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Statement as delivered by the Chargé d’Affaires a.i., Mr. Hassan Soroosh in response to the Head of the OSCE Office in Tajikistan at the OSCE 1100th Permanent Council Meeting

DELEGATION OF AFGHANISTAN

S t a t e m e n t

as delivered by the Chargé d’Affaires a.i., Mr. Hassan Soroosh

in response to the Head of the OSCE Office in Tajikistan

OSCE – PC1100

May 12, 2016

Thank you, Mr. Chairperson,

 

I wish to join the previous speakers in welcoming Ambassador Markus Müller, Head of the OSCE Office in Tajikistan back to the Permanent Council and thanking him for his comprehensive report.

The Government of Afghanistan highly appreciates the excellent work carried out by the OSCE Office in Tajikistan, including the OSCE Border Management Staff College (BMSC).

Since its inauguration in 2009, the BMSC has proven to be a highly effective and very visible institution among many other successful OSCE activities.  Last year alone, 122 participants from Afghanistan graduated from the BMSC’s courses. Female participants from Afghanistan also attended the Border Management Staff Course organized exclusively for Women Leaders. Afghanistan is interested in further improving the gender ratio of our participants at the BMSC’s courses, and we also highly value long-term training programs with the objective of sustainable outcomes such as “train-the-trainers” programs.

Looking to the Activity Plan for 2016, we see a large number of significant events during the second half of this year and I wish to seize this opportunity to thank Ambassador Müller, BMSC Director Ms. Dita Nowicka and their colleagues in Dushanbe for their excellent work and continued co-operation.  Let me also thank Tajikistan for hosting all these activities as well as all donors for their contributions.

We appreciate that the BMSC, when developing courses, takes into account the fact that a number of challenges are increasingly of transnational nature and interconnected. Terrorism and illicit drugs, trafficking of human beings as well as of arms and weapons and other types of organized crime pose huge challenges to all of us. The OSCE’s Border Security and Management Concept has proven to be an effective tool in addressing these threats, and the respective training programs remain vital means to prepare us for effectively applying this concept.

Let me also re-emphasize that the Government of Afghanistan is highly interested in further expanding our co-operation with Tajikistan and other Central Asian OSCE participating States, and with the OSCE as a whole, with a view to both addressing our common challenges as well as to unlocking existing potentials for regional economic co-operation. In this context, I am pleased to inform you that this morning the work on the CASA-1000 power project — an important regional project — was inaugurated during a ceremony in Dushanbe in the presence of the heads of governments and states of the concerned countries, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, and Tajikistan.

In closing, I wish to state that we would appreciate being increasingly involved in the activities of the organization including training and capacity-building opportunities.

 

Thank you!

 

 

 

Mr. Hassan Soroosh, Counselor and Chargé d’Affaires a.i., Chairs Session on ‘Women, Peace and Security’ during ACUNS Conference

Vienna, 14.01.2016

From January 13-15, 2016 the Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS) held a conference on “New Approaches for a Peaceful and More Sustainable World”. On the second day of the conference, Mr. Hassan Soroosh chaired a session on “Women, Peace and Security” where speakers from various international organizations and NGOs discussed the progress made and challenges faced in the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325. Mr. Soroosh opened the discussion by noting the considerable efforts undertaken across the world including the creation of National Action Plans by many countries as well as various initiatives undertaken across the UN System and beyond to meet the main goals of ‘Prevention, Protection, Participation and Peace Building and Recovery’. During interventions by the speakers of this session, the common idea throughout was a call for the increase in the participation and empowerment of women in peace building and post-conflict recovery as women are a critical for the development of lasting peace. Participants in the audience raised questions including on how to achieve gender balance and what strategies could be applied. Mr. Soroosh closed the session by thanking the speakers for their valuable contributions during the session as well as the participants for their interest in how to further the involvement of women in peace and security efforts.

The conference agenda can be found here.

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Ambassador Erfani Delivers Remarks at Europe – Eurasia Leadership Conference 2015

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Vienna, 30.10.2015

From Friday, October 30th to Saturday, October 31st, the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna hosted the Europe-Eurasia Leadership Conference titled “Eurasia and Europe Dialogue: Building Trust and Securing Cooperation for Sustainable Development”. H.E. Ambassador Erfani was invited to the conference and delivered a statement at the close of Friday’s session. Ambassador Erfani spoke on Afghanistan’s 15 years achievements and focused on “Engaging Women and youth in Afghanistan’s Transformation”. He noted that women and youth in Afghanistan will continue to play an important role in Afghanistan becoming a prosperous and peaceful country. The National Unity Government of Afghanistan is committed to bringing women full equality and security and increasing their involvement in development, government and society. Ambassador Erfani remarked on the importance of the work to be done during Afghanistan’s Decade of Transformation (2015-2024), which will be successful due to the commitment of the men and women of Afghanistan. The goals to be tackled include implementing the constitution for a new agenda and reshaping the country and its status in the region and the world. Ambassador Erfani also remarked on Afghanistan’s importance as a bridge connecting the region and beyond for promoting trade, transit and most importantly connecting people and civilizations.  Ambassador Erfani concluded by saying that women and youth are the best hope for peace, sustainability and development in Afghanistan so that Afghanistan is reedy to play its important role as a bridge in the region.

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Ambassador Erfani speaks at OSCE Asian Contact Group Meeting

11225348_1632973403652128_7738566875833571843_nVienna, 16.10.2015

On October 16th, Ambassador Erfani delivered a presentation on “Afghanistan’s Decade of Transformation and Gender Dynamics” at this year’s final meeting of the OSCE Asian Contact Group. After thanking the group’s Chairperson, Ambassador Claude Wild of Switzerland, for the warm welcome and introduction, Ambassador Erfani provided a brief overview about the historical perspective concerning the situation of women in Afghanistan. The Ambassador then highlighted accomplishments achieved since 2001, including a solid framework of both domestic and international legal instruments, institutional building, political commitment, democratic structures and elections, the role of media, and civil society engagement.

“Despite challenging security conditions in some areas of the country, due to terrorists’ activities, we have managed to enable women to regain their historic role as a powerful force for change and progress in our society,” the Ambassador said. Ambassador Erfani also emphasized the remaining and emerging challenges in the empowerment of women noting that, “Work to improve the situation of women in Afghanistan is in progress, but we accept that there is much more to do.”12111954_1632973400318795_8963704946664707409_n

The Ambassador stated that there is strong commitment by the President of Afghanistan, H.E. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, by the Chief Executive of Afghanistan, H.E. Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, and as a matter of fact by the entire cabinet, to continue the work in improving the situation for women in Afghanistan. Ambassador Erfani also made reference to the important role of the First Lady of Afghanistan, Rula Ghani, in encouraging participation of women in Afghan politics by forming the Women Advisory Board.

Ambassador Erfani noted the important role of the OSCE in advancing women’s rights in Afghanistan and appealed to the international community to continue and expand the support in implementing the legal and political commitments. He concluded with a request to the OSCE and all present to, “Please continue your assistance and we look forward to further broadening and deepening our collaboration with all of you and with a view to accomplishing a stable, prosperous and democratic Afghanistan for all Afghans. Women constitute more than 50% of Afghan society and without their active participation Afghanistan will not be able reach its goal for a stable, democratic and prosperous future”.


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HE Ambassador Erfani Presents at the Austro-American Society

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Vienna, 30.09.2015

On September 30, 2015, HE Ambassador Erfani delivered a presentation on “Afghanistan’s Decade of Transformation (2015-2024): empowerment of women and transnational security aspects”, as part of the 7th Annual Webster/Austro-American Society Distinguished Speakers Series. After giving a brief overview of Afghanistan’s rich history, Ambassador Erfani discussed the challenges of the past few decades that Afghanistan has been working to overcome. He then went on to discuss the achievements made by Afghanistan in the last 15 years. He noted, “Afghanistan, supported by our partners in the international community, has accomplished tremendous achievements including but not limited to: the creation of equal opportunities for all Afghan citizens, men and women; the establishment of a democratic government; holding of democratic elections on all levels; assumption of responsibility from the international forces; expansion of friendly long-term strategic relations with countries in our region and beyond; progress in the health sector and in the infrastructure; provision of education for millions of kids, 40% of whom are girls.”

Ambassador Erfani noted the important role of women and that while challenges still remain to bringing them full equality and security, the National Unity Government of Afghanistan is committed to the equality of women and increasing their involvement in elections, government and society. He went on to say that, “With the beginning of Afghanistan’s Decade of Transformation 2015-2024, we have entered a new era, and we the men and women in Afghanistan are committed to implement the constitution for a new agenda, reshape our country and our status in the region and in the world.” In conclusion, Ambassador Erfani said that, “With the beginning of Afghanistan’s Decade of Transformation 2015-2024, we have entered a new era, and we the men and women in Afghanistan are committed to implement the constitution for a new agenda, reshape our country and our status in the region and in the world… Our women are the best hope for peace, stability and development in our country and without their active participation no one will be able to guarantee Afghanistan’s Transformation to a democratic and properties future.” Ambassador Erfani followed his presentation by holding a question and answer session.

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Minister of Counter Narcotics, Minister Azimi, Meets with Women of the Afghan Community

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Vienna, 17.09.2015

On Saturday, September 12, H.E. Minister Azimi met with women of the Afghan community in Vienna at a reception hosted by H.E. Ambassador Erfani in his residence. At the outset, H.E. Ambassador Erfani welcomed H.E. Minister Aimi and the group of 60 women and emphasized the importance of the empowerment of women in Afghanistan as vital for a prosperous and democratic Afghanistan. Ambassador Erfani introduced Minister Azimi to the intelligent, educated and committed women of the Afghan community based in Vienna and briefed the women gathered on the programs and activities of Minister Azimi during her time in Vienna. Minister Azimi’s programme included visiting Vienna in order to attend and speak at the Organization for Security Cooperation in Europe Conference on Illicit Drugs Among Young People as well as attending a briefing at the VIC where she made a presentation on the ongoing situation in the country. During both meetings, Minister Azimi reaffirmed the commitment of the government of Afghanistan in the fight against drugs.

During her reception with women from the Afghan community, Minister Azimi briefed the participants on the situation in the country for women and children, as well as addicted women and children. Minister Azimi expressed her commitment on behalf of the National Unity Government of Afghanistan to work Afghan people residing in Europe, including on issues relating to further developing rights for women, children in particular those women and children struggling with addiction. She took questions from the women on the rights for women, children, and addicts and entered into an open discussion of how Afghan women abroad can contribute to the well-being of women and children in Afghanistan, particularly those struggling with addiction.

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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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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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The Permanent Mission of Afghanistan hosts a Colloquium on Perspectives on Afghan Women

Vienna, 10.07.2014

Ms Naderi, MP, Ambassador Erfani and Ms Seraj at the panel discussion.

Ms Naderi, MP, Ambassador Erfani and Ms Seraj at the panel discussion.

Today, the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan hosted a colloquium on “Perspectives on Afghan Women: 2014 and beyond”. The event was made possible with the support of the UNODC and ACUNS, and took place at the Vienna International Center.

 

H.E. Ambassador Ayoob Erfani opened the colloquium with a statement which started by thanking the international community for the support it has given to Afghanistan. He also highlighted the growing participation of women in all levels of government and civil society, which was embodied in the two guest panelists, Ms. Farkhunda Naderi, a current member of the Afghan National Assembly, and Ms. Mahbouba Seraj, Executive Board Member and Chair of the Afghan Women’s Network.

 

After a second short welcoming statement by UNODC Director Jean-Luc Lemahieu, Ms. Naderi took the floor, giving a passionate statement which highlighted the progress that Afghanistan has made over the past 13 years, but also its many remaining challenges regarding women’s rights.  She praised the Afghan people on its determination and courage in nourishing democracy, as seen by impressive voter turnout rates, especially for women, in its recent presidential election.

 

Ms. Naderi was followed by Ms. Seraj and gave an equally fervent address entreating the international community to maintain its support for Afghanistan, as democracy in the country “has just taken its first steps and must be allowed to grow”. She also stressed the importance of engaging the youth, calling them the brightest hope for the country’s future.

 

A Q&A session followed, where questions touched on a breadth of topics such as the emerging role of women in the area of security and the sovereignty of Afghanistan and its relationship with the International Community.

 

Ambassador Erfani closed the colloquium by thanking all those who helped organize the event, as well as all participants, stating that this dialogue provided “renewed energy” to continue the conversation about women in Afghanistan and the decade of transformation. He emphasized the role that men also have in improving women’s rights in Afghanistan and reiterated the commitment of the Afghan government to improving the role of women in Afghan society. He concluded by signifying how vital the continued support of the International Community is during this period and the gratitude for their support thus far.

 

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WELCOMING REMARKS BY H.E. AMBASSADOR AYOOB ERFANI AT THE COLLOQUIUM ON “PERSPECTIVES OF AFGHAN WOMEN: 2014 AND BEYOND”

Ambassador Erfani opens the colloquium on Afghan women.

Ambassador Erfani opens the colloquium on Afghan women.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished Colleagues, Dear Friends,

It is my pleasure to welcome you all to this Colloquium on “Perspectives of Afghan Women: 2014 and Beyond”.

I would first of all like to thank the VIC and in particular, the UNODC as well as ACUNS for helping our mission to make this event possible. I appreciate your interest in Afghanistan and in particular your interest in the situation of women in Afghanistan.

The issue of women’s rights and gender mainstreaming is gravely important and one that is close to our heart. Despite Afghanistan’s recent history of decades-long conflict where the women of Afghanistan became the prime victim and regardless of and remaining challenges among them the on-going violence against women, we are in the process of transitioning from three decades of war and transforming into a stable and democratic society.

The post-Taliban Afghanistan, thanks to the commitment of its people and the continued support by our partners in the International community, has made excellent achievements, including on the empowerment of women. The Government of Afghanistan has taken specific steps at the national, regional and international level to meet its obligations to improve the situation of women. We have the most progressive Constitution in the history of Afghanistan, which provides equal rights and duties before the law for both men and women.

Today, Afghan women participate in all levels of society; as members of the executive, judiciary and legislative branches in the Government, as civil society and NGO activists, and as a whole they are actively taking part in the on-going Transition process of Afghanistan to the Transformation Decade.

As in the past, when I have discussed women’s empowerment I have always emphasised that without the active participation of women, who constitute over 50% of the Afghan population, we will be unable to realise our visions for a democratic, stable and peaceful Afghanistan.

It is therefore my privilege to introduce today our two distinguished panelists Ms. Farkhunda Zahra Naderi and Ms. Mahbouba Seraj.

Ms Seraj was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, and graduated from Malalai High School for girls and Kabul University. After 26 years in exile, she returned to Afghanistan at the end of 2003, and has since been working with the women and children of Afghanistan. She is the creator of a radio program for women called “Our Beloved Afghanistan by Mahbouba Seraj” which has been broadcast all over Afghanistan. She is a member of the Afghan Women Coalition Against Corruption and is also Executive Board Member and Chair of the Afghan Women Network or AWN, the biggest women network in Afghanistan.

Ms. Seraj has been a tireless advocate for women’s rights, pushing for women’s participation in the Peace Jirga, as well as in the High Peace Council. She and other women’s rights advocates were responsible in raising women participation at the 2011 Bonn Conference and 2012 Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan.

Ms. Naderi commenced her primary and secondary education in Kabul and Baghlan provinces, and completed her baccalaureate in 2001 in Harrow female High School in the United Kingdom. In 2004, she joined the Law Faculty at the Westminster International University in Tashkent and from 2004 to 2005 she was the representative to the faculty.

Ms. Naderi is currently a member of the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House) of Afghanistan’s Parliament, representing Kabul Province. She has also been a member of the Commission on Women’s Affairs, Human rights and Civil Society and has participated in the IPU Assembly in Geneva, where she was elected the President of the Human Rights & Democracy Committee. She is also the only female to have participated in three consecutive Chantilly Conferences, organized by the Foundation for Strategic Research

Please join me in giving Ms Naderi and Ms Seraj a warm welcome.

 

Thank you, Mr Moderator.