Sunday, November 23, 2014

Statement of H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan at the Heart of Asia Ministerial – Kabul

Kabul, 14 June 2012 — DRAFT

Your Excellency President Karzai,

My Esteemed Co-Chair, Your Excellency Foreign Minister Davotuglu,

Excellencies foreign ministers and heads of delegation from the Heart of Asia countries and the supporting countries to the Istanbul Process,

Distinguished delegates, dear guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen:

At the outset, let me once again extend my personal and the Afghan foreign government’s collective warm welcome and heartfelt thanks to everyone of you for travelling from near and far to attend today’s historic Heart of Asia Conference in Kabul. It is my sincere hope that your stay in Kabul is both fruitful and enjoyable and that you will take home with you a positive outcome for our deliberations here today and some nice memories from your visit. We are truly privildged to be able to bring together such an august company of leaders in a spirit of friendship, openness and cooperation to discuss the crucial need for sincere, result-oriented cooperation in this critical region, at this critical juncture.

I also wanted to reiterate the gratitude of the Afghan government to the Turkish government and to my brother Foreign Minister Davotuglu personally for Turkey’s leading role in the Istanbul Process and for an exemplary hosting of the Istanbul Conference for Afghanistan: Security and Cooperation in the Heart of Asia of November 2, 2011, the first conference in the Istanbul Process, an effort we regard with hope and a sense of renewed promise for a future of real peace, security, stability and prosperity in this region.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

A quick glance back at the past few months since our gathering in Istanbul makes it abundantly clear that this process has been more successful, more productive and enjoyed much stronger ownership and support by the participating countries than just about anybody expected, especially those outside our region. In our view, the Istanbul Process is one of the most meaningful, the most concrete and the most promising effort at realizing the vision of sincere, result-oriented cooperation among countries of the Heart of Asia region at least over the past one decade!

There are several characteristics to this unprecedented success of the Istanbul Process. I’ll enumrate only some of the more salient of these characteristics that we’ve observed over the past several months of preparations for today’s conference.

First, and as reflected by His Excellency President Karzai a few minutes ago, there is a more intimate, far greater and far clearer understanding of the intertwined nature of both the challenges and problems but also the great potential and opportunities in our region. It is today impossible to compartmentalize our notions of peace and security for our individual countries – to think, for example, that terrorist sanctuaries in one country or terrorist attacks in another country will not affect both the short- and long-term peace, security and stability of the entire region. It is also equally inconceivable to expect that we in Afghanistan will be able to single-handedly tackle the scourge of narcotics because there are key factors and actors beyond our borders that play a central role in the continued existence of this shared menace.

It is also evident that if allowed to unleash, this region’s truly tremendous potential in human and natural resources; trade, transit and investment; services and other fields can not only tranform the lives of the peoples of this region for the better but significantly contribute to security and prosperity in the broader world.

Second, the Istanbul Process fo far has made clear that if we can muster the will and the commitment, the countries in this region are more than capable of finding workable, consensus-driven solutions for the region’s common challenges and problems.

 

For the first time in ten years, we have agreed to a set of concrete confidence building measures that will take us from rhetoric to action. The seven confidence building measures proposed for adoption in this Conference’s final declaration – agreed to through several high-level preparatory meetings among senior officials from the Heart of Asia countries – cover such areas of cooperation as counter-terrorism, counter-narcotics, disaster management, strengthening links among national chambers of commerce, educational and cultural cooperation.

Third, there is strong consensus-driven support from all Heart of Asia countries for our collective decision to follow-up our deliberations and discsusions first in Istanbul and now here through regular consultations among our senior officials and at least once a year at the level of foreign ministers. This in our view is another clear demonstration of our real commitment to making tangible, concrete progress on the confidence building measures we’ve agreed to implement.

Fourth, just as there is strong consensus on the ownership of this process by the participating countries, there is broad and firm support among us for the role of the supporting countries and organizations, represented around this table. The high-level presence of the diverse group of supporters of the Istanbul Process today is a clear sign of the importance and significance of this effort. The presence of supporters underscores the interconnectedness of our world and how security and stability and development in one region, especially in the Heart of Asia region, directly affects security and development worldwide.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Another key element of the Istanbul Process is creating ever closer linkages, coordination and synergy in the Afghanistan-related efforts of regional organizations. Afghanistan is a member of most of these organizations. We believe each one of these organizations have a critical role to play and we’re very happy to have them on board. In this connection, let me reiterate the Afghan government’s satisfaction with our new status as observer country at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and underline our deep gratitude to all SCO member states for their support and welcome.

The participation of the United Nations has been a key pillar of the Istanbul Process.

We the participating countries are all members of the UN and I believe it’s role gives the process greater legitimacy and effectiveness. In particular, we are grateful for the contributions of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) so far, which have been significant and constructive.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Let me repeat myself one more time: we’re more hopeful and more optimistic about making tangible progress on regional cooperation with this Istanbul Process than any other effort so far over the past ten years. Any step we take towards implementing our shared vision within the Istanbul Process will not only be good for peace, security and stability in Afghanistan; real progress on regional cooperation is essential for peace and security in our region.

We in Afghanitan are also determined to reclaim our rightful place in this region – not as an issue, a topic or a problem. Rather, we want to play the role of a regional convenor, connector and mediator in improving confidence and cooperation in the Heart of Asia. We’ve been first in suffering the consequences of a lack of confidence and fragmentation in this region, which has in turn had a direct bearing on peace and security in the region. So, dear friends, Afghanistan’s sincere and real commitment to the Istanbul Process comes from self-interest that is tied to the interests of the region around us.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

We all realize that patience is a virture in this collective effort, especially in a region grappling with the legacy and present reality of some real challenges and problems. But we’ll be judged – and I think fairly so – by the steady, concrete progress of our work on taking this crucial process forward one step at a time. We will be watched and judeged by each other, by those supporting us and others. It is, therefore, our fervent hope that we’ll all maintain the perserverance, patience but also farsightedness in moving this process forward.

I thank you all very much for your attention and wish us all a successful conference!

 

 

 

 

 

UN General Assembly Elects New President and Vice-Presidents

 

The General Assembly on Friday morning (8 June) elected Vuk Jeremić, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia, as President of its sixty-seventh session, voting by secret ballot for the first time in more than 20 years.

 

Mr. Jeremić defeated Dalius Čekuolis, Lithuanian Ambassador to the United Nations, by a vote of 99 to 85.  The selection of the Assembly President traditionally follows the system of geographical rotation, with respective regional groups, in this case Eastern European States, putting forward a consensus candidate each year.  If a group cannot reach consensus on a single nominee, the door is open for a rare secret-ballot vote.  The last time it occurred was in 1991, when the Group of Asian States nominated three candidates.   

 

The meeting also marked the election of Vice-Presidents from the different regions of the world for the 67th session of the General Assembly. Afghanistan was elected as one of the five Vice- presidents from Asia Group. H. E. Zahir Tanin will represent the country in this position.  Previously, Ambassador Tanin served as a Vice-President of the 63rd and 65th Sessions of the General Assembly.

 

The Vice-Presidents for the sixty-seventh session are: Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Bangladesh, China, Congo, France, Ghana, Honduras, Israel, Lebanon, Nepal, Netherlands, Palau, Peru, Russian Federation, Sierra Leone, Trinidad & Tobago, United Kingdom, the United States.

 

The President informed delegates that the election of an additional vice president from among the African States would take place at a later date.

 

For Afghanistan, this is a significant achievement to serve as Vice-President of the United Nations General Assembly for the 3rd time in the last five years.  The Permanent Representative of Afghanistan is also currently serving as Chair of the Inter-Governmental Negotiations on Security Council Reform in his fourth consecutive General Assembly session in this role.

 

Afghanistan has already presented its candidature to the main body of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations for the terms 2016-2018 and is also a candidate for the President of the 75th session of the General Assembly and a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for the terms of 2021-2022.

Joint Declaration Between The People’s Republic of China And The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

Joint Declaration Between The People’s Republic of China and The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

on Establishing Strategic and Cooperative Partnership

 

At the invitation of President Hu Jintao of the People’s Republic of China, President Hamid Karzai of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan visited China to participate in the 12th Meeting of the Council of State Heads of Shanghai Cooperation Organization Member Countries on 5-8 June 2012, and had a bilateral meeting with President Hu Jintao on 8 June. In a candid and friendly atmosphere, the two leaders had in-depth exchange of views on bilateral relations, regional and international issues of common interest and reached broad consensus.

The two leaders reviewed the history of China-Afghanistan relations in an all-round way, and agreed that, since the establishment of diplomatic ties on 20 January 1955, the two countries have abided by the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence and treated each other with mutual respect, trust and support, deepening the traditional friendship. In 2002, Afghanistan launched its peace and reconstruction process, and a new chapter of China- Afghanistan relations has been opened since. With increasing mutual political trust and expanding cooperation, our Comprehensive and Cooperative Partnership featuring good-neighborliness and friendship has enjoyed smooth development.

The two leaders agreed that the regional and international situation is undergoing profound and complex changes. In order to jointly tackle challenges and uphold regional peace, stability and development, the two countries should view and develop the bilateral relations from a strategic and long-term perspective. For this purpose, the two countries decided to establish the China-Afghanistan Strategic and Cooperative Partnership, and assigned their respective Ministries of Foreign Affairs to take lead in formulating an Action Plan for implementing the China-Afghanistan Strategic and Cooperative Partnership.

As for the content and basic principles of this Strategic and Cooperative Partnership, the People’s Republic of China and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (hereinafter referred to as the “two sides”) hereby state as follows:

1. The two sides would like to establish China-Afghanistan Strategic and Cooperative Partnership on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence, in line with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and widely recognized norms of international laws, as well as the basic principles for bilateral relations enshrined in the Treaty of Good-neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation Between the People’s Republic of China and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan signed in 2006 and other bilateral documents.

The two sides agreed that the Strategic and Cooperative Partnership will be an enduring and comprehensive relationship between the two nations which will serve the fundamental interests of two countries and peoples, facilitate the efforts to consolidate the traditional friendship of the two countries, expand cooperation in various fields, including political, economic, cultural and security.  The China-Afghanistan Strategic and Cooperative Partnership will also contribute to the peace, security, stability and development in the region and beyond.

 

2. The two sides agreed that their cooperation in the political, economic, cultural and security fields, as well as on regional and international affairs, are the five pillars that will underpin the China-Afghanistan Strategic and Cooperative Partnership.

 

3. The two sides believed that high-level exchanges are of special significance to   the growth of the bilateral relations and political mutual trust is the foundation of the China-Afghanistan relations. The two sides will actively promote the exchanges between their leaders, including arranging meetings between the leaders on the sidelines of international and multilateral occasions, where they will be able to exchange views on the bilateral relations and major international and regional issues and enhance strategic communications. The two sides will further promote the exchanges and cooperation between the two governments, legislatures and political parties, with a view to increasing mutual understand and trust.

The two sides have undertaken to firmly support each other on issues concerning national sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity, and not allow their respective territory to be used for any activities targeted against the other side. The Afghan side reaffirmed that it is committed to the one-China policy, and that government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole China. It expressed its firm support for China’s positions on the Taiwan, Tibet-related, Xinjiang-related and other major issues concerning China’s core interests. The Chinese side reaffirmed its commitment to respect Afghanistan’s independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity, and reiterate its respect for Afghan people’s choice of development path suited to their national conditions, and its support for the national reconciliation process in Afghanistan. The Chinese side believed that, with the determination of the Afghan people, as well as support and cooperation from its regional and international partners, Afghanistan will achieve peace, stability and development at an early date.

 

4. The two sides agreed that, on the basis of the Agreement Between the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Government of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan on Trade and Economic Cooperation signed in 2006, they will continue to explore new channels and methods to expand bilateral trade and investment and deepen economic cooperation. The two sides agreed to continually strengthen the pragmatic cooperation in such fields as resources and energy development, infrastructure development, engineering and agriculture. The Chinese side reaffirmed its support for the peaceful reconstruction process in Afghanistan. It will as always provide assistance to Afghanistan within the realm of its capabilities, and continue to encourage capable Chinese enterprises to participate in the construction and development of Afghanistan. The Chinese side announced that Chinese government will provide 150 million RMB grant to the Afghan government during 2012. The Afghan side appreciated China’s selfless assistance for Afghan peace and reconstruction over the years, and thanked the Chinese side for the new pledge of assistance.

 

5. The two sides pointed out that China and Afghanistan have a long history of friendly exchanges and traditional friendship. The people-to- people exchange enjoy sound foundation and are of great significance. The two sides will work vigorously to promote exchanges and cooperation in the cultural, educational, health, media and other fields, carry out people-to-people exchanges in various forms to further enhance understanding and friendship between the two peoples. The two sides will create favorable conditions for deepening and expanding the above-mentioned exchanges and cooperation. The Chinese side will continue to train the Afghan technical personnel, provide opportunities, including government-sponsored scholarships, to more Afghan youths to study in China, in an effort to support the development of Afghanistan.

 

6. The two sides expressed strong rejection of all forms of terrorism, extremism, separatism and organized crimes. The two sides agreed to intensify exchanges and cooperation in security by way of jointly combating such transnational threats as terrorism, illegal immigration, illegal arms and drug trafficking, and enhancing intelligence exchanges and border management. The two sides will also strengthen cooperation in prevention of infectious diseases, disaster prevention and reduction, and other non-traditional security areas. The Chinese side firmly supports Afghanistan’s efforts in combating terrorism and drug trafficking and safeguarding national stability, and calls on the international community to support this cause. The Afghan side reiterated its continued and firm support for China in combating the “three forces” of terrorism, extremism and separatism. It will take tangible measures to enhance the security of Chinese institutions and people in Afghanistan.

 

7. The two sides pointed out that facing the profound and complex changes in regional and international situation, China and Afghanistan will enhance coordination and cooperation under the United Nations and other multilateral frameworks, stay in contacts and coordinate positions on major regional and international issues. The two sides will further the coordination and cooperation in SARRC. The Chinese side welcomes a bigger role played by Afghanistan in the SCO, including in its new role as an observer country, supports Afghanistan’s efforts in improving and developing its relations with regional countries.  The two sides also emphasise their commitment to continue their cooperation within the Istanbul Process, which helps build confidence at the regional level in support of peace, stability and development in Afghanistan and the regional as a whole.

8. The establishment of China-Afghanistan Strategic and Cooperative Partnership is aimed to further deepen the traditional friendship and cooperation between the two countries. Both sides will fully respect and accommodate regional countries’ reasonable concerns and interests, and work to promote regional peace, stability and development. This Partnership is not directed against any third party.

 

9. President Hamid Karzai expressed appreciation for President Hu Jintao’s invitation for him to participate in the 12th Meeting of the Council of State Heads of SCO Member Countries and visit China and congratulated China on the success of the meeting.

 

Beijing, 8 June 2012