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Statement of H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan at the Heart of Asia Ministerial – Kabul

Kabul, 14 June 2012 — DRAFT

Your Excellency President Karzai,

My Esteemed Co-Chair, Your Excellency Foreign Minister Davotuglu,

Excellencies foreign ministers and heads of delegation from the Heart of Asia countries and the supporting countries to the Istanbul Process,

Distinguished delegates, dear guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen:

At the outset, let me once again extend my personal and the Afghan foreign government’s collective warm welcome and heartfelt thanks to everyone of you for travelling from near and far to attend today’s historic Heart of Asia Conference in Kabul. It is my sincere hope that your stay in Kabul is both fruitful and enjoyable and that you will take home with you a positive outcome for our deliberations here today and some nice memories from your visit. We are truly privildged to be able to bring together such an august company of leaders in a spirit of friendship, openness and cooperation to discuss the crucial need for sincere, result-oriented cooperation in this critical region, at this critical juncture.

I also wanted to reiterate the gratitude of the Afghan government to the Turkish government and to my brother Foreign Minister Davotuglu personally for Turkey’s leading role in the Istanbul Process and for an exemplary hosting of the Istanbul Conference for Afghanistan: Security and Cooperation in the Heart of Asia of November 2, 2011, the first conference in the Istanbul Process, an effort we regard with hope and a sense of renewed promise for a future of real peace, security, stability and prosperity in this region.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

A quick glance back at the past few months since our gathering in Istanbul makes it abundantly clear that this process has been more successful, more productive and enjoyed much stronger ownership and support by the participating countries than just about anybody expected, especially those outside our region. In our view, the Istanbul Process is one of the most meaningful, the most concrete and the most promising effort at realizing the vision of sincere, result-oriented cooperation among countries of the Heart of Asia region at least over the past one decade!

There are several characteristics to this unprecedented success of the Istanbul Process. I’ll enumrate only some of the more salient of these characteristics that we’ve observed over the past several months of preparations for today’s conference.

First, and as reflected by His Excellency President Karzai a few minutes ago, there is a more intimate, far greater and far clearer understanding of the intertwined nature of both the challenges and problems but also the great potential and opportunities in our region. It is today impossible to compartmentalize our notions of peace and security for our individual countries – to think, for example, that terrorist sanctuaries in one country or terrorist attacks in another country will not affect both the short- and long-term peace, security and stability of the entire region. It is also equally inconceivable to expect that we in Afghanistan will be able to single-handedly tackle the scourge of narcotics because there are key factors and actors beyond our borders that play a central role in the continued existence of this shared menace.

It is also evident that if allowed to unleash, this region’s truly tremendous potential in human and natural resources; trade, transit and investment; services and other fields can not only tranform the lives of the peoples of this region for the better but significantly contribute to security and prosperity in the broader world.

Second, the Istanbul Process fo far has made clear that if we can muster the will and the commitment, the countries in this region are more than capable of finding workable, consensus-driven solutions for the region’s common challenges and problems.


For the first time in ten years, we have agreed to a set of concrete confidence building measures that will take us from rhetoric to action. The seven confidence building measures proposed for adoption in this Conference’s final declaration – agreed to through several high-level preparatory meetings among senior officials from the Heart of Asia countries – cover such areas of cooperation as counter-terrorism, counter-narcotics, disaster management, strengthening links among national chambers of commerce, educational and cultural cooperation.

Third, there is strong consensus-driven support from all Heart of Asia countries for our collective decision to follow-up our deliberations and discsusions first in Istanbul and now here through regular consultations among our senior officials and at least once a year at the level of foreign ministers. This in our view is another clear demonstration of our real commitment to making tangible, concrete progress on the confidence building measures we’ve agreed to implement.

Fourth, just as there is strong consensus on the ownership of this process by the participating countries, there is broad and firm support among us for the role of the supporting countries and organizations, represented around this table. The high-level presence of the diverse group of supporters of the Istanbul Process today is a clear sign of the importance and significance of this effort. The presence of supporters underscores the interconnectedness of our world and how security and stability and development in one region, especially in the Heart of Asia region, directly affects security and development worldwide.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Another key element of the Istanbul Process is creating ever closer linkages, coordination and synergy in the Afghanistan-related efforts of regional organizations. Afghanistan is a member of most of these organizations. We believe each one of these organizations have a critical role to play and we’re very happy to have them on board. In this connection, let me reiterate the Afghan government’s satisfaction with our new status as observer country at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and underline our deep gratitude to all SCO member states for their support and welcome.

The participation of the United Nations has been a key pillar of the Istanbul Process.

We the participating countries are all members of the UN and I believe it’s role gives the process greater legitimacy and effectiveness. In particular, we are grateful for the contributions of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) so far, which have been significant and constructive.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Let me repeat myself one more time: we’re more hopeful and more optimistic about making tangible progress on regional cooperation with this Istanbul Process than any other effort so far over the past ten years. Any step we take towards implementing our shared vision within the Istanbul Process will not only be good for peace, security and stability in Afghanistan; real progress on regional cooperation is essential for peace and security in our region.

We in Afghanitan are also determined to reclaim our rightful place in this region – not as an issue, a topic or a problem. Rather, we want to play the role of a regional convenor, connector and mediator in improving confidence and cooperation in the Heart of Asia. We’ve been first in suffering the consequences of a lack of confidence and fragmentation in this region, which has in turn had a direct bearing on peace and security in the region. So, dear friends, Afghanistan’s sincere and real commitment to the Istanbul Process comes from self-interest that is tied to the interests of the region around us.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

We all realize that patience is a virture in this collective effort, especially in a region grappling with the legacy and present reality of some real challenges and problems. But we’ll be judged – and I think fairly so – by the steady, concrete progress of our work on taking this crucial process forward one step at a time. We will be watched and judeged by each other, by those supporting us and others. It is, therefore, our fervent hope that we’ll all maintain the perserverance, patience but also farsightedness in moving this process forward.

I thank you all very much for your attention and wish us all a successful conference!






Statement of H.E. Mr. Jawed Ludin Deputy Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan At the United Nations Security Council Debate On The Situation in Afghanistan

Mr. President,

Under-Secretary General Ladsous,



It is an honour to have the opportunity to address the Security Council of the United Nations for the first time.  I convey the gratitude of the Afghan people to all Council members, and the countries you represent, for your commitment to a peaceful Afghanistan, and for maintaining a focus on the evolving situation in my country.


Under-Secretary General Ladsous, thank you for your useful and comprehensive briefing and for spending an extended period of time in Afghanistan on your recent visit.  It was a pleasure to join you and Mr. Heitmann in Kabul for the launch of the UNAMA mandate review’s team visit.


Mr. President,


2011 has been a year of significant milestones for Afghanistan and we Afghans are proud to have been successful in most of the steps we have taken in partnership with the international community.  Of course, as in the years before, every bit of our achievements has come at a price.  Terrorism remains a strong threat, and Afghans have continued to pay huge sacrifices for the vision of a peaceful, prosperous and democratic Afghanistan. However, no threat or demand for sacrifice will deter us from achieving our vision, and we truly appreciate the crucial help of our international friends and partners in this historic struggle.


Mr. President,


Having always aspired to achieve self-reliance, this past year we finally took the crucial step of beginning the Transition process, which will see Afghanistan’s national security forces take full responsibility for security in the country by end of 2014. With the implementation of the second tranche of transition, announced last month by His Excellency President Hamid Karzai, Afghan forces are taking charge of security for over fifty percent of the country’s population.


Allow me to emphasise that, for us Afghans, Transition is not an imposed deadline, or a mere operational benchmark.  Transition is truly the manifestation of our determination to succeed, and to stand on our own feet. It is the guiding framework for all our efforts and, in a fundamental sense, it is the ultimate goal of the partnership we Afghans have had with the international community for the past ten years.


Transition, however, is not just about security.  As we move to take full responsibility for defending our country and securing the lives of our people, we are also assuming greater ownership of affairs on the civilian front, including the political process and the development agenda.  Therefore, to make transition meaningful, alongside building up the capacity of our security forces, we are redoubling our efforts to take the peace process forward, improve governance, fight corruption and build the requisite capacities of our government institutions to carry out their sovereign functions effectively and transparently.


Mr. President,


Speaking of the political solution, I wish to reassure the Council that the Afghan Government remains committed to the Afghan-led peace effort that is aimed at reconciling members of the armed opposition and bringing them to peaceful lives in the society.  You are aware that our peace efforts have, in recent months, faced a number of setbacks, notably the tragic assassination of Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani, former president and head of the High Peace Council. Nonetheless, at the consultative Loya Jirga last month in Kabul, the Afghan people unanimously reaffirmed the peace process, giving it a renewed impetus. The national gathering conveyed the Afghan people’s desire for the continuation of an inclusive Afghan-led national reconciliation and reintegration process.


Through the peace process, we will continue to reach out to the armed opposition, and reconcile those willing to renounce violence, break ties with terrorist organisations, and live peaceful lives under the Constitution.  We believe the process may benefit from the establishment of an office, within or outside Afghanistan, whereby formal talks between relevant Afghan authorities and representatives of armed opposition, including the Taliban, could be facilitated.  Furthermore, we will continue to rely on support from regional countries, in particular the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, without whose support, our peace efforts will not bear the desired results.


Mr. President,


The role of the region surrounding Afghanistan remains central to the peaceful and prosperous future we Afghans envision for our country.  The threats we share in common, including the menaces of terrorism, narcotics and so on, will not be defeated, nor will peace in Afghanistan ever be achieved, in the absence of constructive, result-oriented cooperation at the regional level. Therefore, over the past ten years, we in Afghanistan have put regional cooperation at the heart of our vision for the future, and we will continue to do so in the future.


Thanks to the leadership of the brotherly Republic of Turkey, the ‘Istanbul Conference for Afghanistan: Security and Cooperation in the Heart of Asia’, held in early November in Istanbul, was one visionary step forward towards cooperation and confidence building across the region. We are both hopeful and optimistic that the Istanbul Process will help bring about a new regional environment – one that is characterized by cooperation, integration, confidence, and a shared effort for achieving security and prosperity. This vision has eluded us for far too long.  We will follow up the Istanbul Conference with another Ministerial Level conference to be held in Kabul in June 2012, the preparation of which has already begun in earnest.


Mr. President,


As the partnership between Afghanistan and the international community evolves through and after the Transition phase, Afghans need the reassurance that our friends from the region and beyond will continue to support our progress towards peace, stability, prosperity and democracy. Thankfully, this assurance was given, in very strong terms, two weeks ago in Germany, where over a hundred countries and international organisations gathered for the ‘International Afghanistan Conference in Bonn’. I wish to express our sincere appreciation to Germany, Afghanistan’s longstanding friend and partner, for hosting this historic conference.


The true significance of the Bonn Conference was in reflecting a crucial consensus that exists internationally for supporting a peaceful, sovereign and prosperous future for Afghanistan. This consensus was expressed in a strong language of support and commitment, particularly in setting out the concept of the Transformation Decade of 2015-2025 as a solid basis for the international community’s enduring engagement and support beyond Transition.


The Conference also reaffirmed the Kabul Process as the framework for international community’s cooperation with Afghanistan as we continue to transform our country out of a war-dependent economy towards self-reliance.  In this context, we look forward to the Tokyo Conference in July next year as an opportunity to focus on Afghanistan’s future economic agenda.  I thank our Japanese friends for their friendship and for organizing this crucial conference.


Mr. President,


If the Bonn conference was the demonstration of a consensus at the international level, the consultative Loya Jirga organized on 16 to 19 November in Kabul was its mirror image within Afghanistan, reflecting the unanimity among the Afghan people for partnership and engagement with the international community.  Over two thousand Afghan representatives from all segments of society and all corners of the country came together and, in a historic manifestation of democratic will, gave a resounding affirmation to the Afghan government’s efforts to forge long-term, strategic partnerships with the United States and other countries from within and outside the region.


In this context, we have proudly finalized a strategic partnership agreement with our old, historic friend, the Republic of India, and are in the process of negotiating similar agreements with our other friends and partners, based on the principles of mutual respect and the fundamental equality of sovereign nations.  These partnerships will be the building blocks of Afghanistan’s future relations with the international community. They cannot, and will not, represent a threat to any other country in the region or beyond.



Mr. President,

As we move forward, the role of the UN will remain crucial to Afghanistan’s partnership with the international community. We expect that the ongoing review of the UNAMA’s mandate will produce a more coherent and responsive UN role in Afghanistan and, in this context, welcome the recent visit of the review team to Afghanistan. I look forward to a continued dialogue between Afghanistan, both at the Kabul level and in New York, and the United Nations towards the review, which should reinforce the principles of Afghan ownership and leadership through transition and beyond.


Speaking about the UN, may I request Under Secretary General Ladsous that you convey my, and the Afghan people’s, gratitude and deep appreciation to Mr. Steffan De Mistura for his dedicated service and excellent leadership of the UN in Afghanistan.  I personally have enjoyed working with him, and I wish him every success in his future endeavours.  May I also take the opportunity to congratulate Mr. Jan Kubis on his appointment as the new SRSG.  Mr. Kubis’s distinguished career, and the trust invested in him by the Secretary General, assures us of a continued effective leadership of the United Nations in Afghanistan.


Mr. President,


As we meet today, at the end of the tenth year of what has been a truly historic collaboration between the Afghan people and the international community, allow me to reaffirm Afghanistan’s unwavering determination to achieve a peaceful, prosperous and democratic future in close partnership with the world.  Of course, we have had tremendous achievements together, and we are all aware of the challenges on the way ahead and the imperatives for continued commitment and cooperation.


Today, with the tremendous success of the Bonn Conference fresh on our minds, I am here to express appreciation for the international community’s recommitment to Afghanistan’s future, as expressed in Bonn earlier this month. I also thank this august Council for standing behind the Conference conclusions. As Afghanistan moves from Transition to the Transformation Decade, this Council’s guidance, and the international community’s commitment remains as crucial for our future as ever before.  Thank You!

Statement By H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan At The NATO-ISAF Foreign Ministers Meeting

 Brussels, December 8, 2011

 Secretary General Rasmussen,

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,


I thank you Secretary General Rasmussen for your initiative and for your leadership in driving NATO’s critical mission in Afghanistan.  I wish you good health and a speedy recovery.


It is a privilege to be here among Afghanistan’s friends and partners, who have done so much for the cause of peace, stability and democracy in Afghanistan over the past decade.


Dear Colleagues,

A decade ago we jointly started our journey to fight terrorism and make the world a safer place for all of us. We have come a long way in this shared journey.


We are grateful to you all, our NATO partners, for helping us recover from decades of destruction.  With your help, we have had history-making achievements in Afghanistan, something we can all be deservedly proud of. Let me just say that we wouldn’t be where we are today without the selfless sacrifices of your soldiers, the hard work of your diplomats and development officials, and your generous assistance to the reconstruction of Afghanistan. We look forward to broadening and deepening our cooperation and partnership with NATO.


Just three days ago in Bonn, we adopted a blueprint for broadening and deepening our partnership with the International Community during Afghanistan’s 2015-2024 Transformation Decade. This is a partnership based on mutual commitments: the assumption of increasing responsibilities and implementation of reforms, including anti-corruption measures, by the Afghan government, and, on the part of the international community, a credible, strong long-term commitment of support and assistance to Afghanistan for at least a decade beyond Transition. I would like to take the opportunity here to thank Germany and especially Foreign Minister Westerwelle for Germany’s unparalleled arrangements for this conference.


Since the Kabul Conference, the Government of Afghanistan has taken specific measures to improve governance, fight corruption and improve the delivery of basic services to the population. To help enhance the capacity of government institutions, and increase public confidence, we need our partners’ cooperation in phasing out all structures that undermine the authority of the government or duplicate the functions of Afghan state institutions.


The Bonn Conference outcome also gives us several follow-up steps to translate our mutual commitments into concrete actions – an economic conference in Tokyo next July, a regional cooperation follow-up ministerial conference in Kabul in June, a regional economic cooperation conference on Afghanistan in Tajikistan, and, of course, the NATO Chicago Summit next May. Among other things, in Chicago we hope to discuss plans for the long-term training, equipping and sustainability of our national security forces with our NATO allies. So we look forward to working with you in the months ahead to define our plans to those ends.


At the same time, the finalization of the NATO Strategic Plan on Afghanistan paves the way for our effective and long-term partnership beyond 2014.


Dear Colleagues,

The successful first phase of Transition this past summer was a milestone for us. The second phase, announced last week, will put Afghan soldiers and police officers in charge of the security of nearly fifty percent of the Afghan population.


The Transition agenda overall is undoubtedly ambitious. Its full and irreversible success will continue to require a comprehensive and responsible approach, and extraordinary effort from both Afghans and our partners in the international community to succeed.


We must strengthen our efforts to bolster the quality and capabilities of Afghan national security institutions in all areas so that they become a more confident, professional, effective, and self-reliant force.


Afghanistan is committed to fighting terrorism, as well as illicit drugs, which finances terrorism and criminalizes our economy. As we continue the fight against international terrorism in our region, we need to pay particular attention to two crucial issues. First, we must realize that terrorism primarily comes from safe-havens beyond our borders, where terrorists find sanctuary, training, logistical support, and strategic guidance for attacks against Afghan and international forces, and civilian targets. Unless we deal with this regional dimension of the international terrorist threat, our gains in Afghanistan, and global peace and security will always be in jeopardy. Two, we need to maintain our utmost focus on protecting Afghan civilians. In this specific regard, I welcome and appreciate General Allen’s recent guidance to ISAF forces on protecting civilians. Our attention to avoiding civilian casualties is already shifting the popular narrative in Afghanistan against the terrorists who have no regard for innocent civilians, as so grotesquely and cowardly illustrated by the terrorist attacks in Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif, Kandahar and Helmand over the past three days.


Transition is interlinked with the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process, something that remains the surest path to a dignified, inclusive and durable peace for all Afghans. Despite continued attacks and the assassination of Professor Rabbani, head of the High Peace Council, the Afghan people want the peace process to continue. And it will. The recent Traditional Loya Jirga in Kabul, which brought together more than 2,200 representatives from across the country expressed their full support to the peace process.


In the area of economic cooperation, we would like to work closely with the international community to shift development efforts toward supporting major infrastructure projects and creating real employment for the Afghan people, particularly in the agriculture, energy, mining, and education sectors.


Regional cooperation remains crucial to the vision of stability and progress in Afghanistan. Through a number of initiatives, Afghanistan is reclaiming our historic role as a trade, transport and connectivity hub, and most importantly, as a catalyst for wider cooperation in the ‘Heart of Asia’ region. The Istanbul Process launched last month on a promising path of taking concrete steps towards confidence building and cooperation in our region.


Parallel to our sincere efforts to increase and strengthen meaningful regional cooperation to the benefit of all countries in the region, we are working with our key allies and partners in the international community on signing long-term strategic partnerships. This is something the people of Afghanistan are firmly behind; they expressed as much through their resounding endorsement of a long-term strategic partnership with the United States of America at the recent loya jirga in Kabul. The Afghan government attaches utmost importance and value to this partnership that will be built on the existing strong foundations of friendship, cooperation and shared sacrifices our two nations have borne in the fight against terrorism and in the struggle for a peaceful, secure, democratic Afghanistan.


In addition to the strategic partnership we signed with India in October, we are also signing or negotiating long-term, strategic partnerships with other partners and allies, including the United Kingdom, the European Union, France, Australia, Italy and Germany. All of these partnerships will help us preserve and consolidate our gains, and ensure that Afghanistan never again falls victim to the sort of terrorism and disorder that will harm us, the rest of the region and the wider world.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Afghanistan is entering a new phase of partnership with the international community, including NATO, as a sovereign, independent country. With the Transition process now in full momentum, we are at a critical stage in Afghanistan’s recovery, stabilization and development. As we pursue the full success of the Transition process, pursue the reforms we know are necessary, including the fight against corruption, and enter our country’s Decade of Transformation, we will continue to rely on your steadfast, long-term support, friendship and assistance.


Thank you.


Permanent Mission of Afghanistan