Sunday, August 31, 2014

Statement By H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Least Developing Countries Meeting of Foreign Ministers

Statement By H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, Minister of Foreign Affairs of

Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Least Developing Countries Meeting of Foreign Ministers


Mr. Chairman,

Let me begin by conveying, on behalf of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, our sincere appreciation to our friends of the Republic of Nepal for their successful leadership of the Least Developing Countries. Your able leadership at a time when the world is confronting various challenges helps us to maintain our unity, expand and strengthen cooperation among the members of our group.

Mr. Chairman,

Not long ago, the Fourth United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries was held in Istanbul, generously hosted by of our brothers the people and government of Turkey, where the Istanbul Declaration and Programme of Action was adopted. This strategic document will remain a roadmap for us to achieve the eradication of poverty and our internationally-agreed development goals. It is imperative that we implement the Istanbul Programme of Action, and integrate its provisions into our national development policies.

Afghanistan also welcomes the report of the Secretary-General on the Outcome of the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011-2020.

Mr. Chairman,

Afghanistan is concerned over the multiple global crises of extensive poverty, climate change, financial and economic crises, and threats of terrorism, volatile energy prices and food shortages.  All of these challenges have had enormous deleterious effects on the implementation and realisation of our MDGs.

As LDCs are heavily reliant on agricultural products, improving and increasing productive capacity and competitiveness with the assistance of our development partners is of significant importance.

Conversely, the disastrous effects of climate change have become one of the greatest obstacles to the prosperity and sustainable development of LDCs.  Natural disasters such as flooding, droughts, earthquakes and mudslides are becoming more frequent in our part of the world. None of us can afford to experience the devastating effects of such calamities, on our people, our agriculture, our environment, and our infrastructure.  As members of LDCs, we must come together for a strong common position on issues related to climate change and environmental degradation.

Mr. Chairman,

In a globalized world, we cannot and should not isolate ourselves from international markets and cooperation with the rest of the world. However, it is only prudent for us to adopt policies to free ourselves from total dependence on international assistance and vulnerability to the shocks of the international market. Afghanistan fully supports the position of the LDCs, in calling upon the G-8 countries to give due consideration to the LDC agenda and take appropriate measures to ensure that the concerns of LDCs are taken fully into account in their decisions.

Afghanistan further supports the LDCs position on the need for strengthening the Global System of Trade Preferences among developing countries (GSTP), and increasing the volume of development assistance and financial flows, technology transfer, and duty-free, quota-free market access being provided by countries of the South to LDCs. We welcome such initiatives and call for other members in the South to do the same.

Mr. Chairman,

Afghanistan has achieved great progress over the past 10 years. However, we still live in a part of the world where trans-national threats such as terrorism, extremism, poverty, organized crime and natural disasters still exist. Terrorism is among the dominant challenges in our region. In terrorism, we all share a common enemy, regardless of our cultural and religious differences. The terrorism threat we face is part of a complex and sophisticated network, responsible for attacks across our region, in defeating terrorism will not be possible without an effective global strategy. We must focus more on addressing terrorist safe-havens and sanctuaries in our region, which operate as the life-line for terrorist activity. Unless this is achieved, all our efforts will be in vain.

Widespread poverty and a lack of socio-economic opportunities are another critical challenge which we are confronted with. Afghanistan is pursing regional cooperation as the cornerstone of our overall efforts to secure peace, stability and prosperity. In that regard, we are working with the region and the international community to revive Afghanistan’s central position in promoting and developing regional trade and commerce through the New Silk Road Initiative, to the shared benefit of all involved.   In that regard, like other LDCs Afghanistan is looking forward to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) to be held in Brazil next year. Rio+20 will focus on the green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, and the institutional framework for sustainable development. We call upon the international community to seize this opportunity to strengthen the coordination and coherence between the United Nations system and all other multilateral financial, trade and development institutions to support economic growth, poverty eradication and sustainable development in the LDCs.

In conclusion, let me reiterate Afghanistan’s steadfast commitment to advancing the goals of the Istanbul Declaration and Programme of Action and repeat our assurances of our highest consideration and closest cooperation in working with all of you.

Thank you.

Statement By H.E. Foreign Minister Dr. Zalmai Rassoul at The NATO-ISAF Foreign Ministers Meeting

Secretary General Rasmussen,

Excellencies, ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me to begin by expressing my sincere appreciations for being invited to attend today’s important meeting.  Thank you Secretary General Rasmussen for this initiative, and for your leadership in driving NATO’s critical mission in Afghanistan.  I also thank my colleague, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, for hosting all of us today in this beautiful city of Berlin.

It is my second time to have the honour of addressing NATO in my capacity as Foreign Minister of Afghanistan, a country where you are all engaged in a truly historical effort to help build a stable and democratic country.  We Afghans value the contributions that NATO, as well as each of its individual member states, have made to this common effort, and we honour the common sacrifices that have been made.  We do realize, as I am sure you do, that together we have been through some hard times and have had to overcome difficult challenges.  However, together we have also achieved tremendous successes, and we in Afghanistan look forward to sustaining and expanding our friendship and collaboration into the future.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

With President Hamid Karzai’s announcement of 22 March 2011, Afghanistan is now officially in the Transition process, a process that is marked by important benchmarks and crucial deadlines.  As per agreements at last year’s Lisbon Summit, as well as principles set out in the Kabul Conference, the Transition process will see the gradual transfer of lead responsibility in the security sector from NATO to Afghan Security Forces starting this summer.  At the heart of the Transition process is an Afghan determination to assume responsibility and leadership, as well as a commitment by our international partners to support this goal.  The Transition agenda is undoubtedly ambitious and it will require extraordinary effort from both Afghans and our partners in the international community to succeed.  However, in the minds of us Afghans, there is absolutely no alternative.  There is a strong, unshakable consensus among all Afghans that we must stand on our own feet and take our destiny in our own hands, and to do so sooner rather than later.

In addition to our mutual moral commitments, the success of the Transition agenda will depend on the implementation of the roadmap we have together prepared.  Thanks to some hard work done by Afghan and international entities concerned in the security effort, under the overall supervision of the Inteqal, or Transition, Commission, seven provinces and districts have been identified for the first handover phase.  These include the provinces of Panjsher, Bamiyan, and Kabul, the cities of Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif, Laskhkar Gah and Mehterlam.  Work is currently underway on putting in place the necessary capacity in these areas in order to ensure a smooth and successful transfer of responsibility in these and other areas.

Allow me to highlight the key steps both Afghans and our international partners must take to ensure the success of the Transition process.  To begin with, we must continue and expedite the building up and expansion of Afghanistan’s security institutions.  We must focus on the qualitative development of these institutions as well as the quantitative aspect.  Equipping these forces with the capabilities that are commensurate to the challenging tasks they will have to face is a crucial necessity.  Our army must be provided with the full range of enablers, including heavy weaponry, air and ground mobility and so on, which will help the institution become a confident, effective and self-reliant force that is capable of defending the country’s sovereignty.  Our police and intelligence services must be trained and equipped not just to counter the paramilitary threats they get to fight in many insecure corners of the country, but also to handle the tasks of civilian policing in general.  We must do all that keeping mind not just the exigencies of the current situation but also the long-term needs of a normal, stable and well functioning state.

However, we cannot succeed in the Transition process, or indeed in the fight against terrorism in general, unless we bring some urgently needed changes to our approach in the ongoing military effort.  We are facing a dangerous situation in Afghanistan and the wider region of heightened sensitivities, pent up frustration and increased radicalization which could seriously jeopardize our common efforts.

In this context, I wish to strongly reiterate the Afghan government’s continued demand for better coordination of all NATO-ISAF operations with the ANSF, as well as for an end to all operations that result in civilian casualties and damage to the lives and property of innocent Afghans. I urge General Petraeus and other NATO military leaders to continue and expand their constructive efforts in this regard.  I also wish to recognize Ambassador Mark Sedwill, the outgoing NATO Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan, for the tireless work he has put during his term in Kabul towards improving civilian-military coordination.  I look forward to working with his successor, Ambassador Sir Simon Lawrence Gass.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Recognising that Transition is not a purely military process, we in Afghanistan appreciate the growing consensus, both within Afghanistan and outside, about the need a political solution to ensure lasting peace.  I thank many of the NATO-ISAF nations that have provided strong and visionary support to an Afghan-led peace and reconciliation programme.  Since the establishment of the High Peace Council (HPC) last year, much tangible progress has taken place and a lot has been achieved both in the area of reconciliation, as well as in integration which includes programme delivery at the community level.  To date, a comprehensive outreach campaign has been launched to engage people in communities, and coordination among state institutions that are involved in the process has significantly improved.  The HPC has also engaged in a successful regional dialogue with some of the key countries in our neighbourhood whose support would be crucial for the peace process.  For this Afghan-ld peace process to succeed, a sincere, principled and sustained cooperation from the international community, including our NATO allies, will be essential.

Furthermore, we must ensure that the governance and economic development elements of our Transition strategy fall equally well into place.  The Afghan Government remains determined to fulfill its commitments under the Kabul Process, including the commitment to improve sub-national governance and improve the delivery of basic services to the populations in all areas of the country.  We are taking our commitment to ensuring transparency and the fight against corruption seriously and have taken a number of steps, since the Kabul Conference, to address these concerns.  The Afghan judiciary and the legal system are taking bolder than ever steps in apprehending corrupt elements.

To help this effort, we will need the understanding and support of our international partners.  We need your support to continue the capacity building of our institutions to be able to deliver basic services to the population.  To help enhance the capacity of government institutions, and increase public confidence, we need your cooperation towards removing the parallel structures that currently pose a challenge to the credibility of these institutions.  The continued presence of structures that may have once served a useful purpose, such as the PRTs, poses a challenge to the growth of genuine Afghan institutions at the district and provincial levels.  We propose a gradual process whereby these structures could be phased out and replaced by fully functioning Afghan institutions.  We also need your cooperation in bringing greater transparency to the contracting processes that are perceived to be a source of corrupt practice in the country.

In the area of economic cooperation, we would like the focus of our international partners over the next few years to shift towards supporting major infrastructure projects and creating real employment for the Afghan people.

You will agree that few things will inspire greater confidence in the success of our strategy than for the people to see solid, sustainable signs of investment and economic growth in their towns and villages.  While, under the Kabul Process, we pursue a comprehensive economic development strategy, we will give particular attention to investment and support in the agriculture, energy, mining and education sectors.  I urge our international partners to ensure that these priorities are taken into consideration as they plan the future economic and development assistance to Afghanistan.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Regional cooperation remains as crucial to the vision of stability and progress in Afghanistan as it always did.  Needless to argue, without sincere cooperation in fighting our common threats, and until a vision of economic integration replaces geopolitical rivalries across the region, it will be hard to achieve peace, stability and economic prosperity.  In this context, we are committed to continuing the constructive dialogue we have maintained with Pakistan in the recent years.  We also expect to engage our other neighours and countries of the region more closely in the interest of peace, security and economic cooperation.

Recognising the importance of regional economic cooperation, we are focusing on cooperation in a number of sectors that have significant economic benefit for the region as a whole, such as energy, roads and railway networks that connect Afghanistan with the region. The recent conclusion of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Trade and Transit Agreement (APTTA), and the progress achieved towards the realization of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan–India gas pipeline (TAPI) project are milestones for increased regional cooperation.

Additionally, we have concluded feasibility study for the CASA1000 project for transfer of electricity from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to Afghanistan and Pakistan.  These and other initiatives will contribute greatly to peace, security and stability of the region.

Regional cooperation will also be vital to Afghanistan’s success in the crucial fight against narcotics.

Ladies and Gentlemen, friends,

The declaration of Afghanistan-NATO Enduring Partnership signed in Lisbon last November solidifies our time-tested friendship and cooperation into a more structured partnership that will stretch beyond the end of the current mission.  We hope this partnership will further contribute to the development of our security and help guarantee the success the success of the Transition process.  From a longer-term perspective, as a young democracy and a developing nation, we look forward to benefiting from the full range of partnership services that the Alliance has to offer.  We are deeply committed to fulfilling our obligations under the Partnership and we look forward to engaging with you on further elaborating its content.

With the Transition process now in full momentum, my country Afghanistan is entering a critical stage in its recovery, stabilization and development.  In the success of the Transition process lie the fruits of our historical partnership over the past decade.  In the success of this process also lie the chances of Afghanistan’s success as a stable and democratic country – that is, the realization of the true and long-held aspirations of the Afghan people.

I am sure you agree that a sovereign Afghanistan that is secure within its borders and at peace with the outside world, an Afghanistan where terrorism will never again be able to find a safe haven, and where the prospects of regional economic integration will ever increasingly grow, will be an achievement well worth your efforts and contributions.

Thank you,

Foreign Minister Rassoul Addresses UN Security Council on Afghanistan

H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Afghanistan, today addressed an open-debate of the UN Security Council on the “Situation in Afghanistan.”

News

The meeting, which convened to consider the recent report of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, was also attended by the Special Representative of the UNSG, Staffan di Mistura.

In his statement, H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul first discussed Afghanistan’s recent parliamentary elections, noted that despite intimidations and threats of attacks, including assassinations by extremists, millions of Afghanistan from all segments of society took part in the elections, reaffirming their “steadfast commitment to democracy and self-determination.” He highlighted the broad participation among the youth and girls. “The unprecedented number of young candidates and voters illustrates the degree to which democracy is taking root in Afghan society.  Further, the significant increase in women’s participation is testament to the further empowerment of women in Afghan political life.”

He said for the coming years Afghanistan would pursue a comprehensive strategy to implement the outcome of the London and Kabul Conferences. He further asserted that Afghanistan would work towards gradual leadership in all areas, including security, development and governance.  On security he said Afghanistan would strive to build the size, capacity and operational capability of its security forces “for taking the lead role in combat operations in volatile provinces by 2011, and meeting the security’s security obligations independently by 2014, with international forces offering back-up support.”  He also reiterated Afghanistan appeal for continued international support and assistance in the building of Afghan security forces.

Further, he highlighted the up-coming NATO Summit in Lisbon, at which the Afghan government would come together with partner-countries to “crystallize our joint strategy for transition to Afghan security lead over the coming years.” At the conference Afghanistan would also update its international partners on progress in strengthening Afghan security forces.

He added for transition to succeed, Afghanistan and the international community had to find a solution to the ongoing security problem.  He underscored a comprehensive strategy for improving security, including a “comprehensive and robust out-reach initiative.” He said Afghanistan would pursue the implantation of its reintegration and reconciliation initiative,
to ensure an honorable place in society for members of the armed opposition who are willing to renounce violence, accept our constitution, return to normal life and embrace international human rights.”   He said Afghanistan had established a “High-Peace-Council, to oversee the implementation of our reintegration and reconciliation strategy.”

Foreign Minister Rassoul noted that terrorism posed a serious threat to the security and stability of the region and beyond, and expressed Afghanistan concern about the “continued presence of safe-havens and sanctuaries in our region where terrorists receive recruitment, training and logistical support.”

alluded to the situation in Afghanistan, and said the increased awareness of the need to re-engage the Afghan people in the reconstruction and stabilization of their country has helped enable the government of Afghanistan and its international partners to “focus on finding ways to meet the needs and expectations of the Afghan people.”

He however asserted that civilians continued to “pay a staggering price in the ongoing conflict” in the country. He said over six thousand Afghans, including women; children and the elderly were killed and injured in just last year. In that regard, he said the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and their terrorist allies continue to show complete disregard for human life, embracing assassinations and executions in an effort to control the population through terror.

He said the cost of the conflict was not limited to just Afghanistan, but also international partners countries. He highlighted increased terrorist attacks on UN staff and members of humanitarian organizations who work in various fields, including health and education.  In that regard, Ambassador Tanin expressed gratitude to UN staff and other partners “who continue to work under difficult circumstances for the sake of the Afghan people, and in pursuit of international peace and security.”

Moreover, he welcomed the increased measures by former ISAF former commander, General McCrystal, aimed at better protecting the lives of civilians.  He expressed confidence that civilian protection would continue to receive due consideration from ISAF’s new commander, General Patraeus.

He nevertheless noted that civilian casualties remained a concern to Afghanistan, and undermined the people’s confidence in the good-will of the international community.  He emphasized increased efforts at the national level “for building an efficient, effective and responsible army and police force dedicated to the protection of Afghans and maintenance of security and the rule of law.”

Ambassador Tanin also said the safety of the Afghan people should remain a priority, and it was necessary to enhance collaboration for strengthening the trust and confidence of Afghans in future efforts.

Statement

Remarks by H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul,

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

At the Security Council Open-Debate on the Situation in Afghanistan,

29 September 2010

Mr. President,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset, let me thank you, Mr. President, for convening today’s meeting on the situation in Afghanistan, and congratulate the government of Turkey in assuming the Council Presidency for the month of September. I also thank Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon for his most recent report on Afghanistan, and SRSG Staffan di Mistura for his comprehensive briefing.

Mr. President,

Today’s meeting comes at a crucial time in Afghanistan just over three months after the Kabul Conference, and less than two weeks since the holding of our parliamentary elections. I am pleased to be among you today, to discuss the current situation in Afghanistan, and shed light on the strategy we will pursue to end violence, and achieve lasting peace and security.

Mr. President,

I want to begin by saying a few words about our recent elections, which gave Afghans another chance to shape their future, and consolidate our young democracy. Millions of Afghans from all segments of society braved intimidations and threats of attacks, including assassinations, to cast their vote.  As such, Afghans reaffirmed their steadfast commitment to democracy and self-determination. The unprecedented number of young candidates and voters illustrates the degree to which democracy is taking root in Afghan society. Further, the significant increase in women’s participation is testament to the further empowerment of women in Afghan political life.

Our elections were a major victory for democracy in Afghanistan. Let me take the opportunity to convey our gratitude to the United Nations and other partners for providing financial and technical support for our elections.

Mr. President,

Just three months ago, Afghanistan and our international partners gathered at the international Kabul Conference to renew our partnership for durable peace, security and stability.  Together, we adopted the “Kabul Process,” which focuses on increased Afghan leadership across the board. We also presented our 23 national priority programs, including the national security policy and our national reconciliation initiative, all of which were endorsed by the international community.

Mr. President,
Going forward, Afghanistan will pursue a comprehensive strategy to implement the outcome of the London and Kabul Conferences. We will work towards gradual leadership in all state of affairs, security, development and governance in particular. Our objective is clear: a gradual transfer of responsibilities towards self-reliance in ensuring social and economic opportunities for all Afghans, and enforcing the rule of law throughout the country. In the area of security, we will work to build the size, capacity and operational capability of Afghanistan’s national security forces.  In doing so, we will meet a vital pre-condition for taking the lead in combat operations in volatile provinces by 2011, and for meeting our security obligations independently by 2014, with international forces offering back-up support. In achieving this goal, I want to reiterate the importance of sustained international support for the training, resourcing and equipping of the Afghan national army and police.

Moreover, we have committed to a comprehensive social and economic agenda to improve the lives of all Afghans, and achieve a sustainable Afghan economy. In particular, we are giving special focus to agricultural development, rural rehabilitation, human resource development and economic and infrastructure development to generate employment opportunities and meet the immediate needs of our people. I seize this opportunity to convey Afghanistan’s thanks and appreciation for the international community’s support and assistance. Meanwhile, it is noteworthy that Afghanistan will not be able to realize its development goals without greater responsibility for our finances. Afghans must have a greater role in their own development. We welcome the international community’s decision to channel 50% of donor assistance through our national budget by January 2012.  This will lead to greater transparency and efficiency in utilization of development assistance by donor countries.

Mr. President,

At the same time, we have embarked on a reinvigorated effort to combat corruption, and strengthen governance at all levels. Afghans are well aware of the detrimental effect of this menace on the dignity, image and prosperity of our country. We are fully committed to ridding corruption from our society effectively and resolutely.
Mr. President,

In less than two months from now, Afghanistan and its NATO partners will gather at the NATO Summit in Lisbon to crystallize our joint strategy for transition to Afghan security lead over the coming years.  We will update our international partners on our progress in the building of our security forces, and discuss remaining challenges to that effect.

Mr. President,

For transition to succeed, we first have to find a solution to Afghanistan’s ongoing security problem. Afghanistan has endured violence for more than thirty years.  Almost ten years since the start of our joint efforts to stabilize Afghanistan, security remains a problem. We have prioritized ending violence and providing Afghans with what has eluded them for decades: the chance to live in peace and security. There will be no peace unless military efforts are complemented by a robust and comprehensive out-reach initiative. That is why President Karzai launched a “reintegration and reconciliation initiative to ensure an honorable place in society for members of the armed opposition who are willing to surrender arms, renounce violence, accept our constitution, return to normal life and embrace international human rights. We recently established the “High-Peace-Council,” to oversee the implementation of our reintegration and reconciliation. The High Council is now operational and will meet regularly. In addition, we welcome the Security Council’s review and updating of the 1267 consolidated list as important for implementing our peace initiative.  In this regard, we look forward to additional updates, on the basis of additional delisting requests.

Mr. President,

Terrorism poses a grave threat to the security and stability of our region and beyond. In this regard, we remain concerned at the continued presence of safe-haven and sanctuaries in our region where terrorists receive recruitment, training and logistical support.

Mr. President,

It is ever more evident that addressing the challenges facing Afghanistan and our region, including terrorism, extremism, and narcotic drug production and trafficking will not be possible without meaningful cooperation at the regional level. For our part, Afghanistan remains fully committed to a sincere and effective dialogue with Pakistan and other regional countries for security and prosperity in our region.

Just recently, together with the government of Pakistan, we signed the Afghanistan-Pakistan-Trade and Transit Agreement (APPTA), aimed at increasing bilateral trade and generating employment opportunities. Moreover, the signing of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipe-line project and the conclusion of the feasibility study for the CASA 1000 project for transfer of energy in the region are milestones for the development and prosperity of our region. We are both confident that these projects will benefit security and stability in Afghanistan and the region and strengthen mutual trust and confidence.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan is confident that by pursuing our comprehensive national agenda for security, development and governance, and by implementing our reintegration and reconciliation initiative, we will succeed in stabilizing Afghanistan and preventing the enemies of a stable and prosperous Afghanistan from regaining control of our country.

Mr. President,
Nine and a half years since the beginning of our partnership with the international community to defeat terrorism and achieve a stable and prosperous Afghanistan, we have come a long way. We attribute our achievements to the sacrifices of the Afghan people and the troops of our partner countries. A transition to increased Afghan responsibility and ownership will be our main priority over the coming years.  We expect our international partners to remain by us with fortitude and commitment to ensure the successful conclusion of that transition.

Thank You Mr. President.