religious leaders to condemn recruitment of youth to fight in Syria

Vienna, 11 August 2014     

Ambassador Erfani and Minister-Counsellor Wahab Arian meet with Afghan religious leaders in Vienna to condemn the recruitment of Afghan Youth to the fight in Syria.

Ambassador Erfani and Minister-Counsellor Wahab Arian meet with Afghan religious leaders in Vienna to condemn the recruitment of Afghan Youth to the fight in Syria.

Today, Ambassador Erfani and Minister Counsellor Wahab Arian met with a selection of religious leaders from the Afghan community in Vienna to condemn the continued recruitment of Afghan youth in Vienna to the war in Syria. During the past period, a number of Muslim youth have been apprehended attempting to cross the Austrian border to fight in Syria.

Ambassador Erfani thanked the leaders for their attendance and called upon their support during this difficult time, where all Afghans must be united to direct the Afghan youth in Austria to respect the laws of the host country, continue their education and to see the disastrous effects of engaging with recruiting teams who would see our youth head to Syria for the wrong reasons. Ambassador stated that “it is in all our interests to unite against such unsavoury elements, as we have seen in Afghanistan’s past, who would lead our youth astray and see an unstable, hostile Afghanistan return”.

Following the Ambassador’s warnings and suggestions, the group discussed the best way to tackle the issue of recruiters in Austria and to dissuade the youth from following such bad examples. They discussed the importance of preaching good values in the Mosques in Vienna, to encourage Afghan youth to participate positively in the host country and be thankful for the unity, solidarity and peace in the country, and to know the effects of war that their forefathers have experienced. Additionally, Ambassador Erfani noted the importance on togetherness in the Afghan community in Austria and encouraged attendees to remain supportive of each other and their children.

If you know of anyone who you suspect of being in contact with such recruiters or may be in danger of being recruited, please be in contact: embassy@afghanistan-vienna.org or  +43 (0)1 4021006 or call the Austrian police.

 

 

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The Embassy hosts an Eid celebration

The Embassy of Afghanistan in Vienna celebrates Eid 

 

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Ambassador Erfani delivers an Eid message

 

The Embassy and Permanent Mission of Afghanistan in Vienna marked the end of the Ramadan period with an Eid celebration on the Embassy premises.

 

A large group of fellow Afghans from the community here in Austria joined the celebration at the Embassy, in addition to local Austrian officials and some journalists. Ambassador Erfani and Deputy Chief of Mission, Minister-Counselor Abdul Wahab Arian welcomed all guests before the guest of honor, author Dr. Heide Amato-Koller opened the buffet of a delicious selection of Afghan treats. Ambassador Erfani welcomed the guests to the event and he expressed his wishes for sustainable peace and prosperity in Afghanistan. He asked the Afghan community in Vienna to continue to focus on educating their children, as the new promising generation of Afghanistan.

 

The Permanent Mission prepared Afghan dishes for the invited guests. After the meal concluded, H.E. Ambassador Ayoob Erfani took the floor, thanking all guests for their attendance, wishing them all the best and highlighting the significance of Eid celebrations for unity, solidarity and peace in the country and beyond, in particular in light of the 2014 Transition and upcoming Decade of Transformation (2015-2024). Additionally, Ambassador Erfani noted the importance on togetherness in the Afghan community in Austria and encouraged attendees to remain in close contact with the Embassy for future endeavours. Representatives of the Afghan community took the floor and appreciated the active involvement and engagement of the Embassy with the Afghan community in Austria.

 

 

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Embassy hosts book presentation: ‘Kindheit in Kabul’

The Embassy of Afghanistan in Vienna hosts a book presentation of ‘Childhood in Kabul: My years in Afghanistan 1950-1955’ by Heide Amato-Koller

Mrs Amato-Koller and Amabssador Erfani

Mrs Amato-Koller and Ambassador Erfani

 

Vienna, 06.08.2014

The Embassy of Afghanistan in Vienna today hosted a book presentation with author Heide Amato-Koller who presented and read passages from her book detailing the period of her childhood which she spent in Kabul, titled “Kindheit in Kabul – Meine Jahre in Afghanistan 1950 – 1955”.

In his welcoming remarks, H.E. Ambassador Erfani commented that, Mrs. Amato-Koller’s book has been published at an important time of transition and transformation for Afghanistan. As young Afghans work for progress, democracy, and an open society, it is important to view the future in the light of the past.

Ambassador Erfani opened the event with introductory remarks, after which Minister-Counselor Mr. Wahab Arian introduced Mrs. Amato-Koller and her ghostwriter Mr. Mario Jandrokovic.

Ms Koller spoke of her love of the country and the wonderful friendship she made with an Afghan girl, who was her neighbor in Kabul. She also spoke of the intricacies of Afghan society and different cultural experiences she made whilst in Kabul.

Attended by a number of local officials, journalists and members of the Afghan community, the event included a reading of passages from her book and a brief Q&A session, followed by a reception in the Embassy with Afghan specialties.

 

From left: Minister/Counsellor Wahab Arian, Ambassador Erfani, Mrs Amato-Koller and Mr Jandrokovic

From left: Minister/Counsellor Wahab Arian, Ambassador Erfani, Mrs Amato-Koller and Mr Jandrokovic

 

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G-77 + China 50th Anniversary Celebrations

PERMANENT MISSION OF AFGHANISTAN MARKS 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE GROUP OF 77 AND CHINA

 

Mr Baktyra on Rabob and Mr Anwar on the Tabla

Mr Baktyra on Rabob and Mr Anwar on the Tabla

Vienna, 24 June 2014 

Today the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the G-77 continued at the Vienna International Centre. Ambassador Erfani inaugurated this second day with an introductory statement on the achievements made and the goals ahead of the Member States. He addressed the importance of gender equality, youth participation and cooperation across borders and among G-77 Members.

Once the festivities were declared open, two Afghan musicians provided an insight into the traditional music. The Tabla, a musical drum, and the Rabob, a lute-like musical instrument, are traditional key instruments of Afghanistan. Thereafter, Sri Lanka joined in the festival and introduced its culture with dances, costumes and music. Many guests watched and enjoyed the cultural performances.

At the same time, Afghanistan offered a stand with a variety of traditional handcraft, artefacts and food. The participants appreciated the unique opportunity to see Afghan jewellery, stones and tableware. One of the highlights was a selection of traditional Afghan food, including sabzi and pilaw. Egypt, Cuba, Oman, Qatar, Sudan and the Vienna branch of G77 also had their own stands and provided food and brochures.

In conclusion, the 50th anniversary of the G-77 was a great success for Afghanistan and His Excellency Ambassador Erfani. The whole delegation, as well as friends from the Afghan community here in Vienna enjoyed celebrating the ceremony together and showing their commitment to the objectives of the G-77, namely assuring joint action for economic and social development.

 

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