Thursday, April 17, 2014

Statement by H.E. Hamid Karzai, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan at the 12th Summit Meeting of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO)

بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم

 

Your Excellency President Ilham Heydar Oglu Aliyev,

 

Excellencies Heads of state and governments,

 

Distinguished delegates,

 

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to have the opportunity to address the 12th Summit Meeting of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) in the beautiful city of Baku. I would like to thank Turkey, particularly my brother, H.E. Prime Minister Rajib Tayb Urgoghan for the effective chairmanship of the ECO summit in the past two years.

At the outset, allow me to congratulate my brother, H.E. President Ilham Aliyev on his election as the Chairman of the summit and to express my gratitude and that of my delegation to the people of Azerbaijan for the warm and generous hospitality extended to us.

 

Also, I thank the Secretariat of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) and its working groups for their hard work in preparing the required documents and proposals that have facilitated the discussions among the member states.

 

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen!

Historically, geographically as well as culturally, Afghanistan remains an inseparable member of the two regions, Central Asia and the South Asia. With the peoples of the ECO member states, we enjoy strong and deep historical and cultural ties. In other words, together, we have inherited a great culture and civilization that remain as shared values to bond us perpetually.

 

I firmly believe that the region to which ECO member states belong is home to rich and ample resources and available opportunities that if used properly, can overcome most of the current problems. Our region has the potential to turn into a hub of inclusive cooperation and integration. The young, dynamic and hard working population, plus the abundance in natural resources have provided the potential for some countries to progress. However, the current trend of globalization makes it even more compelling that we take regional integration to its optimal level.

 

Building and strengthening regional cooperation remains among the top priorities of our foreign policies. The conferences held in Kabul, New Delhi, Islamabad, Istanbul, Dushanbe and the more recently in Istanbul and Kabul under “Heart of Asia”, demonstrate Afghanistan’s resolute determination to pursue stronger regional cooperation.

 

I believe implementing regional economic and transit projects can be the most practical measures to achieve regional integration. It was in line with this vision that the RECCA-V held this March in Dushanbe discussed 17 projects and priorities for stronger regional cooperation. To achieve the goals of inter-regional and international trade growth, Afghanistan and its neighbors will make every effort to implement transit infrastructures such as roads and railroads, and to provide a conducive mutual environment for increased investment, stronger trade and expanded communications to the regional water ports and to enhance stronger cultural and people-to people contacts.

To promote and facilitate stronger regional cooperation, Afghanistan is working with all relevant countries to finalize major regional projects such as TAPI gaz pipeline and the CASA-1000 energy projects.

 

Furthermore, Afghanistan is making all efforts to realize the land connectivity projects that link east to west of the country and to further extend the existing roads. The railway from Uzbekistan to Hiratan – Mazar-e-Sharif is currently in use. Afghanistan is working to extend the Herat railway that connects west and north-east of the country to Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, and to Pakistan via Kandahar through the Chaman border in the south..

 

Given the fact that the volume of investment in the ECO region is still much lower than the needs and the available potential, Afghanistan believes that the ECO Member countries need to intensify their actions to promote mutual investment and increased private sector development through the ECO Trade and Development Bank.

 

Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen!

I believe, the ECO member countries are facing common threats and problems, on top of which lies terrorism. The vile attempt on the life of Malala Yousufzai is one of thousands of examples that clearly shows no one can be safe from the threat of terrorism. This menace has no mercy even on our children and their quest for education. As an obvious act of terror, this ruthless attack can be a serious warning to all of us. Let’s be honest in acknowledging that terrorism enjoys safe havens and facilities in our region and can not be defeated without sincere and joint effort by all of us. In addition to the terrorist groups active in Afghanistan, the international terrorist organizations such as Alqaeda, Uzbekistan Islamic Movement (UIM), Tahreek Taliban of Pakistan (TTP), the East Turkistan Movement and Chechen terrorists have presence in our region, and have been receiving training to carry out destructive acts for several years now.

 

With countless sacrifices, Afghan forces have also been confronting terrorists that are intent upon using our territory to cross into some of the Central Asian States and even Russia and China. These groups, while trying to encroach on our neighboring countries, have attacked Afghan forces, our political leaders, our scholars and civilians,  and have acted to destroy our schools, public and private property.

Afghanistan has done everything in its power to prevent such attempts. Our neighbors should recognize and respect our sacrifices especially in fighting the central Asian extremists. Meanwhile, it is also legitimate to expect our neighbors to contain, on their part, the entry of terrorists into our soil and commit all resources to dismantling the terrorists’ training and equipping facilities on their soil. Afghanistan expects an earnest cooperation in this regard.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen!

Narcotics and organized crimes are among the major problems our region is facing. It would be very naive to see this issue as restricted to one country. Afghan farmers are at the receiving end of the illicit business. Afghans are paying the price by suffering immense sacrifices in the counternarcotics war and their legitimate economy is enduring a great deal of damage. However, the real profits go to the international smuggling networks and their supporters. The narcotics issue is a complex international problem. It is a problem that includes the whole criminal chain of cultivation, production and supply for consumption in markets.  Therefore, it is imperative that we enhance cooperation on sharing intelligence, coordinating counter narcotics actions on borders and the supply issue of chemical precursors originating from outside Afghanistan. This is the only way to effectively combat this scourge.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, distinguished colleagues,

 

Since 2002, Afghanistan has opened a new chapter in its political life. Today more than ever before, our national institutions have gained the ability to serve our people and protect the country. The considerable progress that we have achieved in promoting democracy, public participation in political processes and in economic and social development has benefited all our people.

 

Therefore, it is an integral part of our political life to protect a legitimate political system created by the free will of its people. With the departure in 2014 of foreign troops from Afghanistan, not only would nothing unpredictable take place, but also the security would be better than today, with government and state institutions stronger and more capable.  Today, security has improved considerably in the areas where responsibility has been transitioned to the Afghan government.

 

We hope our borders to be the borders of peace and cooperation, and our country restores its historical role to serve as a land-bridge connecting Central to South Asia and China to the Middle East. The realization of this hope goes in concert with the strategic goals of the ECO organization and I believe every member state agrees with me.

 

Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen!

In conclusion, let me once again reaffirm Afghanistan’s commitment to a stronger and more enhanced cooperation within the ECO framework. I wish you all health and prosperity.

 

Thank you very much

The Rule of Law at the National and International Levels in the Sixth Committee of the United Nations General Assembly

Statement by H.E. Zahir Tanin Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations At the Meeting on Agenda Item: 83 The Rule of Law at the National and International Levels in the Sixth Committee of the United Nations General Assembly

Mr. Chairman,

We wish to thank the Secretary General for his report “Strengthening and Coordinating United Nations rule of law activities,” – contained in document A/67/296.  My delegation associates itself with the statement delivered by the Islamic Republic of Iran, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement.

Mr. Chairman,

The undeniable fact remains that the rule of law is the fundamental basis for a stable and harmonious world order, where mankind as a whole is able to benefit from peace, security, development, social progress and prosperity. This underscores the obvious – that in strengthening the rule of law, nationally, and internationally, we have a shared interest and collective responsibility.

As in past sessions, our discussion exemplifies that the UN attaches high priority to the agenda item under our consideration.  In this context, we commend the UN’s important role in the overall effort to strengthen the rule of law, both at the national and international levels.  From constitution making, to helping States reform their national legal systems, and build capacity in their justice and security institutions, the UN is playing a key role in enabling countries to achieve stable and harmonious societies, governed by the rule of law.

Mr. Chairman,

Based on our own difficult past, characterized by decades-long conflict and strife, which left our state-institutions devastated and in shambles, Afghanistan is keenly aware of both the importance of, and challenges associated with, consolidating the rule of law.  It was only eleven years ago when we began our state-building efforts, with the support of the international community. Ever since, the rule of law has been at the core of strategy to restore a lasting peace and stability, and to enable Afghans to take full charge of meeting their security, governance and development needs.

We have taken a wide range of measures to strengthen governance, and the rule of law at both the national and sub-national levels.  Among them include the promulgation of a constitution, promoting and protecting the rights of all citizens; a comprehensive overhaul of our national legal framework; as well as action plans to build capacity in our state-institutions.

In the area of security, we successfully implemented our security sector reform (SSR), leading to the formation of a national army and police, representative of the national character of our society.  As we speak, Afghan national security forces are increasingly taking charge of combat operations throughout the country, with the overall aim to achieve full security responsibility by end of 2014.  Taking this opportunity, we wish to mention the important support provided by the international community, including partner countries, and the United Nations, UNDP in particular, to our SSR initiative.

Mr. Chairman,

Defeating corruption and achieving a sound transparent and efficient administration which enjoys the full trust and confidence of the Afghan people continues to be pursued as a matter of high priority. This past July President Karzai issued a Decree, instructing all Ministries, agencies and independent departments to implement comprehensive measures, including reforms, to defeat corruption and enhance transparency.

Mr. Chairman,

Afghanistan stands in full support of the outcome of the High-level Meeting on the Rule of Law, which convened on the 24 of September, last month. As a first of its kind, the historic gathering brought together member-states, non-governmental organizations, and civil society to map-out the way forward in the rule of law agenda.  The onus is on all of us now to translate political commitments to reality.

The High-Level Meeting’s Declaration underscores the importance of national ownership in the rule of law’s activities. In this connection, we emphasize that international support should be aligned with the respective assistance needs, and priorities of States. Such will benefit effective utilization and efficient use of aid.

Mr. Chairman,

The UN has a pivotal role to play in strengthening the rule of law.  We feel that more could be done to further increase the UN’s operational capability in this area. The Rule of Law Coordination and Resource Group, Chaired by the Deputy Secretary General, and supported by the Rule of Law Unit, is mandated to ensure the overall quality, coordination and coherence of rule of law assistance within the UN System.  It is imperative that the Resource and Coordination Group have at its disposal the resources necessary to effectively carry out its mandate.

Afghanistan fully supports the continued consideration of the rule of law agenda in the General Assembly, and other organs of the United Nations.   We consider it imperative to integrate the rule of law into all pillars of the UN’s activities, such as peace and security, development, human-rights and alleviation of poverty.

Mr. Chairman,

In conclusion, let me reiterate Afghanistan’s continued commitment to helping advance the rule of law at the national and international levels!

 

Statement by H.E. Zahir Tanin Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan at the meeting on Crime and Drugs in the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly

Mr. Chairman,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

As this is the first time my delegation is taking the floor, please allow me to congratulate you, Mr. Chairman, and all members of the Bureau on your election. Let me assure you of my delegation’s full support and cooperation throughout the work of this committee.

 

I would also like to express my appreciation to the Secretary-General and the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) for their comprehensive reports, which provide an annual analysis of the efforts of the international community in combating consumption, production, and trafficking of illicit drugs.

 

Mr. Chairman,

 

The problem of narcotics, with all its dimensions, is an international challenge. UNODC’s 2012 World Drug Report highlights this fact. The vicious cycle of production, trafficking and consumption of narcotics must be addressed through genuine, comprehensive global and regional strategies. It is all three aspects of the cycle that create the threat of narcotic drugs. While the Afghan Government is committed to addressing the issue of poppy cultivation in Afghanistan, production does not occur without the persistent problems of trafficking and consumption. There is not one origin of the problem, but three interconnected and complex challenges. Mr. Chairman, the responsibility to eliminate the threat of narcotic drugs, and address all three areas of its existence is an unshakable task that we share internationally.

 

Mr. Chairman,

 

In Afghanistan, the illicit drug trade is a part of the conflict economy, which thrives on the continuation of insecurity and instability. Afghan farmers are faced with immense pressure as a result of demand for poppy cultivation. They often fall into poppy production out of desperate, misguided attempts to emerge from war-induced poverty, or due to coercion from traffickers. However, Afghan farmers only receive a small fraction of the sale of their crops while the vast majority of profits are made outside of Afghanistan’s borders by traffickers and often support networks of global crime and terrorism. While the narcotics industry extends far beyond the Afghan farmer, the cultivation of poppy is a serious issue that must be addressed resolutely. This is why the Afghan Government is committed to eliminating poppy production, strengthening the rule of law and promoting economic prosperity.

 

Nevertheless, the efforts toward eradication are complicated. We must fight the perception that those who seek to keep the drug industry alive are supporting the livelihoods of Afghan farmers, while those who seek to eradicate poppy are punishing them.  This is why creating alternative livelihoods for farmers and promoting economic opportunities are crucial.

 

Mr. Chairman,

 

Despite prevailing challenges, Afghanistan has made tangible progress in combating narcotics over the course of the last few years. We have developed policies in three key areas: creating alternative livelihoods, boosting anti-drug trafficking efforts and reducing demand. We also revised our Five-year National Drug Control Strategy where we identify four key areas to disrupt the illicit drug trade, strengthen and diversify rural livelihoods and reducing demand for illicit drugs.

 

With invigorated efforts, we managed to reduce poppy cultivation from 193,000 hectares to 131,000 hectares in Afghanistan during the last 5 years. We have succeeded to increase the number of poppy-free provinces from 6 to 17. However, as we have recently seen, as a result of the increase in international demand, once declared poppy-free provinces can be lost. We must continue to address cultivation; this year we have managed to eradicate close to 10,871 hectares of poppy fields which shows an increase of three times the eradication of last year. Moreover, we have had significant achievements in the law enforcement sector. For instance 542 tons of opium and its derivatives were seized which is three times more compared to last year figures; 2,331 suspects were arrested which is a 24% increase when compared to last year’s total; and the arrest of public service officials who had supported or facilitated the drug trafficking activities was another strong measure taken last year.

 

These achievements have not come about without a cost. Hundreds of Afghan police officers have sacrificed their lives in eradication of poppy fields.  Compared with 2011, this year we have experienced higher security related incidents during eradication operations showing the strong correlation between insecurity and poppy cultivation in Afghanistan.

 

Mr. Chairman,

 

The link between narcotics and terrorism is of profound concern as terrorist groups in our region are financed in part by profits from trading in drugs. The first report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Implementation Monitoring team, pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1988 of 2011, explains that narcotics are the primary source of funding for the Taliban and terrorist organizations in the region. By halting narcotics production in Afghanistan, we eliminate a significant source of funding for the Taliban and terrorist groups. Therefore, an anti-narcotics plan for Afghanistan is also a counter-terrorism plan.

 

Mr. Chairman,

 

We are convinced that eliminating this dangerous and destructive threat, which has regional and international implications, will require sincere regional cooperation. Afghanistan has, in many regional cooperation forums indicated its strong commitments to this end, and hosted the “Heart of Asia Ministerial Conference” in Kabul in June, to further strengthen the cooperation among the countries of our region. One of the main Confidence Building Measures adopted at this conference is cooperation and interaction among regional countries in the area of counter-narcotics, including through countering the production, trafficking and consumption of opium and other narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, and their precursors.

 

Afghanistan has also been represented at a number of key international conferences including the “International Conference of Ministers of Foreign Relations and Heads of Specialized National Agencies against the World Drug Problem”, in Peru this year and importantly, the Third Ministerial Conference of the Paris Pact Partners, which was held in Vienna in February. The Paris Pact is a keystone of the international community’s fight against illicit traffic in opiates. These forums provide an important opportunity to exchange ideas and build on strategies to address this multifaceted issue. Illicit drugs pose a challenge that we all face, and my delegation believes that with strong regional and international cooperation, we can address that challenges at the three necessary levels: production, trafficking, and consumption.

 

Mr. Chairman,

 

Through these discussions, we must remember that narcotics are hardly an abstract issue: drug abuse is a concrete, life-altering problem that has very tangible consequences for far too many people all over the world. Drug addiction is a human issue that can rob individuals of their livelihood and happiness. Unfortunately, Afghanistan is no exception to this reality. Like other countries in the world, many of our people also suffer the pernicious effects of drug addiction. Drug addiction causes chronic unemployment and curbs economic, social, and political progress in Afghanistan. A drug addict is unable to function at anywhere near his full potential, and usually cannot maintain steady employment or a healthy family life.

 

Mr. Chairman,

 

In conclusion, please allow me to reiterate the commitment of the people and Government of Afghanistan in the fight against narcotics. We look forward to working with our regional and international partners in taking decisive action to address this global threat.

 

Thank you.