Saturday, April 19, 2014

Opening Remarks By His Excellency Hamid Karzai President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Heart of Asia Ministerial Conference – Kabul

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

 

Excellencies Ministers,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Asalam Alaikum and Good morning!
Most Welcome to today’s meeting in Kabul. We in Afghanistan are privileged to have your presence here today and I am grateful that you took time out of your very busy schedule to be with us and to support and encourage Afghanistan further.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Last year we had a historic Heart of Asia Conference in Istanbul Turkey, a country for centuries so close to Afghanistan and supportive of us in very particular terms in the past ten years, we are grateful to our brothers in Turkey and for their continued support. The Conference today is the 2nd in this direction.

Afghanistan, ladies and gentlemen, as you all are fully aware, after ten years of having received support from NATO, ISAF countries and from our neighbors in the region, has begun the process of transition to Afghan authority which is today in its 3rd phase and the completion of which will bring at least 75 percent of Afghan population under the cover of protection and services provided by the Afghan government.

Dr Ashraf Ghani , the Chairman of this Transition Process oversees the program and we are certain that transition will be completed in 2013 whereby the entire country, the Afghan population, their security , their well-being and matters related to the governance will be handled by the Afghan government alone. Of course, certain measures of support will continue to be provided by our friends in the international community. 2014 will see, as we all know, the complete withdrawal of the international forces in Afghanistan — that is NATO and ISAF. We thank all of you in this room for having provided support to Afghanistan all these years.

 

Ladies and gentlemen,

We were just last month in Chicago in NATO where many of you present around this meeting today pledged support to Afghanistan from 2014 to 2024, a very meaningful support, a substantial support to the Afghan security forces and to other elements of governance in Afghanistan. We are grateful and soon after that we were in China in Beijing for Shanghai Cooperation Council Organization’s meeting, where Afghanistan was accepted as an Observer of the Shanghai Cooperation Council, we are very grateful to China for their support and for welcoming us in their country and for doing all they can, to give Afghanistan a better relationship in this region with our neighbors and beyond.

During the Shanghai Cooperation Council, I found out to my very pleasant surprise , I should say, that the countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Council supported Afghanistan’s engagement with the international community, supported the pledges and the cooperation extended to us during Chicago NATO summit and in particular , in my meetings with President Hu Jintao and President Putin. Both the leaders expressed their support and understanding of the relationship that Afghanistan has evolved with the international community and after partnership deals signed with various allies of ours in the international community, the support from these global powers and our neighbors is very important to Afghanistan and the continued progress of Afghanistan towards stability and economic development. In deed, it is Afghanistan where there is cooperation of all of us, countries in the region, the neighbors and our allies in NATO and ISAF that will bring stability not only to Afghanistan but the much needed relief from terrorism and radicalism and violence to more stability and peace and progress in this region.

 

So in deed, as the heart of Asia, Afghanistan wishes to be and is seeing the signs of a more cooperative environment in Afghanistan and in the region. In this process of Afghanistan moving towards a complete transition and stability and progress from 2014 to 2024, one of the most important elements of success and for our endeavors towards that success is the successful completion of the peace process that we have launched two years ago under the leadership of Shaheed President Burhanuddin Rabbani and all of us around this meeting today have a responsibility in this regard, some in one form, others in other forms.

Mr. Salahuddin Rabbani the current Chairman of the Peace Council of Afghanistan will be very soon visiting our brothers in Saudi Arabia,  from there, subsequently, he will visit our brothers in Pakistan, his Majesty Khadim ul-Haramain ul-Sharifain [King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia] has been a guiding leader for us through all these difficult years in Afghanistan and since his Majesty has his representative here , I would request humbly that Khadim ul-Haramain ul-Sharifain’s support and guidance continue in the peace process of Afghanistan so that this country can see the reconciliation process that brings an end to violence in Afghanistan. We also very much hope that our brothers and sisters in Pakistan will do the same with us, we are already engaged in a serious and deep dialogue with our neighbors in Pakistan as well, our relations in this neighborhood and in this region have been against some of the contradictions that exist today in the international relations, prevailing international relations.

 

Afghanistan has fortunately so far been successful in maintaining equilibrium of relationship; we, by all means, intend to continue this, we have signed a strategic partnership deal with the United States of America and with Germany, with France, with Italy, with the United Kingdom and Europe, we have signed a strategic partnership deal with India in this region, these partnership deals will not reduce from our relations with our neighbors, but we rather hope that these partnerships add to the positive aspect of our relations with our neighbors, our brothers in Iran have been a steadfast supporter of Afghanistan for the past many years and Afghanistan wishes the continuation of this brotherly cooperative relationship as I am sure will come to us from our brothers in Iran and we hope that our partners in the west and particularly  in the United States and others will recognize that Afghanistan is in this neighborhood and has to live in peace and prosperity with its neighbors and with the countries in this region.

 

Ladies and gentlemen,

From Bonn, from the very successful conference in Bonn, with a great, gracious hospitality of Germany , we would be moving in two to three weeks time to Tokyo, where Japan as always will be a gracious and generous host to an Afghan conference for the economic development in Afghanistan. Afghanistan will be presenting a vision for its economic future to the Tokyo Conference , a strategy for its economic development in the Tokyo Conference, I am sure , if not all of the ladies and gentlemen here but the majority of you will be present in the Tokyo Conference.

 

I hope that you continue to support Afghanistan’s efforts towards prosperity and economic well-being and in our view that well-being will come only when Afghanistan domestic economic growth is stronger, when Afghanistan begins to produce of its own soil and gain further economic prosperity and from the opportunities that exist in Afghanistan, that brings us to business and investment in Afghanistan that I hope, all of you will take the opportunity to invest in. China was the first country to invest in Afghanistan followed by others in the region and from our friends in the international community, we are grateful for those investments  and make sure that we provide all the protection and all the incentives that we can possibly provide under any circumstances , so that these investments are not only profitable and with dividends to those who have invested but also bring the much needed progress economically to the Afghan people and an economy that is self sustaining and moving towards a better future.

 

Ladies and gentlemen,

I welcome you once again to today’s meeting and I thank all of you for your participation and Afghanistan would assure you that Afghanistan recognizes out of a grim experience of the past that it is only in stability and harmony and peace in this region that Afghanistan can prosper and be stable  and your contributions towards this objective are of immense importance whether you are in our neighborhood or in our near neighborhood or farther away from us, your participation has been of immense importance to Afghanistan, I thank all of you , international organizations and the countries for having had the patience to be here with Afghanistan.

Now that Afghanistan has gotten the support and pledges from the international community that it was expecting, it is our job for the next two years when I will still be in office to undertake a fundamentally stronger activity towards improved , better governance in Afghanistan, I will be calling a special joint session of the parliament next Thursday to discuss Afghanistan’s needs towards improved governance and the steps that we must take so that in the next two years, we prepare the ground better for the next President and the next government to start on a better footing and on a firmer fundamental in Afghanistan, I thank you very, very much for your attention and hope, you will have a pleasant and happy stay in Kabul. I am sure you will be busy but I hope, it will also be pleasant and happy.

 

Thank you very much!