Sunday, November 23, 2014

Statement by His Excellency Hamid Karzai President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Istanbul Conference for Afghanistan:Security & Cooperation at the Heart of Asia

Istanbul

2 November 2011

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Excellency President Abdullah Gul,

Excellencies Foreign Ministers,

Distinguished guests,

Thank you my brother, President Abdullah Gul, for hosting this conference and, as always, for the legendary hospitality provided to us here in Istanbul. This great city is not just the cradle of many civilisations, but also today a venue of unparalleled quality for promoting international cooperation.

As we meet, the effect of last week’s earthquake in the city of Van and the tragic loss of life it inflicted is on our minds. I take this

opportunity to express, once again, my heartfelt condolences to you, Mr President, and to my brothers and sisters in Turkey for the unfortunate losses.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Today, together with common friends and supporters from outside this region, we gather for the first time in a unique format – the Heart of Asia – which assembles all the major countries of the wider region surrounding Afghanistan, from China to Turkey, from Russia to India, and others in between. Indeed, apart from being yet another example of Turkey’s much valued leadership in strengthening regional cooperation, today’s meeting is also a significant milestone in Afghanistan’s long quest for regional harmony and cooperation.

The region has always been a crucial factor in Afghanistan’s vision for building a stable, prosperous and democratic future. Ten years ago, with help from the international community, we undertook to rebuild Afghanistan from the ruins of war, and laid the foundations of a free, pluralistic and democratic society – a society that is ruled by law and underpinned by just and enduring institutions. In this effort, we have achieved enormous progress, which is greater by comparison than any other period in our country’s history. Nonetheless, the most fervent desire of the Afghan people – which is to live in peace and security – has not yet been achieved.

Terrorist networks, by far the biggest threat to our security, continue to enjoy sanctuaries outside our borders from where they conduct their merciless campaign of bloodshed and destruction. Therefore, until we see a more concerted effort across the region to confront terrorism, particularly with a view to addressing the source and roots of the scourge, peace in Afghanistan will remain illusive.

Ladies and gentlemen,

2011 is a crucial year for Afghanistan as we expect to turn the corner on some of our greatest national priorities, including the Peace Process and the Transition of security responsibilities from the international forces to Afghan authority.

The Peace Process, until recently led by Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani, who is tragically no longer among us, has been a sincere effort, underpinned by our commitment to make the political process in the country more inclusive. As such, all Taliban and other militant leaders can join the Peace Process provided that they give up violence, break ties with Al Qaida, and return to peaceful lives under the Afghan Constitution. However, as recent setbacks have indicated, the Peace Process will not succeed unless we are able to get the top leadership of the Taliban, based in Pakistan, to join it.

Our hope is that, with help from our brothers in Pakistan, we will manage to wean away the Taliban leadership from some of the long-established networks of support they enjoy outside Afghanistan and integrate them into the Peace Process.

Another crucial national priority set in motion this year is the Transition Process, which will see the complete transfer of security responsibility from international forces to Afghans by the end of 2014. The first phase of Transition took place in July, and I expect to announce the second phase in the near future. With the implementation of the second phase, nearly fifty percent of Afghanistan’s population will come under the security umbrella provided by Afghanistan’s own national security institutions. Once completed, Transition will signify the achievement of the most important strategic goal shared by Afghans and our international partners, namely the emergence of a sovereign Afghanistan that is self-reliant, and is the peaceful home for all Afghans.

Transition, of course, is not limited to security. For Afghanistan to become truly self-reliant we will need a comprehensive economic transition, which will take a much longer time than the transition of security. Economic transition will require the continuation of the steadfast support of our international partners far beyond 2014.

In this context, we in Afghanistan look forward to a major international conference on Afghanistan, to be held in Bonn, Germany, next month. Marking the 10th anniversary of the Bonn Process of 2001, the Conference will be an opportunity to take stock of the major achievements that Afghanistan has realised over the past decade in partnership with the international community.

At the Bonn Conference, we will share our vision for the next ten years – it will be a vision of consolidating Afghanistan as a stable and democratic country with a prospering economy. And we will seek a commitment from our friends in the international community to continue to support us as we work towards that vision. We will call for a new paradigm of cooperation between Afghanistan and the international community – one that recognizes the sovereignty of Afghanistan and the centrality of the Afghan state as paramount.

Ladies and gentlemen,

With a view to the future, Afghanistan seeks to build greater confidence and stronger ties with the region.

True to our belief that Afghanistan can only develop and remain stable in a regional environment that is conducive to stability and growth, we will work to foster constructive engagement across the region and play our role in regional economic integration.

Last month, Afghanistan signed an agreement on strategic partnership with the Republic of India. This truly historic agreement will take the age-old relationship between the two countries to an even higher level in the interest of both nations as well as the region. The time-tested friendship and solidarity between Afghanistan and the Republic of Turkey is another source of confidence and support for my country. Indeed, our ever deepening friendship with India and Turkey is a model for how we seek to shape our future relationship with some of our key regional partners that are not only tied to us by cultural and historical bonds but are also extending an enormously constructive hand to the Afghan people today.

Pakistan and Iran are our two immediate neighbours with whom we have very deep cultural and demographic affinities. Both nations have hosted millions of Afghan refugees in their midst for over three decades – an act of generosity and benevolence we Afghans will never forget. Over the past ten years, our country’s relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran have deepened and expanded for which I am grateful to the Iranian leadership.

Our relationship with Pakistan too has evolved considerably and enormously. I have often called Pakistan and Afghanistan as conjoined twins. The mutual dependence of both countries in terms of security, as well as social and economic development, bears out this analogy. Yesterday, thanks to President Gul’s hospitality, I had fruitful discussions with my brother President Asif Ali Zardari about the vital importance of the profoundly close relations that Afghanistan and Pakistan need to have.

We are also looking to China and Russia as two major countries of the region and as major partners in the stability and development of Afghanistan as well as the whole region. China and Russia, as well as India and Turkey, have enormous sway at the global level and, as such, can be very influential in shaping a peaceful, friendly and economically prospering region. In addition, our relations with our immediate and near neighbours to the north – Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan – have grown strongly in the last few years where the potential for further expansion, in the interest of the region as a whole, is even greater.

We in Afghanistan attach great importance to the Middle East and are proud of our relations, in particular, with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt – three countries that are represented here today.

Our relations with the Middle East are not just anchored in religious and historical affinities, but also in our gratitude for the solidarity these countries have shown to Afghanistan over the years. In particular, I wish to recognize the personal commitment of Khadem ul Haramein Al Sharifein, His Majesty King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, to Afghanistan’s search for peace and security. I wish to reiterate the desire of the Afghan people to have His Majesty’s continued and much appreciated guidance and support.

I wish to emphasize that our regional vision, and our keen interest in deepening our relationship with regional partners, is in no way contradictory to our enduring partnerships with countries outside the region. We attach enormous importance to the Strategic Partnership we are currently negotiating with the United States and other partners, including the UK and the European Union, which we hope will guarantee Afghanistan’s security and stability, as well as assist our future economic development. Let me be very clear on this point: neither our Strategic Partnership with the United States, nor any other partnerships we will forge in the future, shall be a threat to our neighbours or any other country. We will never enter into any partnership that may pose a risk to our neighbours or jeopardise Afghanistan’s role as a peaceful, friendly and constructive member of the regional community.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Our today’s meeting in Istanbul is, indeed, a momentous regional gathering, which promises new horizons for regional cooperation, and where the real pull factor is the plethora of common challenges and opportunities. We all know well that the region we share has captured the world’s imagination for both desirable and undesirable reasons.

On the one hand, ours is a region that is blessed with unrivalled resources. Together, we are the custodians of a glorious heritage that underpins human advancement in the intellectual, spiritual, artistic and scientific realms. Today, the powerhouses of this region, notably China, India, Russia and Turkey, are driving the global economy. The future of an interconnected, just and more equitable world depends on the future of this region.

On the other hand, some of these opportunities may never be taken, nor much of our potential ever realized, unless we succeed in overcoming the enormous obstacles we face to legitimate interaction and co-operation. Terrorism is a menacing threat that does not just affect Afghanistan and Pakistan, but also other countries in our region, notably India, Turkey, China and Russia. The narcotics trade threatens the wellbeing of our nations.

As the frontline in the fight against terrorism and the global narcotics trade, Afghanistan has served as a bulwark to the common security of the region. Despite our enormous sacrifices, we are determined to continue to play this role.

To confront the common threats that endanger our security and peace, and to realize the potentials of regional economic cooperation that is so crucial for our common future, the region must come together in cooperation and solidarity to a degree that it has not yet achieved. We must boldly address the political differences that divide the region, and remove the deficit of trust and confidence that exists among some of us. Today, in Istanbul, we are coming together to subscribe to a new vision of regional cooperation, and agree to work together towards creating an atmosphere of true friendship and cooperation across the whole region.

For this vision of regional cooperation to succeed, the role of a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan is indispensable. Afghanistan can facilitate movement of goods and people across Asia. We can serve as a corridor of transit and trade. Today, I wish to invite Afghanistan’s fellow regional countries to see Afghanistan as an opportunity, and as a catalyst for advancing regional integration.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In calling our region the Heart of Asia, this Conference takes cue from one of the Muslim world’s most renowned poets and philosophers, Mohammad Iqbal Lahori, who said: “Asia is a body of water and soil, where the Afghan nation is the heart; its prosperity brings prosperity to Asia, and its decay brings decay to Asia”. The literal sense of Iqbal’s poem is as true as the wisdom in his analogy, and today it is borne out by history.

Thank you.

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

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