Sunday, March 29, 2015

Transcript of Statement by President Ghani at 51st Munich Security Conference

Transcript of Statement by Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan at

51st Munich Security Conference

February 8, 2015

Munich, Germany

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

Ambassador,

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,

I am the elected President of a 99.9% Muslim country, a country where 38% of the electorate were women, where in order to participate, people had to face cutting  of their fingers. I bring, first, couple of stories to you and then connect to the themes of the Conference.

On June, 2014 , a man with a tractor who would not allow his woman to get out of his house for 40 years,  took forty trips on a tractor to get the women to vote , because legitimacy in my country now comes from the ballot.

On December 16th, 2014, our children playing volleyball were massacred in cold blood and when I called their parents, they told me they have the resolve of steel to stand up to the threats of terror, that they want peace, a peace to enable their children to go to school and become like me, pleased with the word, firmly anchored in our great civilization, and committed to equal rights.

And two weeks ago, we had 4000 Ulemma, these are religious scholars, uniformly they supported the Afghan national army and endorsed our security compact with the United States and our Status of Force Agreement with NATO.

We, ladies and gentlemen, speak for true Islam, for the believes of people and for the aspirations of the future generations. Daesh [ISIL], al-Qaida and the rest of the networks are the aberrations and we must have the courage to be able to speak for the absolute majority,  but in order to speak for them, we must deliver but before that, let me first, Ambassador Ischinger, thank you and thank the members of NATO-ISAF, particularly the United States, European colleagues and others.

Over four thousand of your citizens, men and women, lost their lives in our country, close to a million people served in rotations, we honored that sacrifice and that sacrifice is not going  to be in vain, the Resolute Support Mission that began on January 1, 2015 has been approved by the majority of the two Houses of the Parliament of Afghanistan and it’s a platform for future cooperation.

Together, there is substantial amount that we can do, but what is the nature of the threat?  I would like to speak of the ecology of terror, terror has become a system in a distinctive ecology.  And fortunately, Afghanistan where our successes have made us not be headlines, because when will the media report on a success,  is still the focal point of the media of this ecology.

 Pakistan’s operations in North and South Waziristan, have had  a displacement effect, where the center of gravity is shifted to Afghanistan. Daesh [ISIL] is fast moving to stage four of its classic pattern, namely organizing, orienting, deciding and acting. The threat of this ecology is global but Afghanistan is the meeting ground of this global ecology, lest we forget this and take our eyes elsewhere, there will be consequences.

This is not to say that we are not committed , the world does not owe us, we must first take the responsibility to reorganize and we are. The reform programs that we have embarked on are substantial, focused, and their key goal is to honor the electorate. In terms of the idea, we have done what has been unprecedented, namely a victor in an election not claiming the prize, but forming a government of national unity so that all the electorate would be represented. Political consensus is the first basis of moving forward and we are moving forward.

Second, we have engaged the region. Our active diplomacy has brought a series of trilateral relationship, the most significant of which has been China, United States and Afghanistan. Equally, our engagement with Pakistan has been intense, comprehensive and hopefully in quiet. We do not make announcements, we look for outcomes. And we are hopeful that there will be outcomes that will make results that will be game changers in our part of the world. We have engaged our Central Asian neighbors, and soon we will have witnessed the birth of the Lapis lazuli route, a route that would connect Afghanistan to Europe via Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey.

We have engaged all members of five circles of our foreign policy, and here particularly again I would like to thank the United States and the framework nations of Germany, Italy, Turkey, UK and other members who are contributing to the Resolute Support Mission.

But on the ecology of terror, our focus is country by country rather than on  understanding the ecological system. Our response system is slow, because we really don’t understand networks. We take the threats individually rather than systemically. And it is very important not to isolate the events from Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Libya from what is unfolding in Afghanistan and South Asia. Because the threats from the network perspective are becoming stronger, the state response is, unfortunately, weaker.

I am glad to see the concept of hybrid warfare make it into Munich security Conference’s vocabulary. We have suffered from this practice, so I’d like to call attention to one feature that is not part of the vocabulary yet, “criminality”. Deep networks of criminality are a driver of conflict. Most of the time when we focus on peace, we focus on the ideologues, on the discourse, on formation of networks of discursive understanding. The key question is who finances the conflict and who benefits from it? It is not that the discourse discursive part is unimportant, but without understanding the deep roots of financing. The global criminal economy is worth 1.7 trillion a year, and the criminalization of part of Afghanistan’s economy is certainly among the top 20 contributors to this.

So, in terms of response, we need compacts for stability and prosperity and this must address four levels; one is at the national level. What enables terrorism to thrive and instability to prevail, is when the citizen is not in the center stage. The Afghan citizen does not live in the 16th century, 18th or 19th. She lives in the 21st century and aspirations of the 21st century. Her participation in the election must be honored by honoring the election and the democratic system and not dismissing. Of course, it is taking a long time for one of the poorest countries on earth to become fully stable, but the intention in the engagement of the citizen must be taken.

Second, regional – in the region we have had a practice, where states, if provided sanctuary to non-state actors, and or where they have sponsored, where states have sponsored non-state actors deliberately to undermine the security of a neighbor. I hope that it becomes clear that those days are over.

Third, the Islamic level – there is a struggle for the soul of Islam, for who speaks for this great civilization, and we must not remain silent. Silence is no longer an option in face of the barbarity of killing the Jordanian soldier or the Japanese hostage or others.

And fourth is global – our global institutions are slow. They are product of mid 20th century, geared to response to conditions of the  20th century. Without a global architecture that responds to the conditions of 2015, we will always be not two steps behind, Mr. Alisa but ten steps behind. So we do hope that at the global level, we can reorient.

But my last message, and thank you for the opportunity, is one of hope. We will overcome all these difficulties, because Afghans have a unique space in Islamic history. No one in the 20th century has paid a higher price, sacrificed as much, and suffered as much for defending our faith against the Soviet invasion for standing for what is right, for aspiring to generate and contribute to order. Based on that record, now the people of Afghanistan are ready, not to just open a new page, but to begin a new book, a book of cooperation, understanding and engagement. Our location, our water resources, our mineral resources, our entrepreneurial energies, all allow us to hope for a different day.

We hope that you will remain engaged, and committed and that we all together can participate in inclusive global order where we will all benefit.

Thank you!

United Nations’ Security Council Open Debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict

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Statement by H.E. Zahir Tanin Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations Security Council Open Debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict

Thank you, Mr. President, for convening this important debate. I would also like to thank the representative of OCHA, ICRC and Ms. Ilwad Elman for their briefings.

The protection of civilians is a pressing priority for the Government of Afghanistan. The Afghan people have suffered for over 30 years as a result of war and conflict, and continue to suffer today; this past year was the deadliest year for civilians in Afghanistan since 2001.

The Taliban and other extremist armed groups are responsible for the overwhelming majority of civilian casualties in Afghanistan. They directly target civilians with their brutal violent campaigns and utter disregard for human life. They carry out heinous acts of terror on mosques, markets, schools, homes and critical infrastructure and threaten communities by planting improvised explosive devises (IED’s) and launching suicide and complex attacks in public places. They target men, women, children, clergy, tribal elders, government officials, and justice sector employees alike.

 Let me be clear, attacks on civilians are a sign of weakness; they are not a sign of strength. They are a serious violation of international humanitarian law and breach the basic tenets of Islam.

 Mr. President,

The women of Afghanistan have borne the brunt of conflict for over 30 years of war. They have been the biggest victims of violence. This past year in Afghanistan was particularly deadly for women, with 12 percent more women killed and injured than the previous year. Women in Afghanistan, including women in public roles and girls seeking education, are often targeted for all forms of gender-based violence. Even when their lives are not directly at risk, women’s livelihoods are impacted by the negative consequences of violent conflict. When husbands, parents, siblings or guardians die or become handicapped, women are often left as the sole breadwinners in the family. Many lack access to paid work and financial resources, and this impedes their ability to provide for themselves and their families and makes them vulnerable to exploitation. Women displaced by conflict are also economically vulnerable and at heightened risk of exploitation and discrimination.

Mitigating the specific impact of conflict on women is a priority for the government of Afghanistan. In this regard, the government is implementing Security Council resolution 1325 and its subsequent resolutions through Afghanistan’s National Action Plan on 1325 for Women, Peace and Security, which was signed in October 2014 and Afghanistan’s National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan (NAPWA). Moreover, the government recognizes the importance of women’s active participation in ending conflict, and is committed to ensuring that women’s voices are represented in peace, reconciliation and developments efforts in the country.

Mr. President,

 As armed extremists of Afghanistan launch increasing attacks on civilians around the country, the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) are engaged in large-scale counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency efforts. It is tragic that Afghan civilians, including women and children, are caught in the crossfire of security operations. However, I would like to emphasize that the Afghan forces are doing their utmost to ensure that the safety of civilians is central to their campaigns and taking all necessary measures to prevent Afghan civilian loss of life. Thousands of Afghan security forces lost their lives fighting armed insurgents; their bravery and sacrifice is a testament to the government’s strong commitment to protect civilians and bring peace and security to the country. In addition, the government is pursing the vigorous implementation of our national counter-IED strategy and facilitating on-going training of the Afghan National Security and Defense Forces to conduct counter-IED operations and disposal.

Unfortunately, a number of civilian casualties occur as a result of explosive remnants of war (ERWs). ERWs pose a serious threat to Afghan civilians, particularly children. Indeed, the majority of the casualties caused by ERW have been children. With the sharp rise in kinetic engagements in 2014 and the conclusion of the ISAF mission, the associated risk of ERW to civilian life is at the highest level.  In this regard, I would like to highlight the importance of robust efforts to fully support the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) to mark hazardous areas, ensure clearance of ERW from the battlefield and continue awareness raising programs that educate civilians -particularly children- of the deadly dangers of ERWs.

Mr. President,

The cycle of violence that has interrupted the lives of innocent Afghans for over thirty years must stop. To this end, my government is vigorously pursuing a reconciliation agenda with the armed opposition and engagement with countries in the region to move the process forward. With the support of the international community and our neighbors, peace and security can be realized in Afghanistan and all Afghan civilians can live with honor and dignity in a country free from violence.

 Thank you.

Statement by H.E. Zahir Tanin Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations Security Council Debate on the Situation in Afghanistan

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At the outset, I would like to thank the Republic of Chad for its leadership of the Council this month and for convening this debate. I thank the Secretary-General for his comprehensive report on the Situation in Afghanistan. I also welcome the statement of Mr. Haysom, Special Representative to the Secretary-General and head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, and congratulate him on his recent appointment. Also, I would like to thank Mr. Yuri Fedotov, Executive Director of UNODC, for his presence here today and for his briefing. I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to Ambassador Quinlan and the Permanent Mission of Australia for their support and great efforts as Afghanistan’s penholder on the Council for the past two years.

Mr. President,

The international military combat mission in Afghanistan, authorised under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter 13 years ago, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, will officially end in 14 days. Just a few days ago, this august Council adopted a resolution reaffirming the completion of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)’s mandate and welcoming the Resolute Support Mission, aimed at training, advising and assisting Afghan National Security and Defence Forces (ANDSF) on the basis of agreements between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, NATO and the United States. This is an historic step towards a new beginning in Afghanistan and a key marker of the country’s transition to a new chapter in its relations with the international community.

Mr. President,

This monumental achievement comes at the heels of another significant moment in the history of Afghanistan, and another major victory for the transition agenda: presidential elections. While complex and challenging, the elections culminated in the first peaceful transfer of power from one elected leader to another in the country. The agreement of Afghanistan’s leaders to put the country’s successful future ahead of political divisions and establish a national unity government fostered an environment of hopefulness, inclusivity and political consensus, and cemented the foundation for lasting peace and prosperity in Afghanistan.

Mr. President,

While the people and leadership of Afghanistan are confident that the country is moving in a positive direction, the challenges Afghanistan faces are formidable. Insecurity remains the main impediment to progress across the country. In the past several months, terrorists and insurgent groups have intensified attacks in an attempt to deplete national confidence in the new government and to intimidate the Afghan people. As they commit acts of violence and brutality against innocent men, women and children, extremist armed groups should know that the courageous Afghan security forces stand ready to fight for the future of Afghan democracy, peace and security. Their resilience, particularly during the election period and throughout the past year, demonstrates their commitment to protect the lives of Afghans and the future of the country.

In the months and years ahead, the sustained support of the international community, including through the NATO-Afghanistan enduring partnership and the Resolute Support Mission as well as the commitments made at the Bonn conference, the Chicago, Lisbon and Wales summits and the recent NATO Ministerial Meeting in Brussels, will continue to be essential to enhancing the capacity and capabilities of the Afghan forces in the years ahead. At the same time, the government of Afghanistan recognizes that a political solution is essential to stopping the violence and the continuing terror campaign. To this end, an extensive a reconciliation process with the armed opposition is high on the agenda of the government.

As Afghanistan takes steps to overcome security threats, the country faces immediate economic challenges including a looming fiscal crisis. The protracted election process triggered uncertainty and negatively impacted revenue collection, donor confidence and economic growth, making it difficult for the government to mobilize adequate revenue to meet its financing priorities. We call on our international partners to fulfil their commitments to support the country so that the government can close the long-running fiscal gap and deliver on its reform promises.

Mr. President,

The government of national unity has devised a comprehensive reform agenda aimed at addressing both the immediate and the long term challenges Afghanistan faces and at enabling the country to make progress towards self-reliance, sustainable growth, peace and stability. Today I will highlight a few key aspects of the new agenda, which the leadership of Afghanistan presented in full to international partners at the London conference on Afghanistan earlier this month:

1.     Fighting corruption. Recognizing the corrosive effects of corruption, the government of Afghanistan has already taken steps to tackle this endemic scourge and its underlying drivers. In its first days in office, the new administration reopened the Kabul Bank case and made plans to reform a number of key oversight bodies.

2.     Advancing good governance. The government is committed to strengthening democratic institutions, promoting the rule of law, enhancing human rights, particularly the rights of women and girls, and undertaking comprehensive reforms of electoral laws and institutions.

3.     Promoting economic and fiscal stability. Afghanistan is committed to enhancing productivity, mobilizing domestic revenue, and expanding private sector investment, growth and employment opportunities with the ultimate aim of reducing Afghanistan’s dependence on donor support and achieving long term sustainability and prosperity in the country. The illicit drug economy is a grave concern, and to this end the government is committed to a comprehensive response to combat this menace, in collaboration with our regional and international partners.

4.     Strengthening regional cooperation. This will set Afghanistan firmly on the path towards peace and security and will enhance growth, prosperity and stability in Afghanistan and across the region. President Ghani’s state visits to China, Pakistan, Azerbaijan and engagement with other neighbouring countries as well as his attendance at key regional meetings, such as the 17th SAARC summit in Kathmandu and the Fourth Heart of Asia- Istanbul Process Ministerial Conference in China, indicate the priority that the new government gives to regional integration. The government has also taken steps to increase transit, trade, investment and energy and power projects such as CASA 1000 and TAPI and to utilize Afghanistan’s geographical advantage as a hub connecting Central, South, West and East Asia.

5.     Enhancing the development partnership. The government of Afghanistan is committed to delivering upon its commitments as set out in the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework. At the same time, it is crucial that donors reaffirm mutual commitments to aid effectiveness principles, including the importance of building Afghan capabilities, delivering more aid on budget, and aligning development initiatives with Afghan national priorities. We look forward to deepening these mutual commitments at the Senior Officials Meeting in 2015 in Kabul and the next Ministerial Meeting in 2016.

Mr. President,

The national unity government has already taken significant, positive steps to advance its reform agenda and to lay the foundation for lasting peace and stability in the country. Its decisive actions in the areas of governance, security, economic and social development, regional and international relations and human rights and its successful achievement of key milestones in the transition process have sent a powerful message to the people of Afghanistan and the international community that, as President Ghani has said, a successful Afghanistan is entirely within our reach. At the same time, we recognize that a great deal of hard work lies ahead of us including the formation of a merit based cabinet, which the leadership of Afghanistan aims to accomplish in the coming weeks. Moving forward, the government is dedicated to sustaining the optimism of the Afghan people and to building a successful future.

Mr. President,

At this critical juncture in the country’s history, the national unity government is determined to build upon the enthusiasm of the Afghan people, and the successes of the past 13 years, to take bold steps towards self-sufficiency, peace and prosperity for all Afghans. As it does so, the enduring support of the international community is essential to the success of the government’s comprehensive reform agenda, to the country’s efforts to achieve the objectives of the Transformation decade and to enduring peace, stability and prosperity in the years ahead.

Thank you.