Friday, November 21, 2014

Statement By H.E. Hamid Karzai at the International Afghanistan Conference in Bonn,Germany

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Honourable Chancellor Angela Merkel,

Honourable Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon

Excellencies Foreign Ministers, and distinguished delegates,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a tremendous honour to join you, Madam Chancellor, in welcoming the distinguished participants to this International Afghanistan Conference in Bonn. This city is where, ten years ago, Afghanistan began a journey of historic significance – a journey out of the dark decades of oppression and neglect towards a future of promise and hope. You have all been our companions in this journey, and it is a great privilege to have you here today to mark the tenth anniversary of our shared commitment and efforts.

I am enormously grateful to Germany for the age-old friendship we have enjoyed, and in particular for Germany’s solidarity and commitment over the past decade. I also thank the people and Government of Germany for the generous hospitality extended to us on this occasion.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Ten years ago today, Afghanistan turned a new page in its relations with the international community. Since then, Afghanistan has brought the world together in meaningful cooperation, in pursuit of shared goals. Together we have spent blood and treasure fighting terrorism, and taken steps to stabilize and rebuild Afghanistan after decades of conflict. Today in Bonn, history is again being made as a sovereign and democratic Afghanistan comes together with the international community to deepen and broaden this critical partnership for security and cooperation in the region and beyond.

For Afghanistan, the past ten years have brought opportunity, growth and improvement in people’s lives on a scale never before seen in our history. We have created an inclusive political process, brought Afghans together in unity, and ensured that Afghanistan once again becomes the home of all Afghans. We have revived Afghanistan’s shattered national and local institutions of governance, and laid the foundations of a pluralistic, democratic system of government. Basic rights and freedoms of citizens, including the right to free expression, assembly and political participation, are guaranteed by our Constitution. Our security institutions, the destruction of which in the 1990s was perhaps the most dispiriting blow to Afghan sovereignty, have been reconstituted. Afghan women have come out of total seclusion during the Taliban rule to take their rightful place in the society, making 20 percent of our civil service, 27 percent of our parliament, and 39 percent of students in our classrooms.

At the same time, rule of law has steadily grown, as has the delivery of public services to the population. The coverage of basic health services has increased from 9 percent of the population to over 60 percent; school enrolment has grown from under one million to 8.4 million. We have built more roads in the last ten years than in the entire history of the country. Starting from zero in 2001, today 60 percent of Afghans own a phone. The media sector has seen phenomenal development – there are today 50 private TV networks, 150 radio stations and over 800 newspapers and periodicals in the country. Thousands of new enterprises have been created, and there are more Afghans employed in the private sector than ever before in Afghanistan. In short, starting from a dismal baseline ten years ago, our economy has seen tremendous growth as our GDP has almost tripled.

I hasten to say, however, that our shared goal of a stable, self-reliant and democratic Afghanistan is still far from being achieved. Indeed, the challenges that remain are significant and have the potential to derail our progress and reverse our achievements. Poverty and under-development are still our top challenges. Our young democracy remains fragile and the Afghan people are yet to see their aspirations realized through strong, effective and accountable national institutions. Chronic under-investment for state capacity building, the existence of parallel structures and the permeation of corruption and a culture of impunity have undermined the development of institutions in terms of strength and credibility.

Our biggest challenge, of course, arises from insecurity, which has taken a massive toll on the lives of our people, and blunted our progress in all other areas of recovery, reform and development. Al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations, of course, have been significantly weakened. However, the wider regional dimensions of the terrorist threat have been neglected and the problem of sanctuaries outside Afghanistan has remained unaddressed. As a result, terrorists continue to wage a vicious war against peace and tranquility. While this remains the case, Afghanistan’s stability will continue to be at grave risk, as will the long-term security of the entire region and the wider world.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We in Afghanistan will continue to move on the path we have chosen, and are determined to overcome the remaining challenges on the way ahead. Allow me, Ladies and Gentlemen, to share my vision for the future of Afghanistan, and set out the steps we will take to achieve that vision. We Afghans have a fervent desire to live in a peaceful country where we can enjoy a dignified, happy and prosperous life in unity and harmony. We want to build Afghanistan into a stable, democratic and prosperous country, a country that is the peaceful home of all Afghans, and that enjoys friendly, mutually rewarding relations with all its near and extended neighbors and beyond. We are determined that Afghanistan will never again fall to the hands of those who will turn it into a source of threat and harm to others. We want our country to be a genuine asset to security and peace in an integrated region.

This is the vision of every Afghan– it is a vision that drives our ambitions, and motivates our untiring efforts towards a better and secure future. In moving towards achieving this vision, we will consolidate the accomplishments of the past decade and continue our efforts with determination. We will work to fight corruptions more effectively and further reform government institutions to render them more efficient, transparent, and accountable. We will enforce the rule of law and pursue further judicial reforms. In particular, as I promised to the Afghan people at the recent Traditional Loya Jirga, we will focus on reforming the civil service so that it is apolitical, secure and capably at the service of the Afghan people. We will reform and Afghanize the electoral process to ensure that future elections are transparent, free, and insulated against fraud and interference

Last week, the second phase of the Security Transition began in Parwan Province. Hopefully we will complete this second phase by the end of February 2012, whereby Afghanistan’s national security forces will have full responsibility for nearly 50 percent of the population. Transition is not only a solid security objective, but also an imperative that responds to the Afghan people’s desire for self-reliance. Therefore, I reiterate today that we are fully determined to complete the Transition process as planned by 2014. At the same time, we call on the international community, in particular our allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, to continue and expand the scope of training and equipping Afghanistan’s security forces in order to enhance their capacity to defend the country’s sovereignty and protect its citizens.

We will also continue to pursue the peace and reconciliation effort as the surest path to a durable peace in Afghanistan. Regrettably, our peace efforts suffered a tremendous setback with the unfortunate assassination last September of Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani, the former president of Afghanistan and the Head of the High Peace Council. I recently consulted the representatives of the Afghan people at the Traditional Loya Jirga about the future of the peace process, and was pleased to see that the Afghan people want us to pursue the peace efforts, including our bilateral cooperation with the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Our principles for the peace process and a negotiated outcome remain unchanged. The political process will continue to be inclusive, open to Taliban and other militants who renounce violence, break ties with international terrorism, accept Afghan Constitution and return to peaceful life. I would like to reiterate our eager desire for Khadem-e- Haramain Sharifain ,His Majesty King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to continue to guide and support the Afghan peace effort.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As we look to the Transformation Decade beyond 2014, Afghanistan will require continued financial support from its international partners in order to consolidate the gains of the past decade and to realize greater security and economic sustainability. The people of Afghanistan are looking to this Conference for a clear affirmation of commitment to make security transition and economic progress irreversible.

In the months ahead, we must also engage in a serious debate with our international partners about the future economic development of Afghanistan. I thank the Government of Japan, another friend and steadfast supporter of Afghanistan, for the decision to host a conference next year in Tokyo focusing on Afghanistan’s future economic agenda. Consistent with the Kabul Process, the international aid strategy must shift from stabilization to long-term development, with aid effectiveness as a top priority.

We will give priority to implementing large-scale infrastructure projects, creating jobs, and developing Afghanistan’s productive sectors, particularly agriculture, energy and mining. Our country sits on trillions of dollars worth of under-ground resources, and we are working hard to exploit them in the interest of our long-term growth and prosperity.

Ultimately, of course, the future of Afghanistan will depend on the prospects of economic integration in the region of which Afghanistan is the centre. Thanks to its location, Afghanistan has a key role as a land bridge for transit, trade and connectivity. A stable, secure and developed Afghanistan is not just a noble desire by Afghans and our international friends, it is a necessity if the region is to achieve security and meaningful economic integration. Afghanistan is ready to embrace the region in friendship, solidarity and partnership.

Last month in Istanbul, thanks to the leadership of our friend the brotherly Republic of Turkey, twelve of Afghanistan’s near and extended neighbours came together to discuss the challenges within the region that prevent cooperation and the need for greater confidence building. I hope that the Istanbul Process will continue to generate even greater momentum for cooperation at the regional level when the region meets again at the Ministerial Conference in Kabul in June 2012.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

Many of us around this table have met before at similar conferences on Afghanistan. But this conference is unlike others. Today is the culmination of a decade of joint struggle, shared efforts and many sacrifices on both sides. As we gather in Bonn today, we have reasons to celebrate ten years of partnership between Afghanistan and the international community, the truly significant achievements we have had together, and the difference they have made to the lives of the Afghan people. We Afghans are grateful to the international community, to all of you around this table, for helping us on this path, and for the sacrifices you have rendered alongside the Afghan people.

At the same time, since the journey for Afghanistan still continues, the Afghan people ask of friends and partners to continue to remain committed to the vision of a peaceful, prosperous and democratic Afghanistan, and to stay the course with us as we reach that vision. Last month in Kabul, over 2200 delegates to the Traditional Loya Jirga, men and women from all corners of Afghanistan, spoke in total unison for lasting relations with the international community. The Jirga gave a resounding affirmation of our efforts to engage in enduring partnerships, and set out conditions that will have to be met as the partnership between Afghanistan and the international community evolves. The aim of these partnerships is to help safeguard Afghanistan’s security and stability as well as assist our future economic development. In this regard, we welcome the decision of the European Union to enter into negotiations for a long-term partnership with us.. We believe that such partnerships will be beneficial not only for Afghanistan but also for the region, and shall not be a threat to our neighbors or any other country.

Ladies and Gentlemen

Responsibility for the future of Afghanistan rests with Afghans, and we Afghans will not fail or falter in assuming that responsibility. However, your continued solidarity, commitment and support will be crucial, particularly in the period between 2014 and 2024, so that we can consolidate our gains and continue to address the challenges that remain. The Afghan people do not wish to remain a burden on the generosity of the international community for a single day longer than absolutely necessary. But to make our success certain, and our progress irreversible, we will need your steadfast support for at least another decade.

Thank you.

President Karzai Condoles with UN Secretary General over the killing of UN Staff in Mazar-e-Sharif

Arg, Kabul – H.E. Hamid Karzai, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan spoke this morning on phone with UN Secretary General, Ban Ki moon to convey his grief over the attack on Friday on the UN Assistance Mission Office in Mazar-e-Sharif in which seven of his staff were killed.

The President asked the Secretary General to convey the grief and the sadness of the people and the government of Afghanistan to the mourning families of the victims.

President Karzai described as “ruthless” the yesterday’s violent attack and affirmed that the government of Afghanistan is committed to launching an all-out probe into the incident and bringing to justice those responsible.

Stressing the importance of promoting a peaceful co-existence and harmony among the religions, President Karzai asked the Secretary General to play his role in raising public awareness on the significance of resorting to non-violence and non-desecration of faith and dialogue among religions particularly in countries where such sacrilegious practices were carried out.

News Unit,

Office of the Spokesperson to the President of Afghanistan,

Presidential Palace (Arg), Kabul

Ph:

+93 (20) 210 2853

+93 (20) 210 3705

www.president.gov.af

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.