Saturday, December 3, 2016

Statement by H.E. Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani At the High-Level Meeting on Migration and Refugees

 

19 September 2016.

At the outset, I wish to convey our gratitude to the President of the General Assembly for convening today’s High-Level Meeting on Addressing the Large Movement of Refugees and Migrants. We have gathered here today against the backdrop of the unprecedented flow of migrants and refugees, across the world.  The time has, therefore, come to put into motion, a concerted international response to address this growing phenomenon holistically, and in all its aspects.

 

Mr. President,

Based on our own experience, Afghanistan is well aware of the complex challenge associated with the issue of global refugees.  The legacy of more than two-decades of armed conflict and violence brought about a situation, whereby millions of Afghan women and children were forced to leave their homes and seek refugee abroad. More than 95% of our refugees live in neighboring countries, Iran and Pakistan, and we are grateful for their generosity in hosting our people.

 

Since beginning a new chapter in Afghanistan in 2001, millions of Afghans returned to their homeland, marking the largest repatriation movement in modern history.  For several years now, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), and other humanitarian organizations have had the central role in international efforts to support and assist Afghan refugees during some of the most difficult moments of our nation’s life. We are grateful for their support and commitment to address the plight of our refugees and IDP’s.

 

Needless to say, millions of our citizens remain refugees, and continue to face difficult social, economic and humanitarian conditions.  In this regard, I would like to underscore the importance of ensuring that all refugees, whether Afghan or of any other nationality – are granted respect and equal treatment by host countries, in accordance with international humanitarian law, and human rights law.

 

As for the case of Afghan refugees they are known to be high achievers in whichever society they have become part of.  They have integrated with host communities and strived to achieve success, thereby rendering an important contribution in various spheres of society.  We call on all host countries to accommodate their protection and well being.

 

Mr. President,

Since its formation two years ago, the National Unity Government has pursued a national and regional effort together with our relevant international partners for a viable and long-term solution to the plight of Afghan refugees, with special emphasis on voluntary return, and sustainable reintegration.
To that end, the Quadripartite Commission, comprising Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees, adopted in Geneva in 2012, remain the overarching framework, within which the National Unity Government is striving to achieve the voluntary, gradual and dignified return of our refugees, and their sustainable reintegration.

 

As a matter of equal importance, we are also adamantly focused on addressing the problems faced by our internally displaced persons (IDP’s), which over the past two years, has increased in number, mainly resulting from insecurity in some parts of the country, caused by violence and terror, committed by the Taliban and affiliate groups.  Here, I would like to reiterate our appeal to the international community to render a long-term supporting role to effectively address the plight of our refugees and IDP’s.
We in the National Unity Government are cognizant that Afghanistan’s social and economic development provides the ultimate guarantee for resolving the challenges facing refugees and IDP’s, in a holistic manner. We are working to improve conditions for our peoples in town, villages and districts across Afghanistan.  To this end, we look to the up-coming Brussels Conference on Afghanistan in two weeks time, where we hope the international community will make new pledges of assistance to help us implement our National Peace and Development Framework, which aims at enabling us to achieve self-reliance during the Transformation Decade.

 

Mr. President,

We are pleased that today’s high-level meeting offers due focus and attention to addressing the root causes of migration, at the global level.  In most cases, those who resettle do so not as a matter of choice but of circumstances. Poverty, conflict and a lack of economic opportunities are some of the main factors, leading to resettlement.  In this regard, the central role of the UN will remain of strategic importance in providing support across a wide-spectrum, including development assistance; conflict-prevention; systems development, as well as in peace-building and national reconciliation.

 

The adoption of the SDG’s, last September here in New York was a milestone, charting a new development framework over the next fifteen years. The implementation of the SDG’s will go a long way in helping to ensure peace, security and a stable economic environment in countries of origin, offering an incentive to people and families to avoid resettlement.
Mr. President,

After settling in their country of destination, migrants and refugees are presented with both opportunities and challenges.  Many are able to broaden their horizon, and benefit from a new experience and environment where they could live free from violence, conflict and often times, persecution and improve their plight, and that of their families.  Having said that, far too often, their new experience is not void of difficulties.

 

In this context, Afghanistan conveys its concern over the continuing trend where migrants and refugees are subject to acts of xenophobia, discrimination and other stereotypes, based on religious and cultural differences in some parts of the world.  A renewed effort is necessary to push back against this dangerous narrative, which constitutes a clear violation of international humanitarian law, including human rights law. We welcome the Secretary General’s proposal to launch a “global campaign to counter various forms of discrimination against migrants and refugees. “

 

We must bear in mind, that among those who resettle, there are those who bring with them unique skills and creative ideas that serve as positive factors, for the development of stable and healthy societies.  We must perceive diversity as a source of strength and optimism, rather than seeing it from a negative perspective.  After all, humanity is one; irrespective of our cultural, religious and geographical differences.  We all aspire towards the same goals:  the chance to live in peace, to prosper, and above all, to ensure a better and brighter life for our children and future generations.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today’s Summit is a fitting opportunity for all of us to reaffirm our shared commitment to protect, and promote the rights of all Refugees and Migrants, and to do so in adherence to the UN Charter, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

 

Afghanistan welcomes the adoption of the Conference Declaration and its two annexes: the “Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework, and “Towards a Global Compact for Safe Orderly and Regular Migration.” Let us leverage the full range of resources at our disposal, and expand our collaboration to address all aspects related to the increased flow of migrants and refugees, across the globe.

 

Before concluding, I want to convey our gratitude to their Excellencies David Donoghue, and Ms. Dina Kawar, Permanent Representatives of the Republic of Ireland and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, for so ably leading the inter-governmental negotiations on our Conference Declaration!

 

 

Thank You!

 

Statement by H.E. Zarar Ahmad Osmani Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan at the Sixty-Ninth Session of the United Nations General Assembly

Saturday, 27 September 2014

بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم

Mr. President,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to express my sincere congratulations on your well-deserved election as president of the sixty-ninth session of the United Nations General Assembly.

We are confident that your wisdom and experience well ensure a constructive and fruitful deliberation on the very important and vital issues before this august Assembly. I would like to assure you of the full cooperation of my delegation towards this end.

I may also express my deep appreciation to your predecessor and my gratitude to the secretary General of the United Nations, H.E. Ban Ki-Moon, for his competent and excellent leadership of the organization.

Mr. President,

I am delighted to report to this assembly that Afghanistan has achieved a significant milestone with the successful conclusion of the presidential election including the important task of recounting the votes. The new president, Dr. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzi, will be sworn in on 29 September. Afghanistan is witnessing transfer of power from one elected administration to the next. While Afghanistan faces marked challenges, we are confident that the new government, which enjoys the full backing of a vast majority of Afghans, will strive to bring about political, security and socioeconomic prosperity to Afghanistan and by extension to the region and beyond.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It was over a decade ago when many countries of the world joined the Afghan people in their struggle for peace and fought against the forces of extremism and terrorism. In this regard, we have collectively achieved tangible results, but unfortunately the menace of terrorism and extremism continue to threaten the security, socio-economic development and peace not only in Afghanistan but also in the region. There is an urgent need for a comprehensive response to the threats from terrorism and extremism at regional and international levels.

Today, Afghanistan has credible political institutions, and elected parliament, a constitution and elected provincial council, supported by the brave Afghan National Security Forces. The people of Afghanistan have witnessed many positive achievements in past decade including in the fields of socioeconomic development, education – especially education for our girls – health, communications and information technology, promotion and protection of humans rights including particularly women’s rights. Afghanistan has one of the most dynamic media scenes in the region, which is propelled by the freedom of expression that the Afghan people enjoyed for over a decade. We should underscore the pioneering spirit of our youth who are behind much of the innovativeness and diversity of thought in academia and private sector.

The Afghan people appreciate and are thankful to the international community for their vital support they have given to built security, peace and prosperity in Afghanistan, we are looking forward to a continued mutual cooperation with the international community to protect our achievements and ensure the sustainability of a strong partnership.

Mr. President,

The transfer of security responsibilities from International forces to the Afghan National Security Forces for the whole of Afghanistan that was launched in the summer of 2011 will be achieved by the end of 2014.

As we speak, Afghan forces are providing security independently across the country despite increasing acts of terrorism inside Afghanistan with support from terrorists from beyond our borders. The growing levels of violent extremism and alarming developments in the Middle East and other parts of the world make international support to NATO mission in Afghanistan even more imperative.

Parallel to our ongoing efforts to enhance the capacity and capabilities of our National Security forces, the Afghan Government is also pursuing a dialogue for achieving peace through political means and reconciliation. We have put in place clear conditions to this process to be accepted by the Afghan people:  for instance we demand renunciations of violence and respect for Afghanistan’s Constitution as it guarantees full and equal rights to Afghan men and women, and is the only tool for preservation of our collective achievements of the past decade.

Afghanistan strongly believes in comprehensive, long term, friendly and good-neighborly relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan in the fight against terrorism and strengthening of peace and stability between two nations and in the region.

At the same time, we would like to express our serious concern over the rocket attacks by Pakistani forces into Afghanistan’s soil. Continuation of such attacks is unacceptable for Afghanistan. We hope that the government of Pakistan, considering our common interests in ensuring peace and stability, put an end to any kind of acts that can endanger the outlook of good neighborly relations and to protect cooperation and trust between our two nations.

Mr. President,

The Afghan government is keen to reduce the negative economic impact of the security transition and to move towards sustainable economic development in at least three ways:

First, by focusing on the development of agriculture and agribusiness sectors where over 70 percent of our population is directly or indirectly engaged with enormous potential for growth and employment generation

Second, Afghanistan is estimated to hold trillions of dollars of natural resources including minerals and hydrocarbons, representing a guaranteed source of wealth and income for generations to come. We already have several state-owned and private companies from China, India, the UK, Canada, Turkey, the UAE, Azerbaijan and other countries in addition to Afghan companies expressing a keen interest in investing billions of dollars.

Third, Afghanistan is now on the eve of transformation decade (2015-2024), which is a multi-dimensional process in security, political and economic fronts. Therefore, the 2012 Tokyo and Chicago Conferences’ pledges will maintain the Afghan government overall socioeconomic efforts. Afghanistan critically needs continuation of this generous support from its international partners over the next few years.

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Based on Afghanistan’s Millennium Development Goals report published in late 2013, progress in achieving most of the MDG’s targets in particular related to the health and universal primary education is commendable.

Despite of starting in 2005, Afghanistan is committed to achieve most of the MDGs by 2020. Meanwhile, national consultation is underway to synchronize efforts towards achieving MDGs off track targets considering the outcome of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals.

As we embark on the important task of crafting the new development agenda for post-2015 at this session, I am happy to inform you that it also coincides with Afghanistan’s transformation decade 2015-2025.  Both are top priorities for Afghanistan’s national development agenda.

We appreciate the work of the United Nations in recognizing the need to reduce the number of the Sustainable Development Goals to an affordable, achievable and realistic number in the post-2015 development agenda. We are of the view that this agenda should leave no one behind, it should be adaptable to both global and local settings and it should have sustainable development and poverty eradication at its center.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our region is blessed with vast resources and opportunities for economic cooperation. An expanded level of regional cooperation can serve both economic and security purposes. The Afghan Government’s regional economic cooperation strategic goal is to establish Regional Economic growth and resource corridors that connect – the Silk Roads through Afghanistan – the people of South and Central Asia, the Middle East and their key economic activities, including agriculture, light manufacturing, and mineral extraction, with essential trade, transit, and energy enablers.

Regional cooperation is one of our priorities. The Heart of Asia- Istanbul process is a significant step towards enhancing stability and regional cooperation between Afghanistan and 12 participating countries, with the support of 12 other country partners and 9 international organizations.

Mr. President,

This year’s General Assembly takes place at a time when the UN has seen a number of conflicts continue, while new ones have taken shape.

My government fully supports the inalienable right of the Palestinian people and the establishment of the independent Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital. We strongly condemn illegal actions and violations by the occupying power against the Palestinians as a whole, especially the ongoing disproportionate and indiscriminate attacks on the innocent Palestinian civilians.

We express our grief for the killing of innocent civilians in Syria and support a political resolution, reached through a broad based national dialogue that meets the aspiration of all the Syrians.

With the worsening security situation in IRAQ and Libya, we strongly condemn the actions of the ISIS and its brutality and call for joint efforts to defeat this evil. In this context, I call upon the United Nations to take appropriated actions within its mandate to uphold international peace and security.

My delegation believes that there is urgent need for the international community to pay attention to the resolution of the crisis in Ukraine, while taking into account the situation of civilians.

Mr. President,

In the end, let me assure you that Afghanistan remains committed to its national and international responsibilities and obligations. We reaffirm our strong will for further strengthening of democracy, good governance including, further strengthening rule of law, accountability and transparency, promotion and protection of human rights, particularly woman rights; justice reforms, and the fight against terrorism, narcotic drugs, corruption and eradication of poverty.

Thank you.

H.E. Zarar Ahmad Osmani, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan, addresses the general debate of the sixty-ninth session of the General Assembly.

H.E. Zarar Ahmad Osmani, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan, addresses the general debate of the sixty-ninth session of the General Assembly.

Statement by H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan At the General Debate of the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly

27 September 2013
New York

Bismillah arrahman arrahim!

 

Your Excellency Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki-moon,

 

Your Excellency President of the General Assembly Mr. John Ashe,

 

Fellow Heads of Delegation,

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

I bring you all the warm greetings and good wishes of the Afghan people.

 

I have the honour of addressing this august assembly in the last year of the current elected government of Afghanistan, so I think it’s useful to briefly revisit the story of Afghanistan over the past twelve years – our historic successes and our concrete achievements that have transformed Afghanistan, and, yes, the challenges that we’ve faced continuously during this time. Following on that, I’d like to share with you the vision of the Afghan people and government for the future of freedom, dignity, prosperity and democracy that we’re striving to solidify in our country, and briefly address the critical importance of our relations and cooperation with countries in our region and the broader community of nations.

 

To better illustrate the journey that Afghanistan and its noble people have been on over the past twelve years, I’d like to share two contrasting pictures of the reality of Afghanistan, in the year 2001 at the time of the collapse of the Taliban regime and the year 2013 as we’re going through a historic period and process of transition.

 

During the little more than two decades up to November 2001 when the Afghan people ousted the Taliban regime from power with military backing from the US-led international military coalition, the people of Afghanistan had experienced and suffered incalculable pain, deprivation and losses through three distinct periods.

 

Between the communist coup in 1978 and the subsequent invasion of our country in 1979 and the fall of the communist regime, more than one million Afghan men, women and children were killed, more than two million were made orphans or left with severe war wounds and over five million were forced out of their villages and towns into refugee camps in neighbouring countries, mainly Pakistan and Iran, as a result of the brutality of the occupation and the communist regime and during our resistance against the occupation of our country. We fought that resistance – our holy jehad – for our freedom and independence and we won, in the process helping the national freedom and independence movements in Eastern Europe.

The international community that had supported our struggle for several years abandoned us when the defeat and withdrawal of the Red Army became apparent.

 

Exploiting the vacuum and internal strife created during the early 1990s, the foreign-backed Taliban movement rose to power The Taliban quickly controlled more than ninety percent of Afghan territory, but then equally quickly they removed their masks and revealed their true identity that held the Afghan nation hostage and unleashed a period of particularly cruel and barbaric violence and cruelty against them under the guise of Islam. Through their backward worldview, sheer violence and brutal suppression of the rights and freedoms of the Afghan people, especially women, they turned the country against themselves.

 

The international community was only mobilized to take action against the Taliban regime in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States, including in this city.

 

At the time we were getting ready to drive the Taliban regime from power at the end of 2001 with military backing from the US-led international coalition, Afghanistan was in near-total dark isolation from the region and the world community. The Afghan people represented a terrorized population who had no rights, no freedoms and no protection from regime brutality.

Severe poverty and disease were endemic with little or no access to healthcare services. The education system, completely excluding women and girls, and with fewer than half a million male students attending schools and universities, was a catastrophic failure. The average annual per capita income was about $100 and the country lacked a single national currency. Our roads, bridges, irrigation networks and other components of critical national infrastructure were completely destroyed. Afghanistan did not have a national army or a national police force and all our other state institutions had been reduced to rubble. In short, Afghanistan was a failed state ruled by a proxy militant group that provided shelter to international terrorists, thus posing a real danger to regional and international peace and security.

 

Mr. President,

 

The situation in Afghanistan during that period was indeed bleak. The Afghan people had little hope for their future and the future of their youth and children.

 

However, following the Al Qaida terrorist attacks in the United States, the Afghan people came together and with support from the United States and a multitude of other friends and allies in the international community, removed the Taliban from power and embarked on a new era of hope, reconstruction, development and progress, a new era marked by an entirely different reality.

 

Primarily as a result of our own sacrifices and the considerable sacrifices and support of our international friends and allies during our twelve-year partnership, Afghanistan once again the home of all Afghans – men and women – where they enjoy equal rights and freedoms under our moderate, democratic constitution.

 

Today, Afghanistan is a forward-looking young democracy with functioning state institutions, an elected president, an elected parliament and elected provincial councils in each one of our 34 provinces, backed up by a powerful civil society movement. Afghan independent media – with around 50 independent TV channels, over 100 community FM radio stations and hundreds of print publications – is arguably one of the freest in the region.

Today, there are more than 20 million mobile phone users across Afghanistan, an increasing number of them accessing information and using various platforms on the internet.

 

Per capita income has increased from $100 a year to over $600 a year, our national currency has been consistently stable, and our trade ties with the outside world are rapidly expanding.

 

Today, in this new Afghanistan, the number of children that attend school stands at well over ten million, 40 percent of them girls, and there are hundreds of thousands of young men and women attending some 70 government and private colleges and universities.

 

More than seventy percent of our people today have access to basic healthcare services, which, among other things, has increased average life expectancy from around 40 years to above 60 years in just one decade.

 

We have built thousands of kilometers of roads, irrigation canals, bridges, and other pieces of our country’s critical physical infrastructure, thus cutting travel times and facilitating trade and the movement of people through the country and with neighbouring countries.

 

Afghanistan today is a proud and active member of the international community while managing our ever-expanding relations and cooperation with countries and organizations around the world through a network of some seventy diplomatic and consular missions.

 

Mr. President,

 

The examples of rejuvenation and development, progress and achievements that I just described represent the true picture of the reality in today’s Afghanistan. And considering that twelve years is not a very long time in the history of a country, especially a country like Afghanistan that has gone through more than 35 years of war and destruction, these achievements and gains are nothing short of a historic transformation.

 

 

Mr. President,

 

I have drawn this clear contrast between the Afghanistan of ten years ago and the positive reality of today for two main reasons. One, to underscore a model of collective action and international cooperation in support of national efforts for peace, security and development in a country, and, two, to counter a narrative of doom and gloom for Afghanistan by those who are ignorant about our progress or harbour ill will towards us.

 

Indeed, this new Afghanistan is currently going through a critical period of security, economic and political transition that comes with its difficulties and challenges but that is helping us consolidate our fledgling democratic order and strengthen our national sovereignty, independence and ownership of our own affairs.

 

This is the vision of the Afghan people and government for the years leading up to the completion of transition in 2014 and into the Transformation Decade of 2015 to 2024.

 

In the security area, it is our more than 350000 brave and professional soldiers and police officers – not foreign soldiers – who are directly responsible for the security of more than ninety percent of the Afghan population. The transfer of security responsibilities from international forces to Afghan national security forces, which we launched in the summer of 2011, throughout the country will be complete by the end of 2014. Our forces have demonstrated their courage, commitment and effectiveness in successfully taking over from their international partners. It is through the enormous and selfless sacrifices of our proud and patriotic national security forces on a daily basis that security in most cities and towns that have gone through transition has improved, and the Taliban have been beaten back.

 

We are fully confident that with the continued financial assistance of the international community for equipment and other requirements and needs as pledged at the Chicago NATO Summit in May 2012, Afghan national forces will be able to provide security to the Afghan people and defend the country against external threats.

 

Parallel to our ongoing efforts to enhance the capacity and capabilities of our national security forces, the Afghan government is pursuing a political process of peace and reconciliation with the Taliban. The key principles and conditions for this process are clear: respect for Afghanistan’s constitution, which guarantees full and equal rights to Afghan men and women, preservation and improvement of our achievements over the past decade and renunciation of violence against the population.

 

The Islamic Republic of Pakistan, a major neighbour, can play a key role in supporting our peace efforts. We’ve been heartened by the recent successful visit to Islamabad by President Karzai and the positive and constructive dialogue that took place between the two governments during that visit. We look forward to further steps and progress in the weeks and months to come.

Pakistan’s essential role in advancing the Afghan peace process is a clear example of the support that Afghanistan’s neighbours and other countries in the region, especially Muslim countries, can provide to the Afghan peace process.

Mr. President,

As far as the economic component of transition is concerned, the presence of a large international military force over the past ten years has generated employment and income opportunities for thousands of our citizens, so it is natural that there will be an adverse impact resulting from the withdrawal of these forces.

In addition to our best efforts to realize Afghanistan’s role as the trade, transit and economic integration roundabout in the Heart of Asia region to the benefit of all the peoples of the region, the Afghan government is keen to reduce the negative economic impact of international military withdrawal and to strengthen our national economy in at least three ways.

 

First, by focusing on the development of the agriculture and agribusiness sector where over 70 percent of our population is directly or indirectly engaged, and where there is enormous potential for growth and employment generation.

 

Second, Afghanistan is estimated to hold trillions of dollars of natural resources, including minerals and hydrocarbons, representing a guaranteed source of wealth and income for generations to come.

 

We already have several state-owned and private companies – from China, India, the UK, Canada, Turkey, the UAE and other countries in addition to Afghan companies – expressing a keen interest in investing billions of dollars in copper, iron ore, gold, oil and gas. And we’re actively seeking additional foreign investments into this sector while remaining duly diligent to make sure our natural riches serve the goal of a strong legitimate national economy and improved prosperity and welfare for the Afghan people.

 

Third, the Tokyo conference last July pledged over $16 billion through 2015 to help the Afghan government fill its projected fiscal gap. Conference participants also committed to provide additional financial assistance to Afghanistan beyond 2016 at or near levels of the past decade. This generous financial support will be critical in tiding us over during the next few years.

 

Mr. President,

 

In addition to the security and economic transitions, we have a crucial political transition coming up next year, namely presidential and provincial council elections.

Next year’s presidential elections will mark the first time in our country’s history when one elected president will transfer power to another elected president through a peaceful, democratic process. The Afghan government is doing everything possible to ensure free, fair and credible elections so that the Afghan people can choose who the next president will be. A successful presidential election will entrench our democratic process and greatly contribute to our efforts towards lasting peace, security and prosperity.

 

Mr. President,

 

As we go forward in implementing the transition agenda and preparing for the Transformation Decade, another key foundation of our long-term success will be the strategic partnerships we have forged with some of our closest friends and allies over the past few years.

Since October 2011 when we signed our first long-term strategic partnership agreement with the Republic of India, we have entered into similar long-term strategic partnerships with the United States, Germany, Australia, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Poland. We’ve also concluded or are currently negotiating similar partnerships with the European Union, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

 

Here, I would also like to repeat the Afghan government and people’s appreciation for the solid and broad-based expression of long-term political support for a peaceful, prosperous, democratic Afghanistan by more than 100 countries and organizations at the historic international Bonn conference kindly hosted by the German government in December 2011.

Specifically with the United States, we are also negotiating a separate Bilateral Security Agreement that will define the parameters of the long-term security and defense cooperation between our two countries.

 

I would also like to reiterate our long-standing principled position that any bilateral security agreements Afghanistan signs with other countries, including the United States, will only be for the purpose of ensuring peace, security, development and the consolidation of our young democracy and not directed at our neighbours or any other country in the region.

 

Mr. President,

 

Afghanistan belongs to its region. And as recent history has clearly demonstrated the peace, security and stability of Afghanistan as the centre of the Heart of Asia region has a direct impact on the peace, security and stability of the entire region and vice versa. We want Afghanistan to serve its rightful role as the key land bridge in our vital region for the flow of people, goods and investments.

In this context, the Istanbul Process that we launched together with our Turkish friends and all other participating and supporting states of the process in November 2011 for confidence building and promoting result-oriented cooperation is vital importance.

Two follow-on ministerial meetings – in Kabul in June 2012 and in Almaty in April this year – have taken the process to the level of maturity. It has now developed into a meaningful forum for discussion on specific confidence building measures and enjoys considerable momentum. As the permanent co-chair of this process, the Afghan government is particularly grateful to the Peoples Republic of China for hosting the next ministerial meeting next summer.

Mr. President,

In addition to improving cooperation and confidence on a whole range of other issues, all countries in our region and our allies and friends in the international community must continue to decisively confront the single biggest challenge that continues to endanger our collective peace and security and undermines the welfare of our people, namely the continuing menace of terrorism and extremism and their sanctuaries and support systems in the region.

We will not realize the full potential of our citizens or achieve true and lasting peace and security in Afghanistan or the wider region until we’ve dealt decisively against the brutality and evilness of the terrorists who try to harm us everyday. Fortunately, we’re more hopeful now than in the past about a gathering common approach against terrorism and extremism in our region.

Mr. President,

This year’s general assembly takes place at a time in which the UN has seen a number of conflicts continue, while new ones have taken shape.

 

In Syria, we watch the ongoing immeasurable suffering of the great people of that country. Afghanistan calls for an immediate halt to the violence there that has taken the lives of over a hundred thousand people, has forced over 2 million Syrians to become refugees; and has left 6.8 million people in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. We strongly support a political solution, reached through a broad-based national dialogue that meets the aspirations of all Syrians. Moreover, the international community must provide necessary support to address the humanitarian needs of those affected by the conflict, including the millions who have sought refuge in neighboring countries.

 

Speaking of long-standing conflicts, none is more evident than the decades-long strife between Palestine and Israel. Following years of deadlock and impasse, we see renewed efforts for a peaceful settlement have emerged with the resumption of direct negotiations between the two-sides. This is an important development, which we hope will result in durable peace, enabled by the establishment of an independent Palestinian State. We also hope to witness the inclusion of the State of Palestine as a full member of this organization.

 

Mr. President,

 

In conclusion, Mr. President, as I stand before this assembly, I feel more strongly than ever before that our shared vision of a world free from violence, conflict and destitution will only be achieved if we put our differences aside, and act as one. If we adhere to the principles of understanding, solidarity and cooperation, we will be able to secure our collective future, as evidenced in the historic successes we have achieved in Afghanistan over the past twelve years.

 

The UN has been a reliable partner in helping us come this far. As we prepare to embark upon the Transformation Decade, we expect the organization to continue its support through a renewed approach that reinforces Afghanistan’s leadership and ownership.

 

Let me also assure you, Mr. President, that as we in Afghanistan work to preserve our gains and consolidate our young democracy in the crucial years ahead, we will remain an active member of the United Nations.

 

Thank you.