Monday, February 19, 2018

UN Security Council Debate on Building Regional Partnerships in Afghanistan and Central Asia

STATEMENT BY H.E. Hekmat Khalil Karzai

Deputy Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations at the

UN Security Council Debate on Building Regional Partnerships in Afghanistan and Central Asia

January 19, 2018

NEW YORK

(Please check against delivery)

بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم

Mr. President,

It is a great pleasure to address the Security Council. I would like to begin by first thanking you and the Government of Kazakhstan for bringing us together for this important meeting on Afghanistan and Central Asia.  We consider today’s meeting to be an important initiative on an issue of strategic relevance for peace and stability in Afghanistan and our wider region.  We thank Secretary General Guterres for his insightful presentation.

I am pleased to recognize the presence of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of our Central Asian neighboring States and other partner countries. The high-level representation in this meeting signifies a personal commitment to the imperative of securing lasting peace and stability in my country, for which we are deeply grateful.

Mr. President,

Today’s meeting comes just days after the Security Council’s visit to Afghanistan. The visit was an opportunity to discuss, broadly, a number of important issues, ranging from security, development and regional cooperation; to governance, human rights, and democratization. We are confident the outcome of the visit will factor positively in strengthening the international community’s engagement, cooperation and consensus on Afghanistan.

One issue that was highlighted in the visit concerns the topic on which we are meeting today: that Afghanistan’s stability and development should not be seen in isolation from the security and stability of the countries in our periphery and beyond. In this regard, the imperative of deepened cooperation between Afghanistan and Central Asian States on common challenges and promoting our shared prosperity has gained new impetus.

Afghanistan has always recognized the importance of our relations with all regional countries, especially those of Central Asia. These bonds have endured on the basis of mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity, shared interests and common affinities of culture and history. 

Despite these positive attributes, we had – during the past years – missed opportunities to elevate the scope of our cooperation for our common security, development and prosperity. Having said that, the past year has seen new dynamism take shape in our cooperation with Central Asian countries.

This is based on the firm commitment of the Government of Afghanistan to increase collaboration across multiple fields and sectors, such as regional connectivity; energy; trade and transit; security cooperation; agriculture, as well as the cultural and educational spheres.

This new dynamic is manifested in a series of high-level visits to the Central Asian region in 2017 by the leadership of the Afghan Government. Last July, President Ghani visited Ashgabat and met with Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow. In August, Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah visited Astana and met with Kazakh Prime Minister Bakhytzhan Sagintayev. And just last month, President Ghani paid a visit to Tashkent where he held wide-ranging discussions with his Uzbek counterpart, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and signed over 20 MOUs.

These visits have helped set in motion a new era of engagement, interaction and cooperation on a common agenda for our security, economic development and integration; as well as strengthening people to people ties.

Mr. President,

We all know that prosperity is not possible in the absence of security, a fundamental requirement in any society. Terrorism and violent extremism lie at the forefront of the inter-linked challenges threatening Afghanistan’s security and stability and that of the region. 

Our fight against terrorism is being conducted on behalf of the region and the world at large. In this struggle, we are making enormous sacrifices, in terms of human lives – ordinary civilians and our security forces alike. Despite all challenges, our forces have made progress in pressing violent militants and terrorists, including the Taliban; the Haqqani network; Al-Qaeda and Daesh, and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, among others. 

In the past 10 months alone, our Special Forces have carried out more than 2,000 security operations nationwide, which have resulted in major losses among violent militants, including foreign terrorist fighters who come from the region and beyond.

We are pleased to note that the imperative of addressing the problem of regional terrorist sanctuaries and safe-havens is now recognized more than ever before. This issue was loudly communicated by a broad spectrum of Afghan society during the Council’s visit to Afghanistan last week.

Experience has shown that terrorism impacts all of us, and the task of its elimination lies beyond the capacity of any single country alone. It requires a comprehensive effort. In the context of our joint endeavors, we must prevent the radicalization of our youth, and identify and prevent the problem of cross-border terrorism, criminal activities and other illegalities.

We must also work together to overcome the problem of illicit drugs. Progress in addressing this threat is only possible by joint and collaborative efforts, focused on all aspects of the challenge, including production, demand, trafficking of chemical precursors and consumption.

Mr. President,

We have engaged in comprehensive efforts to improve security and defeat terrorism. Outside the scope of military efforts, we are working to ensure success in our peace efforts with elements of the armed opposition.

On February 28, we will convene the second meeting of the Kabul Process, where we will present our WAY Forward for peace and combating terrorism to the international community. We count on the full support and endorsement of all partners to the process, including the Central Asian States.

The Kabul Process gathering will precede the Tashkent Conference on Afghanistan in late March, which we will jointly co-host with the Government of Uzbekistan. In this respect, we wish to highlight that all such initiatives should serve to reinforce Afghan-led and owned peace efforts, under the Kabul Process, which remains the over-arching framework.

On the margins of the Tashkent Conference, we also plan to hold the first meeting of the C5+Afghanistan. The (C5+1) cooperation framework for Afghanistan and Central Asia is an important new regional initiative that will maintain sustained dialogue across a broad spectrum of areas. The UN will, undoubtedly, have a role to play in the process.

Mr. President,

Today’s meeting also affirms that the dangerous nexus facing Afghanistan and the region must be and can only be addressed if existing efforts are integrated and woven together across the peace, security and development pillars. This imperative lies at the core of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process, an Afghan led initiative, which most Central Asian countries are part of. This will remain a key focus as we work to increase our cooperation with countries of Central Asia through different platforms, including the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in which we hope to gain full member status soon.

We also see additional space for cooperation with the UN Center on Preventive Diplomacy in multiple areas. In this context, we welcome the outcome of the Ministerial Meeting on Security and Development, which was convened in November by the Government of Uzbekistan; the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and UNRCCA. 

 

Efforts under these formats will help us overcome issue of common concern. In this connection, we are of the view that any regional approach, should harmonize and help consolidate existing international efforts for security and stability in Afghanistan.

Mr. President,

Another central theme in our discussion today concerns the crucial way in which the development agenda helps propel security. This is a key principle guiding international efforts to stabilize conflict situations worldwide. Afghanistan is no exception.

Over the past three years, the Afghan Government has worked tirelessly to advance economic cooperation to a new horizon. We have done so through the Regional Economic Cooperation Conference (RECCA), which has seen unprecedented progress since its inception in 2005. 

The past year has seen many notable achievements, but none as striking as the gains made in the area of regional economic cooperation. What we envisioned a few years back is now surely taking shape and becoming a reality.

Projects such as the Lapus Lazuli Corridor and 5 Nation Railway, connecting China, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Iran will have a profound impact on increasing connectivity and boosting movement of goods, ideas and peoples. 

2017 also saw headway in the implementation of other mega projects, such as the CASA 1000 and TAPI electricity and natural gas initiatives. Moreover, the Chabahar Port is now operational, increasing the flow and trade of goods.  Over the course of the year, we will work to further progress on these initiatives, the benefits of which are far-reaching and not only help boost trade and transit, but also facilitate the exchange of new and innovative ideas for our common prosperity.

Mr. President,

Our gathering here today symbolizes the unique opportunity that lies before us – an opportunity to shift the dynamic and transform the nexus of regional threats such as terrorism, instability and other criminal activities to a nexus of peace, security and economic growth and development for our prosperity. In this connection, we believe a new start towards regional engagement and convergence has begun. It is up to us to do our share and transform this new vision into reality. Afghanistan stands confident in the success of our endeavor.   

I thank you Mr. President.

 

 

 

 

 

The Situation in Afghanistan

STATEMENT BY H.E. Abdullah Abdullah

 Chief Executive of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations

Adoption of the UN General Assembly resolution on

“The Situation in Afghanistan”

 (check against delivery)

 20 November 2017

NEW YORK

  

بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم

Mr. President,

Excellencies and distinguished members of the UN General Assembly,

We thank you for convening today’s debate on the Situation in Afghanistan. It is my pleasure to be here with my accompanying delegation, as the General Assembly adopts its annual resolution on Afghanistan. This occasion is reflective of the international community’s strong consensus on the imperative of ensuring stability and prosperity in my country, and we look forward to the emergence of a peaceful regional environment.

This year again, the delegation of Germany demonstrated its excellent leadership of intergovernmental negotiations on the draft resolution that will be adopted later today. We thank the Mission of Germany for its efforts in this regard, and more broadly, my appreciation to all delegations for contributing to the negotiations process.

Mr. President,

Seventy-one years ago, yesterday, Afghanistan became the 52nd member of this great family – the United Nations. Since the late 1970s, my country has undergone severe trauma after suffering tremendous loses caused by imposed conflicts and the war against terrorism and violent extremism – which is still hurting us. Despite the hardship, today Afghanistan has regained its status as a responsible member of the international community. The unanimous adoption of this year’s resolution signals the overwhelming support of the world behind us, as we continue our quest to achieve lasting peace and prosperity for Afghanistan.

My presence here today is a testimony to the importance that the people and Government of Afghanistan attach to this resolution, and more specifically, to its more focused implementation. We, therefore, expect and request that member-states view this resolution from a similar perspective.

In spite of the challenges that confront us, Afghanistan stands resilient and confident of our stance at home and abroad.  We are a nation firmly committed to the ideals of the UN Charter and the vision of a global landscape pillared on peace, sovereignty, mutual-respect, and cooperation for common benefit.

We equally value our bond of partnership with the UN, which has always stood in strong support and solidarity with my nation, especially in the most difficult of times. Today UNAMA and all UN agencies on the ground continue to play an important role in helping us with various aspects of recovery, rebuilding, humanitarian assistances and seeking a peaceful resolution to our political and security needs. We welcome the Secretary General’s UN reform initiative and hope that it will expedite our visualization of a One-UN approach in Afghanistan.

Today, we are reciprocating the international community’s generosity by our active engagement and positive contributions. Afghanistan’s recent election to the Human Rights Council for the first time, our membership to ECOSOC, Vice-Presidency of the General Assembly, active involvement in other forums, and the successful adoption of two Afghan-initiated resolutions “Countering the Threat posed by Improvised Explosive Devices” and “International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism,” attest our national will, our diplomatic efforts, and our eagerness to be an effective global contributor.

Mr. President,

Let me now provide an update on the situation in Afghanistan. In security, over recent months, our national security forces have effectively thwarted attempts by the Taliban, alongside the affiliated Haqqani network, as well as elements of Al-Qaida, Daesh and other recognized terror groups from making any notable gains, or capturing a major urban center.

We are not dealing with one, but several terror outfits that either mirror each other under different labels or indirectly support overlapping agendas.

We are grateful to all our international partners for their contributions for equipping and training our security forces, who have courageously and at high cost led the fight against the same international terrorist and violent extremist groups that threaten us, the region and many others beyond our borders.

The resolution also reaffirms the importance of the international community’s continued support for Afghan national security forces.  To this end, we have adopted new measures, to complement and better coordinate with newly announced strategies by the United States, NATO, the European Union and others, which came at our long-standing request, in the context of sustained international support for security and stability in Afghanistan, whether military or civilian in nature.

We firmly believe that a conditions-based approach and clear focus on resolving the problem of regional terrorist sanctuaries and support systems are core issues that will get us closer to peace and stability. They also form the cornerstone of our new National Security Strategy to defeat terrorism, work with nations that share our threat perception, and protect our people against politicized violence.

We have long asserted that we seek friendly relations with all nations. We have used every opportunity to make it clear through words and deeds that we will never allow our relations with any single country or group of countries to overshadow or adversely affect relations with other countries in the region or beyond. Afghanistan is to be seen as a strategic asset and a platform of cordiality for all. We consider negative state rivalries and the use of violent proxy forces as counter-productive. There is no good or bad terrorist or violent extremist. We need to agree to fight all forms and shades of terror. We can and should no longer harbor or support one group while fight another and claim to be fighting terrorism in all its dimensions.

Mr. President,

This year’s resolution also recognizes the centrality of Afghanistan’s role in leading peace efforts, within the framework of the Kabul Process to supplement initiatives for action-oriented cooperation.

These efforts will also be guided by the Afghanistan High Peace Council’s New Strategic Plan, centered on a “whole of society approach” in promoting peace.

At the regional level, fostering stable and constructive relations with all our neighbors, especially Pakistan, remains a key component of our peace strategy. President Ashraf Ghani and I hope that this time around, action against all forms of terrorism will speak louder than words.

It should be noted that changing the status quo can only be possible when terror subsides, infringements on our territory comes to a halt and safe havens are shut down. Failure to do so will have negative consequences and result in further tension or worse.

Mr. President,

Through the Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework, we have taken concrete and systemic measures to implement a reform agenda, offer better governance and aim for more self-reliance. Our economy, hurt by the 2014 end-of-combat mission of international forces, which relied on a large-scale military expenditure, has turned the corner and is giving signs of recovery, especially in private sector investment and development.

Since the formation of the Government of National Unity, domestic revenue has seen important gains, which, in turn, have helped us shoulder more responsibility for our security and development needs.  Moreover, we are making steady progress in the development of our national infrastructure – including roads, industry, energy, telecommunication and transport networks. Once completed, these projects will improve connectivity and generate economic growth in Afghanistan and our region.

Mr. President,

Once an ambitious vision, the regional economic cooperation agenda is transforming into reality. Afghanistan is becoming a hub for regional and inter-regional trade, transit and transport. Energy transfer is a major component now and into the future.

I am pleased to highlight the successful outcome of the 7th Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA) held in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan last week, where Afghanistan, regional countries, and other international stakeholders recommitted to the full implementation of at-least eighteen major regional projects.  These include the CASA 1000 and TAPI energy and natural gas initiatives, as well as the Chabahar transport and transit project. 

The recent historic signing of the Lapis Lazuli route agreement between Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey marks another important development in the advancement of economic and cultural links in the region.

Additionally, the air corridor with India has increased trade volume between our countries, while major railway projects with China, The Islamic Republic of Iran, Kyrgyz Republic, and Tajikistan are also moving forward.  All in all, these mega projects hold the promise of propelling a new era of economic prosperity for the wider region.

Mr. President,

We, in the Government of National Unity, recognize that strengthening good-governance and the rule of law is an imperative for our stability and prosperity.  We are making all efforts to fulfill the commitments we made at the London, Warsaw, and Brussels Conferences in 2014 and 2016. 

The National Strategy for Combating Corruption – a living document – which was adopted in September lays out clear strategies and solutions for systemic reforms across government institutions and agencies. One such example is the public civil administration. The Supreme Court, Attorney General’s Office, and the Anti-Corruption Justice Center, have so far tried over a thousand cases of corruption, bribery and abuse of authority, including senior ranking officials.

We have made clear to our people and our international partners that the principle of accountability will not be compromised at any cost.  In the area of fiscal sustainability, we have improved our financial systems to the point where it is now declared in conformity with international standards. Our efforts in the areas of the rule of law and governance will continue as a matter of priority.

Prevailing insecurity has also led to an increase in drug production in some parts of the country. The dangerous nexus between terrorism and narcotic drugs, therefore, demands a more focused and collective effort from within the region and beyond.

Mr. President,

Full participation of women in the sociopolitical processes and economy remains a core priority, in line with UN Security Council Resolution 1325. Today, Afghan women proudly represent our country in all spheres. I would especially like to thank more than 8,500 women who are serving in our security forces. Their contribution and sacrifice is helping us deal with cases of criminality, violence and abuse.

Finally, I want to draw your attention to the most important aspect of political stability: learning from the past and assuring free, fair and transparent elections. We are in preparation mode alongside the Independent Election Commission to bring necessary reforms to the electoral process to make sure that public trust and participation is restored to this critical pledge. We are committed to holding parliamentary elections in 2018, followed by presidential elections in 2019. We thank the UN and all other partners for their help in this regard.

Mr. President,

To conclude, I can say with utmost confidence that the contributions, investments and joint sacrifices made in these past seventeen years have made a huge difference. From a domestic standpoint, the notable gains made across various sectors have had a profound impact in improving the lives of ordinary Afghans across our country.

Our civil society is vibrant, our free media is functioning as a check-and-balance system, and our growing youth population is less inclined to leave the country, looking at opportunities and prospects at home. Just two days ago, our under-19 national cricket team won the Asian championship in Malaysia.

All in all, we are committed to continuing this journey based on the wishes of the Afghan people, and enjoying the support of the international community.

Once again, security being a vital priority for us, and those who are affected by insecurity across our region and beyond, at this important juncture, let us reinvigorate the spirit of international partnership and effective engagement on which the global fight against terrorism began seventeen years ago. Doing so provides the best guarantee for the security and prosperity of all our nations.

Thank you.

 

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres meets with H.E. Dr. Abdullah Abdullah

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres meets with H.E. Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Chief Executive, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

Permanent Mission of Afghanistan