Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Statement By H.E. Hamid Karzai on the LDCs

Statement By His Excellency Hamid Karzai

President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

At the

4th UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDCs)

Istanbul, Turkey

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

In the Name of God, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.

Your Excellency, Mr. Chairman;

Honorable Delegates;

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Before I begin my statement, it is an honor for Afghanistan to have been elected as a deputy to this conference and to the Least Developed Countries’ Secretariat. We are thankful and grateful.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

I am pleased to be among you today to renew our commitment to the fight against poverty and address the needs and aspirations of the Least Developed Countries. I join previous speakers in thanking His Excellency President Abdullah Gul, and the government and the people of Turkey for the excellent organization and warm hospitality accorded to all of us today. I also thank His Excellency the Secretary General and the Office of High Representative for LDC’s for their leadership of the consultative process that has resulted in the comprehensive report on the Least Developed Countries. My thanks also go to all organizations and individuals who have contributed to this noble task.

Excellencies; Ladies and Gentlemen:

Forty years have passed since the United Nations General Assembly recognized the status of LDCs by adopting Resolution 2768. Over this period, the ranks of LDCs have swelled to 48 from the initial 24. Today, close to a billion people in the world face hunger, disease, and illiteracy. This reality shows that our goals have remained unmet, and our commitments have been insufficient.

We hope that the Istanbul Program of Action will represent a new phase in global partnerships to effectively respond to the continuing and emerging challenges facing the Least Developed Countries.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

In Afghanistan, three decades of foreign interference and conflict have inflicted deep suffering on the Afghan people. We have been left with a complex set of challenges, including terrorism, transnational organized crime, socio-economic deprivation, drug production and trafficking, deteriorating ecology, and weak state institutions and infrastructure. These challenges continue to slow down the normalization of life, and inhibit economic growth in our country.

Excellencies:

In spite of these constraints and vulnerabilities, Afghanistan has registered important progress. We have adopted a constitution that preserves the equal rights of our citizens, irrespective of differences in gender, social status, and beliefs. We have an active civil society and free press, and a thriving private sector.  Our health and education sectors are operating with increased coverage and capacity. Almost 8.3 million children go to school today, while ten years ago, this numbers stood only to about seven hundred thousand students, out of whom, 35% are girls; over 75,000 students are enrolled in to the universities; over 80% of the population is receiving some form of basic health services; millions of children across the country are getting vaccinated against polio and other diseases. In 2004, we joined the international community in committing to a series of time-bound development goals. And in 2008 we finalized our National Development Strategy as the main instrument to promote stability, economic prosperity and a healthy society.

Of course, all of this would not have been possible without the generous contribution of our partners in the international community. With eighty percent of our population living in rural areas, we have invested in the establishment of an extensive network of community development councils through our National Solidarity Program. This program, already implemented in more than seventy percent of our 393 districts, has mobilized over 26,000 communities for local decision-making, ownership, and implementation of small-scale development projects.

To decrease, and eventually eliminate, our dependency on external resources, we are strengthening our agricultural base. We have rebuilt our infrastructure to connect markets and enhance economic activity both nationally and internationally. Our efforts are aimed at creating a favorable economic environment, a strong revenue base, and a sustainable set of government programs. We are rebuilding and repairing our irrigation and water systems, revitalizing under-utilized land, and improving agricultural technology. Further, we have expanded our national highway system, paving the way for enhanced movement of goods, raw materials, and people in the region and beyond.

We have made regional economic cooperation the cornerstone of Afghanistan’s economic growth and sustainable development. Our trade with our neighbors in the past ten years has increased many, many folds. Today the volume of trade between us and our neighbors stands at 2.5 billion dollars a year;   We have joined all regional economic forums and committed ourselves to important regional energy projects. Our national highways and rail- roads, once completed, will connect three key regions of the world, namely, Central Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East. Connectivity among these regions, passing through Afghanistan, will create a unified space of over 4 billion consumers and producers.

The National Priority Programs presented at the 2010 Kabul Conference, guide our efforts in transitioning to Afghan ownership and leadership for security, governance and socio-economic development. While recognizing that achieving our national development priorities is our responsibility, it will also depend, to a large extent, on the support we receive in the form financial resources, technical assistance, and building of our capacity. An important lesson learnt over the past decade is that “borrowed capacity” is not a viable guarantee for continuous progress and development. Effective mobilization and utilization of development assistance, geared to the needs, priorities, and conditions of our local communities will be essential for successfully taking our people out of the crunching poverty. To ensure that our achievements so far are preserved and serve as a foundation for our future progress, we have made peace-building and reconciliation cornerstones of our development efforts.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

The adoption of the Istanbul Program of Action represents a renewed and resilient commitment in addressing the challenges of the LDCs. As the report of the UN Secretary General indicates, even-though the pace of development in LDC’s improved somewhat during the previous decade, the overall goals of the Brussels Program of Action have not been met.

It is a welcome step that the Istanbul Program of Action recognizes the importance of productivity enhancement in LDCs. Without enhancing productivity, long-term and sustainable development will not be possible.

The experiences of the past decade clearly show that pledges and promises alone do not lead to sustainable progress. The commendable goals of the Istanbul Program of Action will only be realized through effective and genuine cooperation among all stakeholders. We must be able to incorporate the Istanbul Program of Action in our national development strategies as we deem effective. While development projects can and should be implemented through various organizations and entities, aid should be disbursed and accounted for through state budget to ensure transparency, accountability, and efficiency. Technical assistance to development should be demand-driven and consistent with the needs of its recipients.

Mr. Chairman; Ladies and Gentlemen:

The past years have seen an insufficient flow of South-to-South trade. South-South cooperation, complementing North-South cooperation, can be an important contributing factor in enabling LDC’s to integrate into global markets and achieve social and economic development. Land-locked developing countries face serious impediments to trade, owing to physical and non-physical hurdles, including tariff- and non-tariff barriers. Reducing tariffs and promoting South-South Foreign Direct Investment are crucial instruments for enhancing South-South Cooperation.

And with this done, ladies and gentlemen, the LDCs will definitely have a better opportunity in enhancing their economic ability and productivity. With this, I thank once again the government of Turkey, President Abdullah Gul and Mr. Chairman for this grand opportunity given to us and for the kind hospitality and I hope we can get where we all want to “which is LDCs becoming Developing Countries” and thank you very much.

Video of the Statement By H.E. Hamid Karzai on the LDCs

Statement By H.E. Hamid Karzai, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan At the 47th Munich Security Conference (MSC)

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

In the name of the almighty and most merciful Allah

Mr. Chairman,

Ambassador Ischinger,

Vice Chancellor Westerwelle,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen!

It is a great pleasure for me today Ambassador Ischinger to be here invited by you- my third actually- and thank you very much for giving Afghanistan the importance to be spoken about in a gathering distinguished as we see today. As I referred to earlier, last year, I spoke about a new phase for Afghanistan’s partnership with the international community. I am pleased to state that since then we have together made significant progress. Afghan security forces have benefited from an unprecedented surge, adding 70,000 members this year. In close collaboration with ISAF forces, we have regained the initiative in the fight against Al Qaeda. During my trips across the country and daily consultations with people of all walks of life I now here from them that security in the country is better than it was the year before or the year before that. So hope for Afghanistan is improving and the Afghan people and is on the rise.

Of course, these gains have been achieved at the cost of considerable blood and treasure. Let me therefore thank our partners in the international community for the sacrifices that they have endured in Afghanistan, given in Afghanistan and for the very valuable taxpayer money that all of you have spent in Afghanistan. Afghan civilians, who continue to bear the destruction of their lives and assets with dignity, deserve to be honored with the gift of sustainable peace and prosperity. I also want to express the gratitude of our people to the governments of the United States, to the government of Germany and other partners who have contributed to Afghanistan’s security and stability in times of economic difficulties.

We are now agreed on the goal of Afghan responsibility for security across the country by 2014. The Kabul and Lisbon conferences last year provided the basis for the development of an orderly, irreversible and collaborative process to reach this goal. The Afghan Transition Commission and the Joint Board with ISAF have made substantial progress on both the institutional and spatial dimensions of the process. We are determined to demonstrate Afghan leadership and ownership of the transition process. I will announce the first phase of transition on the Afghan New Year, which is on the 21 of March.

Ladies and Gentlemen

Goethe once argued that “we must always change, renew and rejuvenate ourselves; otherwise we harden.” Securing the world’s future from terrorism and other unconventional threats requires us to change our inherited mental models, renew our will to master the threats facing our interdependent world, and rejuvenate the national and international organizations.

Afghanistan suffers from a confluence of regional and global threats. Al Qaeda distorts the tolerant message of Islam and is a reaction to our globalized world. Narcotics and other forms of trafficking are the manifestation of the ugly side of globalization, as their vicious profit chain is made possible by world-wide financial and transportation networks. Al Qaeda, knowing that over a billion Muslims reject its message of hate, is dedicated to the destruction of the very fabric of our inter-connected societies. Our joint success in Afghanistan threatens their narrative, depriving them of their raison d’être. Hence their vicious efforts to subvert the idea of a stable and prosperous Afghanistan. Commitment to, and investment in Securing Afghanistan’s future, therefore, is central to both national and global security.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

The focus on transition in Afghanistan has clarified our vision of the future. The Afghanistan of 2015 will be characterized by an effective state bound by binding agreements with the United States and a long-term partnership with NATO and Europe. It will be a state participating actively in regional security and development.

Together we have invested heavily in the expansion of the Afghan security. The bill for our security forces is currently around $8 billion a year, (that is for the Afghan security forces) while the United States alone is spending over $100 billion per annum on its forces in our country. The security transition, therefore, is going to require transformation both by us and by ISAF-NATO, with more of a focus and investment in training and equipping. As we take the lead, NATO forces have to become catalysts for strengthening Afghan systems and capabilities. This in turn requires medium to long-term commitments to the financial costs of the security sector, to channeling resources through Afghan government systems, and to focusing on the quality and resilience of our institutions. A binding agreement between the United States and Afghanistan and a long-term partnership with NATO will ensure that investments made will lead to sustainable outcomes.

Simultaneously, we need to remind ourselves that Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world. Without concurrent investment in the creation of opportunities for the poor- the absolute majority of whom are under 20 years of age, and women- Afghanistan will continue to face difficult problems. These citizens must be given a sense of upward social mobility. They can then become stakeholders in a stable order and a society governed by the rule of law, rather than by being intimidated into submission by the use of force.

We have been clear all along that force alone will not bring peace. Afghanistan does not present a danger or a threat to any of our neighbors, near or far. Moreover, with the rise of the continental powers of China, India and Russia, it is our location and mineral wealth that will be of central importance to the Asian continental economy.  They provide the possibility for our country to become a new Asian roundabout. It is time that the 19th century politics of spheres of influence and destabilization are replaced by a 21st century politics of engagement, collective security and economic development. Indeed, the greatest beneficiaries of peace after the end of conflict in any country are its neighbors. We need, therefore, to muster our imagination and design cooperative security and economic arrangements for Afghanistan and its neighbors that would allow us- collectively- to lift our people from poverty to prosperity. The Peace Jirga of June 2010 expressed our national consensus on Peace and Reconciliation, setting the enabling framework for proceeding further. We request the support of our neighbors and international partners to help us speed up this vital process and I am grateful to Vice-chancellor Westerwelle for dwelling in detail on the peace process and for backing for it from the German people.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

Achieving our 2015 vision depends on our total national commitment to building an effective state and an inclusive economic, social and political order. While our international partners have been generous with their assistance, our efforts have not always been goal oriented, coordinated or reinforced across the security, governance and development domains. We have both made mistakes. As the success of the security transition depends upon building the institutions of a state bound by rule of law, we must judge all our efforts by whether they are enhancing the capability and effectiveness of the Afghan state, or if they are actually reducing its capability.

On our side, to achieve this aim we must take stock of our constitutional structures and of the mechanisms of international assistance. By law, we are a unitary Presidential system. We are undertaking an intensive examination of municipal, district and provincial level governance. A false choice between centralization and decentralization, however, must be rejected. The issue is alignment between the levels and functions of government and the delivery of services to the citizenry. Accountability is imperative in this regard through checks and balances across the three branches of government. In addition, therefore, we are committed to enacting laws that will ensure that our constitution is institutionalized through daily practices and that the state is able to guarantee law and order.

Excellencies!

We have fashioned the concept of national programs and the results- in areas ranging from health and rural development to telecoms- have been very impressive. We are now committed to designing a new set of national programs across other areas of governance functionality in support of an effective state and a good economy. At the same time, our bureaucracy, both because of its inherited structures and ill-coordinated technical assistance from our partners, has become a patchwork of different approaches to governance. A clear and consistent reform of the civil service and investment in higher education in our country must underpin new systems. And here, I would particularly request all those countries helping Afghanistan with rebuilding of the civil service and the delivery of the good governance to help us to bring to Afghanistan a civil service that is efficient, modern and apolitical, a task I am engaged in rather every week in our cabinet meetings.

Realization of this agenda on your side requires a fundamental shift away from reliance on parallel organizations and mechanisms that bypass the state. The global lessons are clear- these substitution-systems undermine the capacity of the state rather than building it. I have asked the UN agencies to create a “one UN system”. At the London and Kabul conferences we obtained a commitment that fifty percent of international funds must be channeled within two years through the Afghan budget and that eighty percent of foreign assistance must be aligned with the objectives of Afghan people. These commitments must be honored.

When I spoke of parallel structures, ladies and gentlemen, those who are involved in Afghanistan know what I mean. By parallel structures I mean, private security firms, by parallel structures, I mean PRT’s, by parallel structures, I mean direct delivery of money and support to provincial officers, and by parallel structures, I mean contractual mechanisms and the spending of resources through channels other than the afghan government. We have seen in the past ten years that they don’t produce the desired results rather they are contributing to weakened afghan government and to impediments to the growth of the afghan state structures and good governance.

Such an approach would allow us to make governance operational and measurable. Good governance is too important to be left as a slogan. Making it operational needs efforts to tackle the root causes rather than symptoms of graft. We have identified the drivers of corruption, and find a complex inter-linkage between domestic and international factors that produce a crooked playing field.

This year, we intend to focus on the drivers of corruption. This includes developing urban land management programs that ensure firm property and transaction rights, and put in place public-private and community partnerships for housing development. We will continue to simplify the process of interaction between the citizens and the government which means reducing procedures and improving laws and regulations to make work easier for our people.

The two areas that require joint action in terms of corruption are contract management and the regulation of key imports. ISAF is the largest contractor in Afghanistan, and its contracts have had unintended consequences. With US and NATO we are overhauling the system to make contracting an instrument of good- rather than bad- governance. Regulation of the imports of fuels, food, construction materials and pharmaceuticals- commodities on which the poor depend- also requires partnership with the global and regional public and private sectors. Dealing with narcotics necessitates efforts to transform Afghanistan’s agriculture through access to regional and global markets.

Together, we have created a platform for a security transition and for a broader, sustainable political and economic transformation in Afghanistan. Clarity of vision and agreement on a collaborative process of partnership will lead to a tolerant Muslim country firmly anchored in a regional framework of peace and security and bound by enduring ties to the United States, Europe and Japan, which can act as a responsible stakeholder in regional peace and prosperity as well.

Our ambitious goal and the determined efforts of our enemies require that we continually evaluate our efforts. Previously, Germany hosted the Bonn and Berlin Conferences that initiated and sustained the new phase of our democratic history. The government of Germany is now partnering with us on a further event in Bonn at the end of this year. This will be a conference where Afghans drive the process, and together with the international community, take stock of our partnership during 2011. It will also allow us the opportunity to calibrate our objectives for 2012, 2013 and 2014. and here once again, I would like to the government of Germany for being with us all along in the past ten years, of course providing Afghanistan every opportunity of progress towards the betterment of the Afghan people. Thank you very much Mr. Vice-chancellor for that.

Ladies and Gentlemen

The threats that our shared objectives face in Afghanistan and the region are the ones that deserve our attention all along and across all areas of activity. The sacrifices that your members of your countries have paid, men and women, the money you have spent has produced a lot of good for the Afghan people. Some of the journey is left and that journey will not be easy, but is a journey worth taking and the steps we are all taking together will definitely make us reach our final objective, which is a secure, stable and properly governed Afghanistan in a better region and partner with the international community with a lot of gratitude from the afghan people.

Thank you.

Statement by President Karzai in OSCE Summit in Astana

بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم

Excellency President Nursultan Nazarbayev;

Excellency Secretary General Ban Ki Moon;

Excellencies Heads of State and Government;

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the people of Afghanistan, may I extend my cordial gratitude to President Nazarbayev and the brotherly people of Kazakhstan for the very warm hospitality extended to us. I also like to express my gratitude to the chairmanship for assigning Afghanistan a high priority on the OSCE’s agenda over the past one year.

Mr. Chairman,

Under your able chairmanship, the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has made considerable progress and has taken important steps in areas such as security, environmental protection and combating organized crime.

Afghanistan appreciates the increasingly close relationship with the OSCE since being granted the status of partner State in the year 2003. The 2007 Madrid Ministerial Council decision on OSCE engagement with Afghanistan marked a milestone in the extension of our co-operation. Officials from concerned ministries of Afghanistan have benefited from a number of valuable programs. Another good example has been the OSCE contribution in sending observers to Afghanistan’s elections, fighting against organized crimes and helping build the capacity of our border security forces.

Excellences,

After three decades of war and destruction, Afghanistan has entered a new phase of its political, social and economic life where most of the OSCE member states are supporting us in our efforts for reconstruction, capacity building and counter terrorism. Afghanistan has achieved considerable progress in developing a vibrant economy, strengthened state institutions and rebuilding infrastructure, empowering institutions of public service particularly health, education and promotion of rule of law.

We believe all these achievements give us the strength and determination to prepare Afghanistan to gradually take over the responsibility for providing its own security within the next four years.

During the deliberations of the NATO Summit in Lisbon last month, we agreed with NATO and ISAF member states that the process of transition to Afghanistan should be completed by the end of 2014. The agreement with the international community to hand over responsibility to Afghans does not mean an end to our continued cooperation with NATO. We will continue to need support from NATO and regional countries against the common threats we all face.

Mr. Chairman, Excellencies,

International terrorism is a major threat to Afghanistan, our region and the world. Afghanistan is the first and foremost victim of this menace. While the Afghan people are keen participants of the campaign against terrorism, they are suffering the consequences of 30 years of war and instability. It is the utmost wish of the Afghan people to see peace and stability in Afghanistan. To that end, the Afghan Consultative Peace Jirga in July 2010 recommended that a High Council for Peace be formed to pursue peace and reconciliation. We hope that the international community and our neighbors  will support Afghanistan in bringing peace to our people.

Mr. Chairman,

Three decades of war and instability resulting in the destruction of our state institutions and economy have contributed to the growth in the production and trafficking of narcotics. We have made considerable progress over the past nine years in reducing poppy cultivation. While hundreds of traffickers and smugglers have been apprehended and are serving prison terms, hundreds of our security forces and civilians have lost their lives in this cause.

A study carried out by the UNODC indicates over forty percent drop this year in production of narcotics in Afghanistan. It is widely recognized that the present threats and challenges we are facing in Afghanistan are to a great extent symptoms of a much larger malady, widespread in our region and beyond.

An effective fight against the menace of narcotics therefore requires a cohesive international approach to effectively deal with the international drug trafficking, smuggling of precursors and supply and demand networks.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Afghanistan shares common borders with three OSCE member countries. While our region is exposed to international terrorist and criminal networks, we believe that in addition to the bilateral cooperation between Afghanistan and the three OSCE member states in our neighborhood, we need to bolster our regional cooperation in order to reach the OSCE objectives.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

For Afghans, regional cooperation remains a key for effective regional integration. For this purpose, we are focusing on a number of projects of significant importance such as energy, roads and railway networks through Afghanistan to the region. These projects will connect Central Asia through Afghanistan to the Indian Ocean, the Persian Gulf and beyond. Toward this goal, Afghanistan is making strenuous efforts and working on a number of special programs including the transmission of gas and electricity from Central Asia to Afghanistan and the neighboring South Asian Countries.

Regional transit and trade is another key area that we must continue to focus on. We believe that a more vibrant transit and trade environment in our region not only contributes to the economic development of the entire region, but also serves as an important tool for regional integration. Annual imports from the neighboring and regional countries to Afghanistan are worth billions of dollars. Infrastructure development in Afghanistan has facilitated the way for goods to travel through the country and therefore serves as an important element for regional economic growth.

Mr. Chairman,

I want to take this opportunity to thank you and the people of Kazakhstan for the provision of 1000 scholarships for our young Afghan students.

I am confident that Afghanistan will remain a priority on the OSCE’s agenda in 2011. I, once again, would like to thank the people and government of Kazakhstan for their warm reception and for organizing this important event. I conclude my statement by wishing you all a successful meeting.

Thank you