Friday, August 22, 2014

Statement of H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan at the Annual Coordination Meeting of the OIC

Mr. Chairman,

Thank you for convening today’s annual coordination meeting of the OIC.  Let me first convey the best wishes of the people and Government of Afghanistan to all esteemed participants.  We thank Kazakhstan for its chairmanship of our organization, and reassure you, Mr. Chairman, of our full support in the way forward!

I join previous speakers in expressing pleasure at the presence of H.E. Ekmeleddin Ehsanoghlu, Secretary General of the OIC among us.   And we thank him for his fortitude and commitment to the overall success of our organization.

Mr. Chairman,

We meet at a time in which our Ummah, and the rest of the world, are still faced with a multitude of challenges, threatening our collective well-being.  Over the past year, we have seen armed conflicts escalate; poverty and destitution persist; and humanitarian crises strike at alarming rates.  Regrettably, these challenges have threatened the well-being of millions of our brothers and sisters worldwide.

The gravity of the situation calls for a renewed commitment.  We must work continue to give priority to the implementation of the Ten Year Plan of Action.  Doing so will help us revitalize our organization’s role in the pursuit of a more safe and prosperous world order.  We must harness the true potential in light of our strength as the second largest inter-governmental organization.

As a founding member of the OIC, Afghanistan has always attached high importance to the work of our organization. We have for long and consistently maintained a policy of brotherhood, solidarity and harmony with all members of our organization.  We will continue this path, and stand in support of our brothers and sisters as they venture to realize their national aspirations.

Mr. Chairman,

In relation to the situation in Afghanistan, I have the pleasure to note that, since my address to last year’s annual coordination meeting, Afghanistan has taken epic steps towards securing the vision we set out eleven years ago:  an Afghanistan which is fully stable and prosperous, and able to meet its own needs.   To that effect, the Transition Process, commenced in July of last year, is being implemented steadily.  Stage 3 of the process will be completed by November of this year – by which 75 percent of the Afghan population’s security will be provided by Afghan soldiers and police officers. We are on track to meet our overall goal of full security responsibility by the middle of 2013 and the full implementation of the transition process by the end of 2014.

The people of Afghanistan are enthusiastic about our long-term partnership with our international friends.  Alongside the security effort, we are working diligently on the development and governance pillars of Transition. The Tokyo Conference this July put in place a solid framework of cooperation for Afghanistan’s sustainable growth and economic development for years to come.  We are grateful for the participation of a significant number of brotherly countries from the OIC in Tokyo; and we count on the continued support of the organization in the way forward.

Mr. Chairman,

Afghanistan’s reconciliation efforts have gained momentum.  The work of the High Peace Council has been revitalized with the appointment of its new Chair; the Council is busily engaged in comprehensive outreach both inside and outside Afghanistan.  Having concluded its visit to Saudi Arabia, a high-level delegation of the Council, headed by Chairman Salahuddin Rabbani, will soon visit Pakistan for result-oriented discussions on ways to move the peace process forward.  We are particularly grateful for the OIC’s support for the success of our reconciliation efforts and call on member states to do whatever they can to help us realize the aspiration and right of the Afghan people for a lasting and just peace.

Mr. Chairman,

Despite our progress on various fronts, the challenges facing Afghanistan are many, and they are daunting.  The people of Afghanistan are still witness to a brutal cycle of violence, orchestrated and carried out by the enemies of peace in our country.  These are elements who cannot tolerate seeing us fulfill our quest for peace and prosperity.  Afghanistan is a proud and resilient nation that has overcome enormous challenges throughout its history.  As part of our experience, we have been at the forefront in the global fight against terrorism for over a decade now.  We have made great sacrifices, and suffered immensely in our struggle – indeed more than any other country in the world. Nonetheless, we are steadfast in our commitment to eliminate terrorism from our society, and renew our call for sincere and practical joint efforts to eliminate this deadly menace from our region and the wider world.

Mr. Chairman,

Far too often, terrorists seek to justify their actions under the pretext of Islam. As a result, terrorism is unjustly associated with our religion. The OIC, as an organization representing our Ummah, must act in unity to combat Islamophobia.  As called for in the OIC’s Ten Year Plan of Action, we must enhance dialogue on ways to better emphasize the core values of Islam, namely peace, tolerance, understanding and co-existence.   Undoubtedly, a successful fight against terrorism will not be achieved without a concerted international effort.  We welcome recent steps taken towards the establishment of the international center on combating terrorism, paving the way for greater international collaboration.

Afghanistan deplores in the strongest terms the production of the recent derogatory film, insulting the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), and the core values of Islam.  We reiterate our long-held position that freedom of speech should, by no means, be interpreted as a green light for defamation of prophets, religions and beliefs.  By the same token, we should not allow such acts to undermine our shared goal of mutual respect and peaceful co-existence among all religions and civilizations.

Mr. Chairman,

The overall situation in the Middle East remains demands our urgent attention.   Achieving a just and peaceful resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is long overdue.   Afghanistan stands in full solidarity with the Palestinian people in their quest for their national rights, including the right to an independent Palestinian state.  We also support all efforts of the Palestinian leadership to become a full member of the United Nations family.

With regard to Syria, we are deeply saddened by the untold sufferings brought upon the people of that country by the ongoing cycle of violence.  We are convinced that a more proactive role by the OIC would help achieve a lasting resolution to the Syrian conflict.  The appointment of H.E. Lakhtar Brahimi, as the new Joint UN-Arab League Special Envoy for Syria, is a timely development, which provides new hope for the restoration of a durable peace in Syria.  It goes without saying that the role of the OIC remains essential in helping to end the conflict in that country.

Meanwhile, in Mali, increased acts of terrorism have led to serious concerns that the situation in that country is deteriorating.  And in Myanmar, we are deeply concerned about the plight of the Rohingya people in Myanmar, who are facing an unjustifiable humanitarian catastrophe.  Rohingya Muslims have for long been rightful citizens of Myanmar, playing an important role in the social, economic and political life of the country.

We must fulfill our moral responsibility as an organization in enabling them to regain their historic and rightful place and legal status in that country.

Mr. Chairman,

In view of the multitude of challenges facing our Ummah, we cannot overemphasize the importance of dialogue, and cooperation for effective solutions in overcoming them.  Afghanistan is convinced that such collaboration, conducted in a spirit of solidarity and harmony, will be an asset in furthering our collective goals.

In that context, we thank, once again, His Majesty King Abdullah, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, for his initiative in convening the fourth Islamic Solidarity Summit of the OIC last month in Makkah-Al-Mukkaramah.  Afghanistan was a proud participant at that historic gathering; and we reiterate our full support of the Summit’s outcome, including the adoption of the four resolutions on the situations in Syria, Palestine, Myanmar and Mali.

Mr. Chairman,

I wish to also reiterate Afghanistan’s appreciation to the OIC for its solidarity with and support for Afghanistan as we continue our journey towards self-reliance, a lasting peace and prosperity.

I thank you!

Statement by H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul Minister of Foreign Affairs at the High Level Side Event on New Deal:

Statement by H.E.  Dr. Zalmai Rassoul Minister of Foreign Affairs  at the High Level Side Event on New Deal:

g7+ Perspectives and Experience

67th United General Assembly

 

Opening Remarks

Excellencies,

On behalf of the Government of the Islamic republic of Afghanistan as the co-host, it is my pleasure and privilege to welcome you to the High Level Side Event on The New Deal: g7+ perspectives and experiences. It is a pleasure to see the level of support and the momentum which the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States is gaining after it was endorsed in November 2011 during the 4th High Level forum on Aid Effectiveness held in Bussan last year. This global recognition is indeed a result of the efforts of the g7+ countries and their partners.

Arena setting

Ladies and gentlemen, Afghanistan has received generous support over the past decade for its development and reconstruction. There have been noteworthy achievements in the areas of security and economic development since 2001, when we started our journey towards a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan. We started this journey with weak institutions, poor infrastructure and with almost no formal economy. But despite all these hardships and challenges, we are now equipped with trained national security forces; access to basic health care services has improved; national highways and roads have been rebuilt; and telecoms and other hard and soft infrastructure facilities have been established. Of equal importance, our institutional and public sector reforms have advanced. This was indeed possible with the generous financial and technical support of our development partners.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, despite the tremendous achievements we have had, Afghanistan is one of the g7+ member countries which is lagging behind the goal of  materialization of MDGs (Millennium Development Goals). Despite sizable development aid invested in governance and capacity building, we continue to depend on external technical assistance. We can only cover some 60% of our operating expenditures through our domestic revenue. Our private sector is yet to realize its potential to become the engine of growth and absorb an emerging workforce. Our security sector needs to be further strengthened to take over the responsibility of protecting our people after 2014. In view of the perceived reduction in development aid during the decade of transformation, we have taken steps to bolster our domestic revenues and provide essential services to our citizens.

 

Longer and sustainable partnership:

Excellencies, sustained international engagement in development of g7+ countries is a necessity. But this engagement shall aim to support nationally owned and nationally led agenda for development. We presented our vision in the “Towards Self Reliance” strategy paper at the International Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan in July 2012. To fulfill this vision, we have developed our partnership agenda “The Aid Management Policy” in consultation with our development partners and reaffirmed our commitment to implementing critical reforms and promote accountability and transparency in the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework.  However, the key milestone of success in our partnership will be the extent to which our partners are willing and able to align their development efforts to our shared strategy. Being mindful of our budding institutional capacity, our partnership needs to be based on mutual trust which could involve sharing the burden of managing development aid and sharing the risks of engagement in fragile and conflict affected environments.  This is the only way to reach our common goals.  There is, therefore, a need for bold and mutual decisions by all our partners.

g7+ countries and post 2015

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen:

We are on the verge of 2015, when we will be reviewing our millennium development agenda. The progress made so far across the g7+ countries in terms of achievement of the millennium goals should be an important part of our review agenda and will be crucial in formulating our next steps. Since 2000, and despite the investment of nearly 30% of all development aid in conflict affected countries, we still have a long way to go.  These countries are still threatened by conflict, violence and poverty and suffer from humanitarian crises. The next phase of the millennium development agenda should focus more on strengthening the very core of functional foundations which are the pillars of Peacebuilding and Statebuilding. Only then, will we be able to observe the result of our efforts. Drawing upon the context of the g7+ countries, the Peacebuilding and Statebuilding goals should be fabricated in the next phase of our global development agenda.

Excellencies, I would like to conclude by thanking you all for your support for the vision of the g7+ which has been articulated in the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States. We are confident that with the realization of the New Deal, we can reach a brighter future through our shared efforts.

Thank you

Statement By H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan at the Least Developed Countries Ministerial Meeting

Mr. Chairman,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 I begin by conveying the warm greetings of the people and Government of Afghanistan. We convey our thanks and gratitude to the Government of the Republic of Nepal for leading our Group successfully.  We congratulate Mr.  Gyan Chandra Acharya for his recent appointment as Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries, and Small Island Developing States. We are confident that his able leadership will guide us toward achieving our common goals. We also extend our congratulations to the Republic of Benin on its election as the next Chair. Let me assure you of my government’s full support.

Mr. Chairman,

Today’s meeting comes at an important moment, a little over a year since the adoption of the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPOA). The landmark event marked a milestone in our joint efforts: ridding from our societies the scourges of poverty, hunger, illiteracy, unemployment and other ills effecting the well-being and prosperity of our citizens. No one has questioned the challenges associated with implementing the goals of the Istanbul Program of Action. Nevertheless, we are convinced that, with resolute commitment, and determined efforts our success is inevitable.

Mr. Chairman,

 

The Afghanistan of today is one, which has transformed for the better over the past decade. Following the collapse of the Taliban regime, and the start of our partnership with our international friends in 2001, we began our state-building efforts, geared towards a vision that sees our citizens living in peace and security, and having what is necessary to lead dignified and prosperous lives.  To realize that vision, we have undertaken enormous measures, within the framework of the Afghan National Development Strategy (ANDS), leading to significant achievements in numerous areas, including, but not limited to, the health and education sectors, the growth of our economy, and the strengthening of our infrastructure.

 

For several decades, but particularly in recent years, my Government has sought to advance regional stability and prosperity by restoring Afghanistan’s central role as a land bridge between Central Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and the Far East- for the exchange of commerce, culture, and ideas.

 

Mr. Chairman,

 

Afghanistan is making steady progress in the transition process for self-reliance in the security, governance and development fields. In the context of our state-building efforts, Afghanistan will continue to require sustained international support in the long-term.

Two months ago in Tokyo, Afghanistan and the international community came together to re-define the nature of our partnership. In adopting the “Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework” we have put in place a clear structure that will benefit a more result oriented partnership and cooperation. We are particularly pleased with the international community’s expressed readiness to align aid with our National Priority Programs (NPPs), and channel assistance through the Afghan budget.

 

Moving towards Transformation Decade, the new Afghanistan still face many development challenges. It is obvious the achieving peace, stability, and prosperity require a better security environment in our cities, villages, and borders. And, as we all know, achieving the goal of creating a better security environment in highly dependent on economic and human development as well as on good governance. Our strategic vision towards self-reliance Afghanistan for the transformation decade is the result of our commitments to tackle those challenges.

 

Mr. Chairman,

 

Since late last year, the series of conferences beginning with Istanbul in November, followed by Bonn in December, Dushanbe in March, Chicago in May, and last June’s Heart of Asia Ministerial meeting in Kabul, have demonstrated the region and international community’s unequivocal political and economic support for Afghanistan’s rebirth as a confident, stable, and reliable hub for regional trade and transit at a key interchange in Asia: the world’s most dynamic region.

 

Together, these building blocks have served Afghanistan and its citizens well in terms of facilitating the regional bonds for economic exchange, political cooperation, and cultural understanding.

 

In this regard, the November 2011 initiated “Istanbul Process”, and its 43 regional confidence-building measures, acknowledges the need for a substantive political dialogue to ensure that steps to integrate the national economies of the region are sustained and made durable. Given the long road ahead in the remainder of the “Transition Period” (until 2014) and “Transformation Decade” (2015-2024), the need for mutually reinforcing economic, political, and security-building efforts becomes even more urgent as Afghanistan charts an unequivocally regional future.

 

We perceive regional economic cooperation as a key element of our broader efforts to strengthen relations, mutual respect, and trust between Afghanistan and its many neighbors.

 

Mr. Chairman,

 

With three years left for attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), despite our efforts and progress, our group is faced with serious obstacles in meeting our stated goals.  Among the many factors hindering our progress, include multiple global crises of climate change, natural disasters, the global financial and economic crises, as well as food insecurity.  Given our special situation, LDCs require special and particular focus and attention from the international community.  Afghanistan, underscores, in this connection, the necessary increase in Official Development Assistance (ODA) by our partners in the developed world to help us realize our national and millennium development goals.

 

In addition, we insist that donors take into consideration the principle of ownership of recipient countries, reducing the allocation of ODA outside of government systems and instead channeling more funds through core budgets and trust funds. Additional measures are required for ensuring the efficiency and transparency of such aid.  This could be achieved through greater coordination among the donor community.

 

A sound and effective agriculture sector is vital for our development and prosperity.  The overwhelming majority of LDCs rely on agricultural productivity, as a key component of a self-sufficient economy.  In this connection, due consideration on the part of our international partners should be accorded.

 

Without any doubt, the effects of climate change are among the dominant threats facing our common development and prosperity.  Too often, natural disasters, whether in the form of mudslides and flooding or drought have devastated our infrastructure, and agriculture. As members of LDCs, we must come together for a strong common position on issues related to climate change and environmental degradation.

 

Mr. Chairman,

 

Afghanistan further supports the LDC’s position on the need for strengthening the Global System of Trade Preferences among developing countries (GSTP), and increasing the volume of development assistance and financial flows, technology transfer, and duty-free, quota-free market access being provided by countries of the South to LDCs. We welcome such initiatives and call for other members in the South to do the same.

 

Mr. Chairman,

 

Afghanistan welcomes the outcome document of United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development which was held from 20 to 22 June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Conference was a historic event in garnering a renewed commitment for effective strategies to promote global prosperity, reduce poverty, advance social equity and protect our environment.

 

We also call upon the international community to seize this opportunity to strengthen the coordination and coherence between the United Nations system and all other multilateral financial, trade and development institutions to support economic growth, poverty eradication and sustainable development in the LDCs.

 

In conclusion, let me reiterate Afghanistan’s steadfast commitment to advancing the goals of the Istanbul Declaration and Programme of Action and repeat our assurances of our highest consideration and closest cooperation in working with all of you.

 

Thank you.