Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Statement of H.E. Mr. Jawed Ludin Deputy Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan At the United Nations Security Council Debate On The Situation in Afghanistan

Mr. President,

Under-Secretary General Ladsous,

Excellencies,

 

It is an honour to have the opportunity to address the Security Council of the United Nations for the first time.  I convey the gratitude of the Afghan people to all Council members, and the countries you represent, for your commitment to a peaceful Afghanistan, and for maintaining a focus on the evolving situation in my country.

 

Under-Secretary General Ladsous, thank you for your useful and comprehensive briefing and for spending an extended period of time in Afghanistan on your recent visit.  It was a pleasure to join you and Mr. Heitmann in Kabul for the launch of the UNAMA mandate review’s team visit.

 

Mr. President,

 

2011 has been a year of significant milestones for Afghanistan and we Afghans are proud to have been successful in most of the steps we have taken in partnership with the international community.  Of course, as in the years before, every bit of our achievements has come at a price.  Terrorism remains a strong threat, and Afghans have continued to pay huge sacrifices for the vision of a peaceful, prosperous and democratic Afghanistan. However, no threat or demand for sacrifice will deter us from achieving our vision, and we truly appreciate the crucial help of our international friends and partners in this historic struggle.

 

Mr. President,

 

Having always aspired to achieve self-reliance, this past year we finally took the crucial step of beginning the Transition process, which will see Afghanistan’s national security forces take full responsibility for security in the country by end of 2014. With the implementation of the second tranche of transition, announced last month by His Excellency President Hamid Karzai, Afghan forces are taking charge of security for over fifty percent of the country’s population.

 

Allow me to emphasise that, for us Afghans, Transition is not an imposed deadline, or a mere operational benchmark.  Transition is truly the manifestation of our determination to succeed, and to stand on our own feet. It is the guiding framework for all our efforts and, in a fundamental sense, it is the ultimate goal of the partnership we Afghans have had with the international community for the past ten years.

 

Transition, however, is not just about security.  As we move to take full responsibility for defending our country and securing the lives of our people, we are also assuming greater ownership of affairs on the civilian front, including the political process and the development agenda.  Therefore, to make transition meaningful, alongside building up the capacity of our security forces, we are redoubling our efforts to take the peace process forward, improve governance, fight corruption and build the requisite capacities of our government institutions to carry out their sovereign functions effectively and transparently.

 

Mr. President,

 

Speaking of the political solution, I wish to reassure the Council that the Afghan Government remains committed to the Afghan-led peace effort that is aimed at reconciling members of the armed opposition and bringing them to peaceful lives in the society.  You are aware that our peace efforts have, in recent months, faced a number of setbacks, notably the tragic assassination of Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani, former president and head of the High Peace Council. Nonetheless, at the consultative Loya Jirga last month in Kabul, the Afghan people unanimously reaffirmed the peace process, giving it a renewed impetus. The national gathering conveyed the Afghan people’s desire for the continuation of an inclusive Afghan-led national reconciliation and reintegration process.

 

Through the peace process, we will continue to reach out to the armed opposition, and reconcile those willing to renounce violence, break ties with terrorist organisations, and live peaceful lives under the Constitution.  We believe the process may benefit from the establishment of an office, within or outside Afghanistan, whereby formal talks between relevant Afghan authorities and representatives of armed opposition, including the Taliban, could be facilitated.  Furthermore, we will continue to rely on support from regional countries, in particular the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, without whose support, our peace efforts will not bear the desired results.

 

Mr. President,

 

The role of the region surrounding Afghanistan remains central to the peaceful and prosperous future we Afghans envision for our country.  The threats we share in common, including the menaces of terrorism, narcotics and so on, will not be defeated, nor will peace in Afghanistan ever be achieved, in the absence of constructive, result-oriented cooperation at the regional level. Therefore, over the past ten years, we in Afghanistan have put regional cooperation at the heart of our vision for the future, and we will continue to do so in the future.

 

Thanks to the leadership of the brotherly Republic of Turkey, the ‘Istanbul Conference for Afghanistan: Security and Cooperation in the Heart of Asia’, held in early November in Istanbul, was one visionary step forward towards cooperation and confidence building across the region. We are both hopeful and optimistic that the Istanbul Process will help bring about a new regional environment – one that is characterized by cooperation, integration, confidence, and a shared effort for achieving security and prosperity. This vision has eluded us for far too long.  We will follow up the Istanbul Conference with another Ministerial Level conference to be held in Kabul in June 2012, the preparation of which has already begun in earnest.

 

Mr. President,

 

As the partnership between Afghanistan and the international community evolves through and after the Transition phase, Afghans need the reassurance that our friends from the region and beyond will continue to support our progress towards peace, stability, prosperity and democracy. Thankfully, this assurance was given, in very strong terms, two weeks ago in Germany, where over a hundred countries and international organisations gathered for the ‘International Afghanistan Conference in Bonn’. I wish to express our sincere appreciation to Germany, Afghanistan’s longstanding friend and partner, for hosting this historic conference.

 

The true significance of the Bonn Conference was in reflecting a crucial consensus that exists internationally for supporting a peaceful, sovereign and prosperous future for Afghanistan. This consensus was expressed in a strong language of support and commitment, particularly in setting out the concept of the Transformation Decade of 2015-2025 as a solid basis for the international community’s enduring engagement and support beyond Transition.

 

The Conference also reaffirmed the Kabul Process as the framework for international community’s cooperation with Afghanistan as we continue to transform our country out of a war-dependent economy towards self-reliance.  In this context, we look forward to the Tokyo Conference in July next year as an opportunity to focus on Afghanistan’s future economic agenda.  I thank our Japanese friends for their friendship and for organizing this crucial conference.

 

Mr. President,

 

If the Bonn conference was the demonstration of a consensus at the international level, the consultative Loya Jirga organized on 16 to 19 November in Kabul was its mirror image within Afghanistan, reflecting the unanimity among the Afghan people for partnership and engagement with the international community.  Over two thousand Afghan representatives from all segments of society and all corners of the country came together and, in a historic manifestation of democratic will, gave a resounding affirmation to the Afghan government’s efforts to forge long-term, strategic partnerships with the United States and other countries from within and outside the region.

 

In this context, we have proudly finalized a strategic partnership agreement with our old, historic friend, the Republic of India, and are in the process of negotiating similar agreements with our other friends and partners, based on the principles of mutual respect and the fundamental equality of sovereign nations.  These partnerships will be the building blocks of Afghanistan’s future relations with the international community. They cannot, and will not, represent a threat to any other country in the region or beyond.

 

 

Mr. President,

As we move forward, the role of the UN will remain crucial to Afghanistan’s partnership with the international community. We expect that the ongoing review of the UNAMA’s mandate will produce a more coherent and responsive UN role in Afghanistan and, in this context, welcome the recent visit of the review team to Afghanistan. I look forward to a continued dialogue between Afghanistan, both at the Kabul level and in New York, and the United Nations towards the review, which should reinforce the principles of Afghan ownership and leadership through transition and beyond.

 

Speaking about the UN, may I request Under Secretary General Ladsous that you convey my, and the Afghan people’s, gratitude and deep appreciation to Mr. Steffan De Mistura for his dedicated service and excellent leadership of the UN in Afghanistan.  I personally have enjoyed working with him, and I wish him every success in his future endeavours.  May I also take the opportunity to congratulate Mr. Jan Kubis on his appointment as the new SRSG.  Mr. Kubis’s distinguished career, and the trust invested in him by the Secretary General, assures us of a continued effective leadership of the United Nations in Afghanistan.

 

Mr. President,

 

As we meet today, at the end of the tenth year of what has been a truly historic collaboration between the Afghan people and the international community, allow me to reaffirm Afghanistan’s unwavering determination to achieve a peaceful, prosperous and democratic future in close partnership with the world.  Of course, we have had tremendous achievements together, and we are all aware of the challenges on the way ahead and the imperatives for continued commitment and cooperation.

 

Today, with the tremendous success of the Bonn Conference fresh on our minds, I am here to express appreciation for the international community’s recommitment to Afghanistan’s future, as expressed in Bonn earlier this month. I also thank this august Council for standing behind the Conference conclusions. As Afghanistan moves from Transition to the Transformation Decade, this Council’s guidance, and the international community’s commitment remains as crucial for our future as ever before.  Thank You!

Statement By H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan At The NATO-ISAF Foreign Ministers Meeting

 Brussels, December 8, 2011

 Secretary General Rasmussen,

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

I thank you Secretary General Rasmussen for your initiative and for your leadership in driving NATO’s critical mission in Afghanistan.  I wish you good health and a speedy recovery.

 

It is a privilege to be here among Afghanistan’s friends and partners, who have done so much for the cause of peace, stability and democracy in Afghanistan over the past decade.

 

Dear Colleagues,

A decade ago we jointly started our journey to fight terrorism and make the world a safer place for all of us. We have come a long way in this shared journey.

 

We are grateful to you all, our NATO partners, for helping us recover from decades of destruction.  With your help, we have had history-making achievements in Afghanistan, something we can all be deservedly proud of. Let me just say that we wouldn’t be where we are today without the selfless sacrifices of your soldiers, the hard work of your diplomats and development officials, and your generous assistance to the reconstruction of Afghanistan. We look forward to broadening and deepening our cooperation and partnership with NATO.

 

Just three days ago in Bonn, we adopted a blueprint for broadening and deepening our partnership with the International Community during Afghanistan’s 2015-2024 Transformation Decade. This is a partnership based on mutual commitments: the assumption of increasing responsibilities and implementation of reforms, including anti-corruption measures, by the Afghan government, and, on the part of the international community, a credible, strong long-term commitment of support and assistance to Afghanistan for at least a decade beyond Transition. I would like to take the opportunity here to thank Germany and especially Foreign Minister Westerwelle for Germany’s unparalleled arrangements for this conference.

 

Since the Kabul Conference, the Government of Afghanistan has taken specific measures to improve governance, fight corruption and improve the delivery of basic services to the population. To help enhance the capacity of government institutions, and increase public confidence, we need our partners’ cooperation in phasing out all structures that undermine the authority of the government or duplicate the functions of Afghan state institutions.

 

The Bonn Conference outcome also gives us several follow-up steps to translate our mutual commitments into concrete actions – an economic conference in Tokyo next July, a regional cooperation follow-up ministerial conference in Kabul in June, a regional economic cooperation conference on Afghanistan in Tajikistan, and, of course, the NATO Chicago Summit next May. Among other things, in Chicago we hope to discuss plans for the long-term training, equipping and sustainability of our national security forces with our NATO allies. So we look forward to working with you in the months ahead to define our plans to those ends.

 

At the same time, the finalization of the NATO Strategic Plan on Afghanistan paves the way for our effective and long-term partnership beyond 2014.

 

Dear Colleagues,

The successful first phase of Transition this past summer was a milestone for us. The second phase, announced last week, will put Afghan soldiers and police officers in charge of the security of nearly fifty percent of the Afghan population.

 

The Transition agenda overall is undoubtedly ambitious. Its full and irreversible success will continue to require a comprehensive and responsible approach, and extraordinary effort from both Afghans and our partners in the international community to succeed.

 

We must strengthen our efforts to bolster the quality and capabilities of Afghan national security institutions in all areas so that they become a more confident, professional, effective, and self-reliant force.

 

Afghanistan is committed to fighting terrorism, as well as illicit drugs, which finances terrorism and criminalizes our economy. As we continue the fight against international terrorism in our region, we need to pay particular attention to two crucial issues. First, we must realize that terrorism primarily comes from safe-havens beyond our borders, where terrorists find sanctuary, training, logistical support, and strategic guidance for attacks against Afghan and international forces, and civilian targets. Unless we deal with this regional dimension of the international terrorist threat, our gains in Afghanistan, and global peace and security will always be in jeopardy. Two, we need to maintain our utmost focus on protecting Afghan civilians. In this specific regard, I welcome and appreciate General Allen’s recent guidance to ISAF forces on protecting civilians. Our attention to avoiding civilian casualties is already shifting the popular narrative in Afghanistan against the terrorists who have no regard for innocent civilians, as so grotesquely and cowardly illustrated by the terrorist attacks in Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif, Kandahar and Helmand over the past three days.

 

Transition is interlinked with the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process, something that remains the surest path to a dignified, inclusive and durable peace for all Afghans. Despite continued attacks and the assassination of Professor Rabbani, head of the High Peace Council, the Afghan people want the peace process to continue. And it will. The recent Traditional Loya Jirga in Kabul, which brought together more than 2,200 representatives from across the country expressed their full support to the peace process.

 

In the area of economic cooperation, we would like to work closely with the international community to shift development efforts toward supporting major infrastructure projects and creating real employment for the Afghan people, particularly in the agriculture, energy, mining, and education sectors.

 

Regional cooperation remains crucial to the vision of stability and progress in Afghanistan. Through a number of initiatives, Afghanistan is reclaiming our historic role as a trade, transport and connectivity hub, and most importantly, as a catalyst for wider cooperation in the ‘Heart of Asia’ region. The Istanbul Process launched last month on a promising path of taking concrete steps towards confidence building and cooperation in our region.

 

Parallel to our sincere efforts to increase and strengthen meaningful regional cooperation to the benefit of all countries in the region, we are working with our key allies and partners in the international community on signing long-term strategic partnerships. This is something the people of Afghanistan are firmly behind; they expressed as much through their resounding endorsement of a long-term strategic partnership with the United States of America at the recent loya jirga in Kabul. The Afghan government attaches utmost importance and value to this partnership that will be built on the existing strong foundations of friendship, cooperation and shared sacrifices our two nations have borne in the fight against terrorism and in the struggle for a peaceful, secure, democratic Afghanistan.

 

In addition to the strategic partnership we signed with India in October, we are also signing or negotiating long-term, strategic partnerships with other partners and allies, including the United Kingdom, the European Union, France, Australia, Italy and Germany. All of these partnerships will help us preserve and consolidate our gains, and ensure that Afghanistan never again falls victim to the sort of terrorism and disorder that will harm us, the rest of the region and the wider world.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Afghanistan is entering a new phase of partnership with the international community, including NATO, as a sovereign, independent country. With the Transition process now in full momentum, we are at a critical stage in Afghanistan’s recovery, stabilization and development. As we pursue the full success of the Transition process, pursue the reforms we know are necessary, including the fight against corruption, and enter our country’s Decade of Transformation, we will continue to rely on your steadfast, long-term support, friendship and assistance.

 

Thank you.

 

Opening Remarks by H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul Minister of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan at the Istanbul Conference for Afghanistan:

Opening Remarks by H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan

At the

Istanbul Conference for Afghanistan:

Security and Cooperation in the Heart of Asia

2 November 2011

Excellencies

Distinguished Colleagues,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear brother Foreign Minister Davutoglu, please accept my sincerest condolences for last week’s tragic earthquake in the Province of Van that took so many lives and inflicted huge losses. We pray for a quick recovery for all those affected.

It’s a great pleasure to join you here today in welcoming our colleagues and friends from countries with whom we share our region. I wish to express heartfelt appreciations to the Government of Turkey for hosting today’s Conference for Afghanistan which focuses on “Security and Cooperation in the Heart of Asia”. Your personal efforts, Foreign Minister Davutoglu, have been crucial in shaping this important regional gathering for which I am immensely and genuinely grateful.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As mentioned in remarks by both His Excellency President Gul and His Excellency President Karzai, today’s gathering presents an important opportunity; an opportunity to broaden the horizons of regional cooperation for our mutual benefit.  We owe it to our peoples and their future to cooperate with each other so we can realize our true potentials and our children can enjoy a safer, more prosperous life.

Recognising how crucial regional cooperation is, it is a responsibility – a collective responsibility – we all have to do what we can in order to bring about an environment that is free from the perils of terrorism, extremism, narcotics, organized crime – these are the examples of the kind of common and real challenges we face as a region today.

Dear Colleagues,

You heard His Excellency President Karzai this morning describing the challenges that our country is facing today.  Indeed, over the past ten years, we have come a long way in making lives better for the Afghan people.  However, significant threats and challenges remain.  The region that surrounds Afghanistan has been a great supporter in our efforts, and remains a huge factor in our ability to overcome the challenges that remain.

Therefore, over the past decade, the Government of Afghanistan has put the task of building regional confidence and cooperation at the centre of our vision for a stable and prosperous Afghanistan.  The Kabul Declaration on Good-Neighbourly Relations of 22 December 2002 laid the foundations of Afghanistan’s new relationship in the region – a relationship that is based on respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity, peaceful co-existence, refraining from interference and respect for international law.

Over the past ten years, we have actively engaged in all regional organisations which have a role to play in strengthening regional cooperation in various fields – from our active participation in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) – which we are hoping to join as an observer country in the near future – to other regional organisations that deal with furthering cooperation in economic and other field, such as the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC).

There have been specific regional initiatives to help Afghanistan, such as the   Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA), which we value and are committed to maintain.  We are committed to exploring new and effective ideas that could be translated into workable strategies in the interest of regional economic integration.  In this respect, we welcome the New Silk Road initiative and look forward to a fruitful dialogue with our neighbours and regional partners.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Our gathering in Istanbul is a recognition that, building on our progress of the past ten years in terms of strengthening regional cooperation, we must take bolder and stronger steps in order to make regional cooperation more effective. As far as Afghanistan is concerned, we view the Istanbul Conference as one of the most important opportunities for Afghanistan and our regional partners to reaffirm our mutual commitments to cooperation, and chart a way forward for building greater confidence and understanding across the region.

Together with our friends and supporters from outside this region, our gathering today is taking place in a unique format – the Heart of Asia – which brings together all the major countries of the wider region surrounding Afghanistan, from South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East.   Given the increasing interdependence and commonality of interests and concerns across the wider region, it is important to broaden the geographical, as well as substantive, focus of our cooperation at the regional level.

Excellencies,

The Afghan Government aims for the Istanbul Conference to be a successful turning point with a tangible outcome that helps build a common regional vision for peace and stability.  The Conference will be a significant milestone to recognize Afghanistan’s long quest and desire for stability, as well as the region’s growing need for confidence building and cooperation against the common challenges we face, notably terrorism, extremism, the drug trade, and obstacles to legitimate interaction and movement, to name but a few.

I am satisfied with the huge amount of intensive preparatory work that has gone into making this Conference a success.  Indeed, it has been a truly participatory process where the views and concerns of all the neighbours and fellow regional countries have been taken into account.  From the various preparatory meetings, including Dubai, Oslo and Kabul, to the visits by Afghan and Turkish officials to major capitals of the region, this has been a very meaningful dialogue.

I thank the Republic of Turkey again for the leadership role they have in strengthening regional cooperation and, in particular, in making this important conference the turning point it should be.  We Afghans are honoured and blessed to have a friend like Turkey.

I also express deep gratitude and appreciation to Afghanistan’s other neighbours and near neighbours for supporting the vision of regional cooperation, and for taking an active part in this process.  Your presence here today is not only a testimony to your friendship and solidarity with Afghanistan, but also your commitment to strengthening and deepening cooperation at the regional level.

May I also thank all the supporter countries who are so strongly represented here today.  Indeed, without support and solidarity from friends and partners from outside the region, our region will not be able to make the vision of regional cooperation and integration a reality.  In particular, I wish to say a sincere thank you to the Kingdom of Norway for being a great friend and supporter of regional cooperation in the Heart of Asia.  In particular, the role that Norway played in facilitating dialogue in the run up to this conference is highly appreciated.

The role of the United Nations has been extremely useful.  We are all members of the UN and, as such, the role of this global entity is one major common bond that ties us across the region.  In particular, the contributions from the Secretary General’s Special Representative to Afghanistan, Ambassador Staffan de Mistura, have been substantial and commendable.

Dear Colleagues,

For regional cooperation to be meaningful, it must deliver results.  For all the goodwill and desire that exist across our region for strengthening regional cooperation, the progress we are making in tackling our common challenges is relatively modest.  Therefore, today’s conference must be the beginning of a process that involves tangible steps and credible results.  I appeal to Afghanistan’s neighbours and fellow regional countries to rally behind the Istanbul Undertaking we are hoping to adopt today.

In conclusion, I thank all of Afghanistan’s partners in the international community, its neighbours and partners in this Heart of Asia region for your continued support and solidarity with Afghanistan.  In particular, I thank you all for attending this historical conference and contributing to its success.

Thank you for your attention and I invite you far an active participation in today’s meeting.