Friday, October 31, 2014

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon calls President Karzai

November 22, 2011

In a telephone conversation Monday evening, the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon congratulated President Karzai on a successful completion of the Traditional Loya Jirga in Kabul.

The UN Chief also notified and consulted the President on his next choice to replace Ambassador Staffan de Mistura, as the new UN special representative to Afghanistan. Ambassador de Mistura’s mission is coming to an end soon.

Both sides agreed to hold a meeting in the sideline of the upcoming conference in Bonn on Afghanistan.

President Karzai thanked Secretary General for sharing with him his choice for the next UN special representative appointment to Afghanistan and assured the Secretary General of Afghan government’s continued support to the UN.

For further information, please contact:

Office of the Spokesperson to the President of Afghanistan,

Tel.:   +93 (20) 210 2853

+93 (20) 210 3705

president.pressofficee@gmail.com

www.president.gov.af

Statement of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, Staffan de Mistura, to the Security Council,

Mr. President, dear Foreign Minister Rassoul, and dear colleagues,Thank you first of all Mr. Minister Rassoul for being with us today. It is sending a strong signal to remind us, as you did, that this is the moment when a country like Afghanistan is going through a terrible loss. Your presence here reminds us of the departure of Professor Rabbani and we need to hear from you how Afghanistan once again will be confronting this difficult moment.

Special Representative for Afghanistan Briefs Security Council Staffan de Mistura, Special Representative for Afghanistan and Head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, presents the Secretary-General’s latest report on that country to the Security Council.

We meet in fact today at a sad moment for the people of Afghanistan. The recent killing of former President and Head of the High Peace Council, Professor Rabbani, who was a friend of many of us, highly respected by all of us, was a shock for all of us. But as Afghanistan and the Afghans have shown so many times over thousands of years, the capacity, again and again, to recover from tragic and sad losses, we know and we feel that their resolve and search for peace will not be deterred. And that was said by President Karzai himself recently.

While still it is unclear who was behind this attack, we must, as Professor Rabbani’s son said at the funeral in Kabul, continue to work for peace, the same peace that Professor Rabbani had started and to which he had committed himself, sacrificed his life, in his role

as High Peace Council, Chairman.

History shows that reconciliation efforts are particularly vulnerable to attack when they start to get traction, and precisely for that reason. During the past years there has been an increased interest from many relevant parties in the idea of a peace process. Under Professor Rabbani’s leadership, the High Peace Council has in fact started to generate a form of dialogue that was definitely needed in order to address the trust deficit before talks can become more concrete.

Mr. President, the road to peace is never smooth, we know it. And the death of Professor Rabbani is not the end of the peace process; that was said by many Afghans in particular by the highest authorities in Afghanistan. It is a moment for the Afghans to recalibrate, yes; a moment that calls for national unity among the leaders and people of Afghanistan  as they are again resisting another tragic loss. I myself was recently invited to a showing of an Afghan film. That film was celebrating the achievement of four Afghans, four young Afghans, who, with no previous experience, and with the support of outsiders, were able to overcome the highest physical obstacle in Afghanistan and become the first team of Afghans to stand on the top of Mount Noshaq – which is the highest mountain in Afghanistan. Well, that is a reminder to all of us, that the Afghan Government and Afghan people, with the support from others, like all of us here, will eventually be able to work together to find a peaceful solution to their problems. There is no alternative to a political solution. And there has been a window of opportunity for talks to begin, albeit very narrow and clearly fragile and we need to pursue it.

Peace is a process not an event, a process in which in order to be sustainable and deliver lasting results must be broad-based including Afghans of all kinds, including civil society. The priority must continue to be a dialogue among Afghans themselves led by them, with non Afghans like all of us playing a supportive role, if and when required.

At the national level and as proof of their continued commitment to search for peace, we would be supporting and hoping that, and we know it is going to happen, that the Afghan Government, will be proceeding with a swift appointment of an authoritative voice, not to  replace, because Professor Rabbani is not replaceable, but to persist with the efforts he led within the High Peace Council.

Peace efforts are also very much about redressing local grievances. And here I would like pay respect, single out Minister Stanekzai, a friend, to whom we should be, and we are, wishing a swift recovery from his wounds. Efforts done by him to advance the APRP as a critical process at the local level have been crucial and need to continue as a dispute resolution mechanism, in addition to other similar mechanisms. That is why we want to praise and commend the timely convening of a recent conference on APRP in Kandahar.

Why, because in fact this is an opportunity to promote reintegration further, particularly in the south where, in all frankness, there has been less progress compared to the northern part of the country. And furthermore, regarding APRP, we should remain vigilant in ensuring a proper and rigorous vetting mechanism. Our recollection of the tragic events in Mazar-i-Sharif, and now with Professor Rabbani, are reminding us how important vetting can be and should be.

On a positive note, regarding the Afghan National Police and Afghan National Army we have noticed the positive progress in development both Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police and they have shown they are capable of enabling themselves of taking on more security responsibility and to become more self-sustaining and that is why in spite of all these incidents transition goes forward. Recent security incidents, while regrettable for the loss of life, have also shown the increased ability of the ANSF –which is the national security system, – to manage such incidents in a controlled and proportionate manner. I will give another personal example if I may: in August, among the many attacks which have taken place, there was an attack in Abdul Haq Square.

Well on that occasion, which lasted several hours, a Lt. Colonel called Safiullah, who was the Chief Policeman in the area, embraced the suicide attacker, who was moving towards the people in the square and exploded with him and died; by doing so, saving many lives including his own team. These are the type of example that make us foreigners in Kabul feel it is not rhetoric when we say that the Afghan National Police is growing in the respect of the people and in respect of its own functions. Human rights: The human cost in the lives of average Afghans is still too high, as President Karzai is constantly reminding us. While some security incidents -and certainly military incidents- may be fewer in numbers -and there is no question of that as compared

to the past- the overall level of civilian casualties unfortunately is still high, too high. And

one civilian casualty is one too many. We are increasingly concerned with these rising casualties and the use of certain tactics –particularly by the Taliban, frankly- that produce civilian casualties. There is therefore the need for a surge in protection of civilians. The Afghan state, which has done a lot, is to continue to distinguish itself by putting respect for universal human rights at the centre of their own policies and practices, including in the treatment of prisoners and detainees, where we are seeing encouraging movements in the right direction. And when they take place we should acknowledge that, like the most encouraging improved regulation on women’s shelters that can potentially go a long way in protecting Afghan women and girls who often have been suffering the risk of violence and abuse.

Today we are having an important meeting at a very sad and important moment in Afghan history. This is one of the meetings which are preparing for two crucial meetings taking place this year: one is Istanbul and the other one is Bonn. We hope they will be an opportunity for collective determination to support and reassure the Afghan Government and people that we will be with them in the long run. It is our responsibility to ensure that the upcoming conferences, particularly these two, are not ceremonial –and we know they are not going to be ceremonial – but complementary, substantive and forwardlooking.

Istanbul, 2nd November, an important rendezvous. That will be, we hope, the opportunity for the region to gather in Istanbul with the intent, and beyond, of setting in motion a means to establish what is being defined as a benign regional order, where Afghanistan and its own neighbours will exchange mutual assurances towards creating a stable and prosperous Heart of Asia. Afghanistan, according to their own feelings –and we share itshould not be the subject but the catalyst for this conference, where the region can discuss concrete –not theoretical- ways on how to develop confidence-building measures to address common challenges. There has been a lot of constructive work done already, particularly on the economic side, but I think Istanbul aspires to address, according to the Afghan desires – who are in charge of this- we want to thank the Turkish authorities for their hospitality and vision in offering this opportunity, to also address political and security issues, not economic ones only. At the upcoming –in two days time- preparatory meeting in Oslo we believe will help and ensure that there is a clear identity among

regional players -and beyond- about a possibility of a brainstorming on these ideas so that we do come up with a strong declaration -or something along those lines- which could come up in Istanbul and, possibly, some type of follow-up structural approach, in order to ensure that whatever will be discussed in Istanbul will not just be a statement.

UNAMA encourages and supports those efforts and is part of those but of course recognising the strong leadership of the two co-chairs, particularly Afghanistan and Turkey, and we are supporting very important initiatives such as the New Silk Road, which are in the interests of Afghanistan, its neighbours and the broader region and where we should be investing our attention. Only trust among Afghanistan and her neighbours and trust among individuals will create an atmosphere in which private investment, as we hope, will become more active and can thrive.

Bonn, on 5th December. We are looking forward to Bonn. It has the potential of having a historical impact although, as always, we should always be cautious in our expectations; but our hopes are very high. It is a crucial opportunity to assess Transition, which is moving and by that time we will have also other meetings in other fora indicating the wish by the Afghan authorities and ISAF on how to substantially, we hope, increase the transition momentum, promote support beyond 2014, because they need to feel they will not be abandoned once again, and facilitate whatever would be progress, hopefully, in the direction of reconciliation.

There were clouds last time I had the privilege to meet you here. These two clouds, one was the electoral follow-up and the parliamentary crisis and the other one was related to the Kabul bank. I do not want to be perceived as overly optimistic but I think that both clouds are dissipating. On the first one, thanks to a very courageous and wise decision by President Karzai, the Independent Electoral Commission was recognised as the final authority on electoral issues, like in any part of the world where democracy is moving in the right direction. And therefore we have now come to the conclusion of a difficult –but probably useful- journey related to the electoral process and I believe that we will be going in a much smoother direction to the next elections, because recognising that the Independent Electoral Commission is the final authority is a very good starting point for future elections and for the democratic process of separation of powers in Afghanistan.

So, good movement in the right direction, nothing is perfect anywhere, not only in Afghanistan; but in the right direction. The cloud, we are feeling, is moving away. On the Kabul bank we see light, light behind the cloud. There is a possibility of seeing an agreement in principle on an IMF programme and we believe that can be reached through the ongoing negotiations. An IMF technical mission actually is going to arrive in Kabul on 30th, tomorrow, and will stay there for 10 days to finalise discussions. An IMF Board meeting is scheduled for mid-November. That means also that another important element of what we call the ARTF, which basically is a special window of financial support to short term funding for key national priority programmes, is looking much more positive.

Additional funds are required but already many countries have been already indicating their continuation of it, while waiting for the cloud to totally disappear. And in that context I think that, with the Minister of Finance, we are likely to be able to co-chair and aim at co-chairing and convening a JCMB, which refers to a common board between the Government of Afghanistan and the international community on economic joint activities- which has been in suspension during this period, and do it in November, which means before Bonn. On the Review, which, as you know, we take very seriously and we know the Afghan authorities take rightly very seriously, we will continue to work in order to ensure that the Terms of Reference are satisfactory to everyone – and in particular to the Afghan authorities, to work in close cooperation with them and of course in close respect of the Security Council mandate.

On the humanitarian side, although we recognize that there are so many other areas in the world where humanitarian priorities need to draw your attention, we believe that the drought is an issue of concern and that the humanitarian community is going to be

required to keep a close eye, together with the Afghan authorities, to avoid that, in addition to insecurity, the price of drought may produce food shortages in the future. That is why we are looking forward to see the outcome of the 2011 CAP Emergency Revision, which is focussing also on the issue of drought. On the counter-narcotics, I will never stop reminding all of us and each one of us, that what is being done is not enough and that the issue remains serious both for the Afghans and frankly for neighbouring countries and their own people.

Finally, Mr. President, dear Minister Rassoul and dear friends, The next three months are likely to be very challenging. From a security point of view I am afraid the writing on the wall is clear: we will have to endure, resist and go forward, even if this pattern of security challenges is likely to be in place. We are also going to have other types of opportunities, such as transition – second tranche – Istanbul and Bonn. When in December I will have the honour to come back here to do my last briefing in my current capacity, I hope I will be able to bring you good news. The Afghans deserve nothing else.

Thank you Mr. President.

Statement of Staffan de Mistura, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General in Afghanistan, to the Security Council


Mr. President, Mr. Secretary-General, Members of the Security Council:

The last time I briefed the Security Council, as the Council is aware, I insisted, against the rules, on allowing Ambassador Tanin to speak first, as a sign of attention and respect to the growing need for the Afghan people to be recognized as a sovereign country. But this time, Ambassador Tanin has insisted, with me, to go back to the rules, to show that Afghanistan intends to stick to international rules. Therefore, with his permission, I will apply the old approach and take the floor as he kindly requested me to do.

We meet today at the moment when we are at a special crossroads. July is a significant month in 2011, as decisions have been taken that relate to the beginning of transition. Transition has been announced, but it is also going to be based on the decisions taken at upcoming meetings of the international community with the Afghan authorities, starting approximately in mid-July. This is also the month when we are starting to see the gradual implementation of the decision announced in the speech by President Obama with regard to a gradual redeployment of international forces, in particular those of the United States. In other words, we are at a crossroads between national sovereignty and what comes with it, namely, responsibility and accountability, and between continuing conflict and a politically inclusive dialogue.

First of all, on the transition, it is like a train that is moving forward. According to every indicator I have — and as we heard at the meeting we had on the transition conference in Kabul — it is also on track. The transition will also of course address seven areas, provinces and cities. As usual, we will see that the devil in the details. But the transition is on track.

An issue on which we are working — and on which we should be working more, as was recognized in the meeting to which I referred — has to do with the fact that transition cannot be, and should not be, only about security. It has to be about something more. It needs to be a transition to something that the Afghan people recognize and identify with. That is why we are working together in order to ensure that the results in the social, economic and human rights aspects are linked to the transition. In that sense, while the transition is irreversible like a Swiss train, we need at the same time to make sure that it becomes solidly irreversible with regard to the socio-economic aspect.

In that context, one element that has been discussed in the past few days, and which may come up again, is the idea of seeing whether we could have some of the projects that may emerge that are related to transition linked to some type of transition dividend. In other words, there will undoubtedly be some savings on the military side. Some of it may be utilized to ensure that local Afghan authorities and the people in the areas that are being transitioned feel that there is continuing interest and substantive support for their development. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) will do its part in that regard, based on its very clear mandate, in particular to facilitate that aspect of the transition.

That leads me to my second point, which is normally the first one in Afghanistan, that is, security. As the Council knows — and there have been many reminders of this — the security situation has been an issue of concern recently. But we have to look at it in context. God knows I do so with care and caution, having just experienced tragedy on 1 April. There have been attacks on the Intercontinental Hotel. Many of us have been there and we know its iconic value. It was shocking. There have been attacks inside the city and in military hospitals, and even in the Ministry of Defence. There were attacks in Kandahar for two days, as well as attacks in Herat on the Italian provincial reconstruction team.

But let us put it into context. All the attacks were taken care of in an effective way by the Afghan military and police — albeit perhaps sometimes in a rather confusing way, as we are all in the process of training. Even at the Intercontinental Hotel, in a way, the end of the attack was supported by International Security Assistance Force helicopters. Again, however, the Afghan forces were up front.

I think that is an important point, because there is a perception of improvement in terms of the security situation, which is true. There has been a surge and there has been an improvement in the perception of the momentum being reversed. It is also true, however, that there is a constant attempt by anti-government
forces — during the spring offensive, as they call it, and in the summer — to try to reverse that perception by giving signals of dramatic surgical attacks. But I must say that, so far, the first impression still prevails. The Afghans have been able to handle it. That does not mean that in the next few weeks or perhaps months, as the summer is not over, there may not be moments of great difficulty in the security situation.

That is why it is so important, first, to address the issue of civilian casualties, which is affecting the Afghan people, and, secondly, to actually go into the other phase, namely, a political search — as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and, recently, President Obama have indicated, and as has President Karzai several times. Everybody recognizes that no military solution is conceivable in Afghanistan. We now need to move more effectively into a political search.

That means reconciliation. Where are we on that? Well, as is clear for all to see, there have been a lot of contacts. Unfortunately, there have also been leaks to the media, which have not helped those contacts. But there is clearly a need for dialogue, and we are getting indications that this will be resumed in a more concrete way very soon.

Meanwhile, the United Nations is doing its part, in close coordination with Afghan authorities and international stakeholders. We are focusing specifically only on what we are mandated to do, and where we perhaps have added value, that is, on confidence-building measures. These are important, because they are the measures that prepare for substantive discussion, which can only be carried out by the Afghans with the Afghans. They will actually have to do what we have always said, namely, ensure that this is Afghan-led.

But confidence-building measures do matter, especially at this stage. They include issues such as looking at civilian casualties and giving the Taliban a chance, if they want to be involved, to actually qualify by doing so with facts and not with words and by reducing the tremendous negative impact that they are having on the civilian population, especially in the most recent period.

Secondly, and I know this is personal judgment, but it is one based on the perception held by many in Kabul, the decision that the Council courageously took to split the list of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1267 (1999) between Al-Qaida and the Taliban is certainly an indicator in the right direction, if we want to continue to push for reconciliation. To give one example, some of the members of the High Peace Council, which is the ultimate authority and to which we will refer when there is a substantive discussion, happen to still be on the list. That is very difficult to manage when we, as the United Nations and UNAMA, assist them logistically and substantively and try to travel with them and bring them around in order to make sure that we have meetings.

One area for confidence-building measures is certainly the possibility of establishing a venue — let us not call it an office — where meetings could eventually take place between the Taliban and stakeholders, in particular Afghan partners, without a feeling of insecurity and with an atmosphere of sufficient discretion. That is not yet there, but it is one of the areas.

Let me mention an additional area, which has come up in the past few weeks. It has to do with education. If there is one area that the international community and the Afghan authorities should be proud of, in terms of improvement after the departure of the Taliban, it is education. Seven million children are currently enrolled and going to school, many of them girls. We continuously witnessed the tragic decisions taken during the Taliban’s rule regarding schools in general and girls in particular. There are some indicators that they appear for the first time to be sending messages — even publicly through the Internet — that they might have learned from that mistake. We hope that this is not just a tactical decision and that they are in fact indicating their interest in not attacking schools.

There have been some contraindications. Some teachers have been affected recently, but on the whole our own research indicates that some 400 schools, newly established in certain areas that could clearly be influenced by a Taliban presence, have seen a substantial reduction of attacks. Minister Wardak has drawn my attention to this. We, together with UNICEF, will continue studying the situation; if this is a trend, we will recognize it as a confidence-building measure. But it needs to be verified.

There is one area that I think we need to refer to when we talk about reconciliation. That is reintegration. The institutional architecture is there, and all members of the Council have contributed substantially — some very substantially — to actually making sure that this is a real and well-prepared eventuality. So far, there has been some traction and momentum. More than 1,800 people are currently in the programme. But challenges exist.

First of all, it is clear that until real reconciliation takes place, it will be very difficult to see major momentum. But having it ready in order to attract and respond to possible changes is very important, and the proof is that figure of 1,800. We have some concerns and are working on how to ensure that there is sufficient vetting. I must share with the Council the fact that one of the preliminary indicators of the attack in Mazar-e-Sharif was that three out of the five people who violently and brutally killed my colleagues were actually reintegrated ex-Taliban. That shows, first of all, that we need to be very careful about vetting and that none of this is waterproof until there is a final reconciliation.

My next point is that, regardless of whether or not reconciliation takes place, without a regional context it will never be totally sustainable. That is why, over the past few months, we have been looking with great satisfaction and interest at the substantial increase in bilateral, trilateral and multilateral meetings, from the Shanghai process to the several meetings that have taken place between the Afghan, Pakistani and United States authorities. The same applies to the meetings taking place in Istanbul, in which Iran was included in addition to Pakistan and Afghanistan. We therefore hope and believe that the Istanbul meeting to take place on 2 November will be quite an opportunity for this to be addressed.

As members of the Council know, there is an international contact group. It is informal, but is growing in its impact and influence. We had a very good and constructive meeting in Kabul, where, apart from other major issues related to transition, Deputy Foreign Minister Ludin came up with an initiative that we are planning to support. The initiative will seek to determine whether we may come to some understanding in Istanbul on stability, along the lines of what was done in the Balkans some time ago or during the Helsinki process. In other words, it will seek something in writing that reassures all sides about mutually reinforced stability.

That would make more sense, of course, if there were also a mechanism to support it and a financial trust fund for regional incentives. All that may be on the table by the time of the Istanbul meeting, but we are certainly working seriously with the Afghan and Turkish authorities and all participants, regional and beyond, to get something moving in that regard.

There is no question that, at the moment, there are some clouds related to regional understandings, such as that currently prevailing on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. This should not be overly dramatized and should, frankly, be left to the Afghans and Pakistanis to discuss. They have recently held very constructive and useful meetings, both in Islamabad and in Afghanistan, and they will be neighbours forever. We will be there for a while, but they will always be there. So while we are looking at these events with concern, we are also hopeful that this type of bilateral discussion will be a move in the right direction.

There is another issue that is important in the context of the regional environment, and that is the concern of some regional neighbours over the ongoing ambiguity about the nature of the strategic pact or understanding that may be discussed between the Afghan authorities and, in particular, the United States. Some countries have been very concerned about the possibility of permanent, large foreign bases in Afghanistan. We have been trying to reassure everyone that this does not actually seem to be the case and that it is actually up to the Afghan authorities to reassure the neighbours about the real nature of whatever strategic agreement may be reached. Having travelled in the region, I recognize that it is still an issue that we believe would be better resolved with clarity before Istanbul. We hope it will. There have been statements issued by the United States authorities — even from the highest levels in the Pentagon — trying very rightly to offer reassurance in that regard, but some additional homework would probably help to dissipate that cloud.

That leads me to another issue — counternarcotics. At a time of possible gradual changes of focus on the part of the international community in Afghanistan, there is a concern that the so-called economic environment will be changing. That is proven by facts. The military drawdown will also reduce the impact of everything that is financially linked to a substantial military presence. The particular fear of my colleagues in the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, to which I draw the Council’s attention, is that the narco-economy may then become more appealing to some Afghans. There is therefore an important need for us not to forget that aspect, which as Council members know is substantively affecting not only Afghanistan but also, again, its neighbours.

That leads me to the issue of human rights. If there is one area where I believe the United Nations will be remembered in Afghanistan, it is probably the way it has held the fort and raised high the flag about the need to respect human rights. That is why the civilian casualties report is so important and has been a major irritant, frankly, particularly to the Taliban, who have told us many times that it is hurting them. We have been telling them that there is a way to avoid
that — by not hurting civilians.

This has also had an impact on the interventions of the International Security Assistance Force and NATO, particularly air raids. I know that the errors that have been made are increasingly drawing the attention of the United States and NATO authorities, whereas the horrors that the Taliban have been perpetrating in many places — such as the recent attacks on the bank and a hospital — have also drawn attention, and they are annoyed by that. We hope that this will help everyone, and the Taliban in particular, to understand that there is a moment when the popular support that they believe they enjoy is being affected by the level of civilian casualties they have been causing.

The issue of women is still very important. We have 69 women in Parliament. We count on them to be able to defend what has been achieved by women in Afghanistan, but we remain worried about the reports we are getting about the many cases of concern, such as the judiciary sometimes punishing women when they move out of their homes or decide not to marry.

The same thing obviously applies to the issue of children. There have been cases of children used as suicide bombers. There have been cases of children being attacked in a way that has drawn the attention of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.

On the humanitarian side, there is one area to which I need to draw the Council’s attention. At the moment, the welfare programme is having a difficulty with resources. It is one of our own stars, trying to show the Afghan people that we will not abandon them at any time, as well as actually providing food to more than 6 million children. At the moment, it has had to substantially reduce the number of beneficiaries due to a lack of resources. I draw attention to that because it is an important issue for all.

Aid coherence is crucial, and it is also important to recognize that there is a body for aid coherence. It is called the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board (JCMB). The JCMB is the best body; there is no need to invent a new one. The United Nations specializes in creating new bodies, so I would be reluctant to suggest one. Rather, the JCMB should be reinforced. The JCMB has the possibility and potential to deal with aid coherence. But there is a cloud — it is the Kabul Bank. I do not need to remind the Council of that, but it is an important issue that is, in a way, an obstacle to progress at the moment on the JCMB and even to the follow-up to the Kabul Conference.

That issue is not the Council’s responsibility, but that of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The IMF is engaged and, to be fair to Minister Zakhilwal, eight out of the 10 indicators that were requested to be deployed in order to reassure the international community and the IMF have been addressed, but two remain. We hope and have been contributing to drawing the attention of the IMF to the possible consequences of an Afghan default, so to speak, which is not imminent if that is not approved but is certainly of concern. At the same time, Kabul Bank is a serious issue to the Afghan authorities — $800 million is not something to gloss over. Therefore, serious attention is being focused at the moment.

The same applies to the issue with which the Council is very familiar — the parliamentary crisis. We were hoping that would not take place 10 months after the elections and six months after the President had solemnly inaugurated the Parliament. We would then have been going through an election that, while imperfect, would be handled by the Afghan institutions during a continued political process.

Unfortunately, this has not been the case. A special court has indicated that 61 members of Parliament should perhaps leave their positions. There is a current tension, as the Council is aware. Our position is the position of the Security Council —
22 December. We will not change it. The second position is that, indeed, the judiciary has the right to prosecute anyone who has committed a crime, but not to change the outcome of elections, and that the solution must be an Afghan solution and a political solution, but not a judicial solution.

We are hopeful and will continue to work on behalf of the Council, together with the Afghan authorities, to avoid prolongation of that institutional crisis. Afghanistan needs checks and balances; it needs a Parliament, an executive and a judiciary that all work together. At the moment there is a cloud, but since I am an optimist, I am not expecting much rain, yet, on that issue.

The last point I will make, with the Council’s permission, is a message. This is a transition period in every sense. But there is also a message, which we must be certain the Afghans hear, that 2014 will not be 1989. They are worried, and rightly so, that for the third time during their recent history they will be graciously abandoned by the international community. I know that is not our intention and certainly not that of the United Nations or UNAMA. We are going to review our footprint. We will review the way that we must work, because transition is taking place everywhere. But we will be there — if everything is there and if the Afghans want us — for a long time. And I think that, from the international point of view, we need to constantly reassure the Afghans of that. That will help them to pass through the transition in this difficult period.