Saturday, June 24, 2017

General Assembly debate on agenda item 38 “The Situation in Afghanistan”

Statement by H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin

Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

at the General Assembly debate on

agenda item 38 “The Situation in Afghanistan”

Mr. President,

Once more in this august hall, we are discussing the situation in Afghanistan: the cycle of suffering, the immensity of new challenges, and certainly the progress we have made thus far. For the past decade, the world has been extensively engaged in Afghanistan, in our ongoing struggle for peace and stability. We come together today, to adopt a resolution which will affirm, again, the support of the international community for ending a continued crisis that has long shaken the world and also our commitment to helping the Afghan people in their difficult struggle to finally arrive at peace and stability.

I thank all who have contributed to shaping the resolution, in particular, the German delegation headed by H. E. Ambassador Peter Wittig for their leadership and hard work throughout the process. We are especially appreciative of Mr. Elmar Eich for his role in facilitating the negotiations.

Mr. President,

We are leaving behind another year of national trauma: violence has, regrettably, remained a constant in the lives of many Afghans, resulting in significant loss of life. We have seen indiscriminate attacks on innocent civilians, targeted assassinations and the attempt to shatter what we have worked so hard to build. In fact, the terrorist attacks are aimed at breaking our determination, and attempting to undermine our national unity and historical integrity.

Afghans have been the prime victims of terrorism, but we are not alone; it is also our friends and partners that are hurt and losing their lives alongside our people. As the threat of terrorism originating from our region became global in character, the international community intervened to stop it. But we have not yet succeeded in ending the threat. The Taliban, who hijacked Afghanistan for years, hid their heads for some time, and are now reappearing with a barbaric and brutal face. Resuscitated by the continued existence of safe-havens in the region, they continue to hold Afghanistan hostage, killing our people, destroying the country, and threatening our gains, freedom and way of life.

Despite the recent increase in violent activities, the Afghan people are determined to continue their progress. And, fragile as the country may seem, substantial improvements have been made over the last decade. Afghanistan has risen from the ashes of a state disintegrated by decades of conflict, and millions of Afghans have rebuilt their lives and are moving forward. Thousands of new schools and universities have been built, with millions of enrolled students, nearly half of which are female. Hundreds of clinics and hospitals have been established and thousands of doctors and nurses trained. New roads have been constructed, benefitting travel within Afghanistan and enhancing partnerships and trade with those in our region and beyond. Our achievements are not only economic and social; good and democratic governance is being extended to areas where previously there was none. The rule of law is being strengthened; and we are working to rid our society of the cancer of corruption. With wider participation in political and social life, and a greater focus on human rights, including women’s rights, Afghanistan is becoming a home for all.

Not far from the burning memories of the bloody and destructive power-struggles of the 1990s, we drafted our new constitution, held two Presidential and two parliamentary elections, and now have our national and local administrations in place. These achievements have helped Afghanistan regain its legitimate place on the world stage, as a responsible member of the international community.

But, Mr. President,

This progress has not been easy – it is a constant struggle. Terrorism remains the main threat, exacerbating all other challenges. The terrorists and their insolent supporters continue to destroy the country and prevent us from living in peace and prosperity. Afghanistan’s enemies wanted to convince the world that success is not possible and all efforts are doomed to fail. But they must understand we are not in the Afghanistan of the 1990s – terrorist acts undermine our daily work, but will not force us back to where we were a decade ago.

Mr. President,

As we begin a new decade of international involvement in Afghanistan, ten years into the post-Taliban era, we are confronted with many questions: Where do we go from here? More specifically, how can Afghans stand on their own feet and maintain a stable society through the transition process as international forces continue their withdrawal?

Mr. President,

This year marked the historic start of the transition process, by which Afghans will assume full responsibility, ownership and leadership. Transition is about transforming the country from one suffering from violence and instability to a fully functioning state and a viable society. A comprehensive transition includes these six interlinked issues:

First is security. Security transition is on track. We are working with our international partners to assume full responsibility in all provinces by 2014 or possibly earlier. The gradual draw-down of international forces through 2014 is strongly linked to the training and equipping of Afghan forces and an ongoing strategic partnership over the next decade or more. While the numbers, capabilities, and self-confidence of the Afghan National Security Forces are growing, transition is not happening in a vacuum; continued international engagement through recruiting, training, and equipping Afghan forces will be essential through transition and beyond.

Second is good governance and rule of law. Building a better future for Afghanistan will require a stable, functioning and clean Government that is capable of turning opportunities into successes. Actions such as the release of the National Priority Programme on Law and Justice, which outlines the justice sector reform strategy for the next three years, highlight the important focus of strengthening rule of law in all provinces and districts. For transition to be successful the Government of Afghanistan must, and will, continue to enhance its efforts in improving services to the Afghan people, strengthening justice and rule of law, and fighting against corruption at all levels.

Third is social and economic development. Afghanistan is on its way to a sustainable, drug-free, and fully functional economy. Over the last year we have been finalising our national priority programs within the framework of the Afghanistan National Development Strategy. Agricultural development is the top priority, along with increasing investment in Afghanistan’s rich mineral resources and rebuilding infrastructure. Social development is reflected as well, for instance in the ten-year National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan, and a continuing focus on education and health. These programs will effectively address poverty and inequality, efficiently and without duplication of efforts. We urge the international community to ensure that the provision of development aid is transparent, accountable, and coordinated with Afghanistan’s priorities.

Fourth is reconciliation and reintegration. Transition is interlinked with the peace process, which can help put an end to violence and insecurity. This year, the peace process saw both significant steps forward and a major setback, with the assassination of Professor Rabbani, head of the High Peace Council. However, despite all attacks, the Afghan people want the peace process to continue. This is just what the Loya Jirga, the traditional grand assembly, which ended this weekend in Kabul, calls for. The Loya Jirga brought together 2,200 representatives, Afghans from all ethnic groups, North and South, East and West, and from all segments of society – parliamentarians, politicians, tribal elders, scholars and Afghan refugees – to discuss the peace process and the strategic partnership agreement with the United States. It was an inclusive process, which will inform the Government’s position and ensure a unified Afghan voice. It marked a significant step in the peace and reconciliation process and was a clear display of the will of Afghans, reaffirming that Afghanistan is ready to accept and build on a strategic alliance with United Sates as well as other real friends and partners.

Fifth is regional cooperation: Through a number of initiatives, Afghanistan is re-claiming our historic role as a trade, transport and economic hub and most importantly as a catalyst for wider collaboration in the ‘Heart of Asia’. Earlier this month, we saw the successful conclusion of the Istanbul Conference, generously hosted by our brother country, Turkey. Afghanistan sees the Istanbul Process as a new beginning for comprehensive regional inter-connectedness. We look forward to the first follow-up Ministerial Meeting in Kabul next June.

Before Istanbul we saw the finalisation and implementation of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement, after decades of negotiations. This agreement is a tremendous and historic step forward. In September, thirty high-level delegations from the region and beyond convened here in New York to endorse the New Silk Road Initiative. We believe that this vision holds a real promise of attracting greater investment and trade and will provide economic opportunities for all countries in our wider region.

Security is the basis of regional cooperation, aimed at achieving regional and international peace and stability. The threat of terrorism comes from the region – in safe-havens beyond our borders, terrorists find sanctuary, training, broadened logistical support, and strategic guidance for preparing renewed attacks against Afghanistan and the international community. Unless the scourge of terrorism is eliminated, all our efforts – for economic development, for social and political progress – will be in vain.

That brings us to the sixth element of transition: strategic partnerships. We are now finalizing the Strategic Partnership Document, which will involve US support in training and assisting Afghan forces through 2014 and beyond. We have also signed a strategic partnership agreement with India, and negotiations for similar arrangements are under way with the UK, France, Australia, and the European Union. The basis for long-term partnership has also been established with NATO. These partnerships will continue to build on and redefine the ties we have formed with the international community, to guarantee the future success of the country.

In December, the Afghan leadership will come together with the international community in Bonn, Germany in order to assess progress and map out a long-term commitment for peace and security in Afghanistan. The Bonn conference will mark a new beginning at the start of a new decade of the international community’s partnership with Afghanistan. We thank Germany for their efforts and leadership in hosting what will no doubt become a milestone in our history.

Mr. President,

For Afghanistan, 2014 is not a solid endpoint set in stone. Instead it stands as a way marker for a new phase of the partnership between Afghanistan and the international community, with Afghanistan as a fully sovereign partner. We need to be realistic in understanding why the peace and prosperity of Afghanistan is important in an increasingly inter-connected world and a strategically crucial region. A successful transition, which addresses the six interwoven elements I outlined today, will lead us to a stable, reliable Afghanistan partnering in a mutually beneficial way with the international community.

Mr. President,

Often, we are presented with a grim picture of Afghanistan, one of disappointment and disengagement. Such scenarios raise doubts about the possibility of a successful transition in Afghanistan. But we Afghans and the international community have agreed on a different vision. We have a plan for a successful transition, with all elements and all partners acting in harmonious accord. We believe that with the support and goodwill of the Afghan people and the international community, it will succeed.

All of us are not here simply to see how the situation in Afghanistan will unfold, but to shape it and craft future history. We have a responsibility to act for success; we cannot simply sit back and wait in fear of failure in Afghanistan, though there are some out there who prefer to do so. Let us not insult the future, as it is said – instead, on the basis of the real progress of the past decade, let us stick to making a successful present day.

Thank you.

Opening Remarks by H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul Minister of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan at the Istanbul Conference for Afghanistan:

Opening Remarks by H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan

At the

Istanbul Conference for Afghanistan:

Security and Cooperation in the Heart of Asia

2 November 2011

Excellencies

Distinguished Colleagues,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear brother Foreign Minister Davutoglu, please accept my sincerest condolences for last week’s tragic earthquake in the Province of Van that took so many lives and inflicted huge losses. We pray for a quick recovery for all those affected.

It’s a great pleasure to join you here today in welcoming our colleagues and friends from countries with whom we share our region. I wish to express heartfelt appreciations to the Government of Turkey for hosting today’s Conference for Afghanistan which focuses on “Security and Cooperation in the Heart of Asia”. Your personal efforts, Foreign Minister Davutoglu, have been crucial in shaping this important regional gathering for which I am immensely and genuinely grateful.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As mentioned in remarks by both His Excellency President Gul and His Excellency President Karzai, today’s gathering presents an important opportunity; an opportunity to broaden the horizons of regional cooperation for our mutual benefit.  We owe it to our peoples and their future to cooperate with each other so we can realize our true potentials and our children can enjoy a safer, more prosperous life.

Recognising how crucial regional cooperation is, it is a responsibility – a collective responsibility – we all have to do what we can in order to bring about an environment that is free from the perils of terrorism, extremism, narcotics, organized crime – these are the examples of the kind of common and real challenges we face as a region today.

Dear Colleagues,

You heard His Excellency President Karzai this morning describing the challenges that our country is facing today.  Indeed, over the past ten years, we have come a long way in making lives better for the Afghan people.  However, significant threats and challenges remain.  The region that surrounds Afghanistan has been a great supporter in our efforts, and remains a huge factor in our ability to overcome the challenges that remain.

Therefore, over the past decade, the Government of Afghanistan has put the task of building regional confidence and cooperation at the centre of our vision for a stable and prosperous Afghanistan.  The Kabul Declaration on Good-Neighbourly Relations of 22 December 2002 laid the foundations of Afghanistan’s new relationship in the region – a relationship that is based on respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity, peaceful co-existence, refraining from interference and respect for international law.

Over the past ten years, we have actively engaged in all regional organisations which have a role to play in strengthening regional cooperation in various fields – from our active participation in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) – which we are hoping to join as an observer country in the near future – to other regional organisations that deal with furthering cooperation in economic and other field, such as the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC).

There have been specific regional initiatives to help Afghanistan, such as the   Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA), which we value and are committed to maintain.  We are committed to exploring new and effective ideas that could be translated into workable strategies in the interest of regional economic integration.  In this respect, we welcome the New Silk Road initiative and look forward to a fruitful dialogue with our neighbours and regional partners.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Our gathering in Istanbul is a recognition that, building on our progress of the past ten years in terms of strengthening regional cooperation, we must take bolder and stronger steps in order to make regional cooperation more effective. As far as Afghanistan is concerned, we view the Istanbul Conference as one of the most important opportunities for Afghanistan and our regional partners to reaffirm our mutual commitments to cooperation, and chart a way forward for building greater confidence and understanding across the region.

Together with our friends and supporters from outside this region, our gathering today is taking place in a unique format – the Heart of Asia – which brings together all the major countries of the wider region surrounding Afghanistan, from South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East.   Given the increasing interdependence and commonality of interests and concerns across the wider region, it is important to broaden the geographical, as well as substantive, focus of our cooperation at the regional level.

Excellencies,

The Afghan Government aims for the Istanbul Conference to be a successful turning point with a tangible outcome that helps build a common regional vision for peace and stability.  The Conference will be a significant milestone to recognize Afghanistan’s long quest and desire for stability, as well as the region’s growing need for confidence building and cooperation against the common challenges we face, notably terrorism, extremism, the drug trade, and obstacles to legitimate interaction and movement, to name but a few.

I am satisfied with the huge amount of intensive preparatory work that has gone into making this Conference a success.  Indeed, it has been a truly participatory process where the views and concerns of all the neighbours and fellow regional countries have been taken into account.  From the various preparatory meetings, including Dubai, Oslo and Kabul, to the visits by Afghan and Turkish officials to major capitals of the region, this has been a very meaningful dialogue.

I thank the Republic of Turkey again for the leadership role they have in strengthening regional cooperation and, in particular, in making this important conference the turning point it should be.  We Afghans are honoured and blessed to have a friend like Turkey.

I also express deep gratitude and appreciation to Afghanistan’s other neighbours and near neighbours for supporting the vision of regional cooperation, and for taking an active part in this process.  Your presence here today is not only a testimony to your friendship and solidarity with Afghanistan, but also your commitment to strengthening and deepening cooperation at the regional level.

May I also thank all the supporter countries who are so strongly represented here today.  Indeed, without support and solidarity from friends and partners from outside the region, our region will not be able to make the vision of regional cooperation and integration a reality.  In particular, I wish to say a sincere thank you to the Kingdom of Norway for being a great friend and supporter of regional cooperation in the Heart of Asia.  In particular, the role that Norway played in facilitating dialogue in the run up to this conference is highly appreciated.

The role of the United Nations has been extremely useful.  We are all members of the UN and, as such, the role of this global entity is one major common bond that ties us across the region.  In particular, the contributions from the Secretary General’s Special Representative to Afghanistan, Ambassador Staffan de Mistura, have been substantial and commendable.

Dear Colleagues,

For regional cooperation to be meaningful, it must deliver results.  For all the goodwill and desire that exist across our region for strengthening regional cooperation, the progress we are making in tackling our common challenges is relatively modest.  Therefore, today’s conference must be the beginning of a process that involves tangible steps and credible results.  I appeal to Afghanistan’s neighbours and fellow regional countries to rally behind the Istanbul Undertaking we are hoping to adopt today.

In conclusion, I thank all of Afghanistan’s partners in the international community, its neighbours and partners in this Heart of Asia region for your continued support and solidarity with Afghanistan.  In particular, I thank you all for attending this historical conference and contributing to its success.

Thank you for your attention and I invite you far an active participation in today’s meeting.

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

Statement of H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Land Locked Developing Countries

Meeting of Foreign Ministers Delivered by Mr. Daud Yaar


Mr. Chairman,

At the outset let me express my sincere appreciation to Paraguay for its successful leadership of the Group of Land Locked Developing Countries (LLDCs).

Mr. Chairman,

The landlocked developing countries are commonly among the poorest of the developing countries and 16 of us, including my own country are classified as least developed countries with the weakest growth rates, and critically dependent on a very limited number of commodities for our export income.

There is a clear connection between distance and the transport costs. High transport costs affect the competitiveness margin of landlocked developing countries and trade volume.

Lack of territorial access to the sea, distance and isolation from world markets and high transit costs continue to impose serious constraints on the overall socio-economic development of our countries. In addition to numerous global crises, such as widespread poverty, climate change, financial and economic crises, the threat of terrorism, volatile energy prices and food shortages are among many challenges which developing countries, particularly land locked developing countries are facing.

Mr. Chairman,

Afghanistan’s export and import have been adversely affected by long distance, difficult terrain, bad condition of roads, non-existence of railway system in the country, volatile security, threat of terrorism and relations with neighbouring countries and inefficiency of transit transport.  As well our export and import depend on transit through other countries. Additional border crossings and long distance from the market considerably increase our total expenses for the transport services. Not only the above challenges, but also sensitive relation with neighbouring countries all the time impose extra pressure and cost on our poor economy. Afghanistan is a commodity exporter country. We pay almost two times more of our export earnings for the payment of transport and insurance services. All of these challenges have had enormous harmful effects on the implementation and realization of our MDGs.

The three decades of war has enormously damaged our economy and our political and social infrastructure, including our roads and transport system. During the past 10 years we managed to built and rehabilitate much of our roads and transport system, however, for adequate development and maintenance of transport infrastructure, establishing a better transit transport system and enhanced technical assistance, capacity building for the formulation of trade policies, investment into infrastructure for transport, communication and etc. we need much support of our development partners and regional cooperation.

Afghanistan fully supports the commitment  of the landlocked countries to accelerate the implementation of Almaty Programme of Action through effective and genuine partnerships between landlocked and transit countries and their development partners as well as between public and private sector  at national , regional and global level.

Mr. Chairman,

In conclusion, I reiterate our commitment to work closely with you all to advance our common interests.

I thank you.

Permanent Mission of Afghanistan