Friday, June 22, 2018

UN Seminar on Assistance to the Palestinian People in Cairo

7 February 2012 - H.E. Mr. Zahir Tanin, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations, is currently attending the UN Seminar on Assistance to the Palestinian People being held in Cairo in his capacity as a Vice President of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. During the seminar in Egypt, the members of the Committee’s bureau including Ambassador Tanin met with Mohammed Amr, the Egyptian Foreign Minister, and the Secretary-General of the Arab League, Nabil el-Araby.

The seminar, held on February 6th and 7th at the Sofitel Cairo El Gezirah, will focus on the impact of Israeli policies on the socio-economic situation in the West Bank, the socio-economic impact of the blockade of the Gaza Strip, and on ways in which the Palestinians and the international community can offset the cost of the occupation while preparing for independence, sovereignty and sustainable development.

On the opening session of the seminar which chaired by the H.E Abdusalam Daw the Permanent Representative of Senegal and the Chairman of the Committee, Mr. Maxwell Gaylard, the Deputy Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and United Nations Coordinator for Humanitarian and Development Activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, delivered a statement on behalf of Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, in which he stated that the Secretary-General, during his recent visit to the Occupied Territories, “clearly saw the high economic cost of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory” and that he believes that “a two-State solution is long overdue”.

Ambassador Tanin chaired the first plenary of the seminar in the second day which focused on the economic situation in the occupied territories. The Seminar which was considered an important step towards assessing the current state of assistance to Palestinian people ended today.


A New Deal for Enhancing State-building and Governance in Fragile States:A Discussion organized by UNDP and International Peace Institute (IPI)

On January 12, 2012, over 40 senior-level policymakers from member states, think tanks, NGOs and other organizations participated in the event “Enhancing State-building and Governance in Fragile States: From Policy to Practice”, hosted by UNDPand the International Peace Institute (IPI). The event, focusing on a new approach or “New Deal” for helping fragile states transition to greater stability and prosperity, aimed to determine how this “New Deal” could be translated into real changes on the ground and invited the participants to add to this endeavor by sharing their experiences with state-building and highlighting the challenges they foresaw with regard to the New Deal.

The event opened with a welcome by IPI’s director of research, Mr. Francesco Mancini. The first session, entitled “The New Deal for Engagement with Fragile States,” was chaired by Mr. Jordan Ryan, Assistant Administrator and Director of UNDP’s Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, and included remarks by H.E. Ambassador Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations as well as Dr. Sarah Cliffe, Special Adviser and Assistant Secretary-General of Civilian Capacities to the United Nations.

Ambassador Tanin began his remarks by recognizing the recent efforts of the g7+, a groupof 19 fragile and conflict affected states which aims to support the transition of fragilestates. The g7+ came together with donor countries and international organizations to form the “International Dialogue.” In Busan, South Korea on 30 November 2011, the Dialogue presented the vision of the New Deal, which has to date been endorsed by 32 countries and 5 organizations. Ambassador Tanin, hailing the g7+ as a “unified voice” for fragile states, focused on the emergence of its New Deal and the challenges that lie ahead.

The Ambassador argued that “the New Deal is an evolution of ideas, based on hard lessons learned” and that “the individual challenges and aspirations of many fragile and conflict-affected nations helped shape the elements of the New Deal and influenced its three pillars”. These pillars, consisting of the use of the Peacebuilding and Statebuilding Goals (PSGs) as a foundation, a focus on supporting inclusive country-led and country-owned transition out of fragility, and the establishment of trust by providing aid and managing resources more effectively, he said, will hopefully foster “inclusive political settlements, ensur[e] security, promot[e] justice, develop economic foundation and build capacity for accountable and fair service delivery”.

Still, the New Deal must face the challenges of the past since, as Ambassador Tanin suggests, it is “influenced by both the successes and failures of past stabilization efforts”. The creators of the New Deal were aware of this as they aimed to draft a plan that will make statebuilding and capacity building processes more devoted to the specific needs of a certain fragile state, hoping that this will lead to a more effective tackling of the challenges a country faces.

The Ambassador also emphasized that organizations must avoid the threat of dependency when helping fragile states to transition. For even though international assistance is crucial in terms of helping fragile states such as Afghanistan achieve stability, a preponderance of this aid can be counterproductive as it decreases the relative power of the national government. For this reason, any capacity-building and state-building process must, according to Ambassador Tanin, keep in mind the “needs of the transition”.

In conclusion, the Ambassador noted that the success of the fragile states “requires a constant commitment for a responsible national leadership by the fragile countries and an enduring partnership and honored promises by developing partners” and commended the members of the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding for having committed themselves to this responsibility.

Remarks by H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan at Ataturk Symposium


Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, and friends,

It is my honour to be here as a part of this symposium, celebrating Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. I would like to thank my respected friend Ambassador Apakan and the Turkish Mission for their coordination of  the Third Annual Atatürk Symposium to remind us of the legacy of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and reflect on his long-lasting impact. I am pleased to join my esteemed UN colleagues, Ambassador Gary Quinlan of Australia and their close neighbours Ambassador Jim McLay of New Zealand to make opening remarks for our knowledgeable speakers, Professors Ludwig and McCarthy and Dr. Bay.

I have a particular reason for being here. For us in Afghanistan, our journey toward modernisation in the early 20th century is closely linked with that of Turkey, and to the ideas and aspirations of the Young Turks and Kemal Atatürk.

With the gradual crumbling of the Ottoman Empire on the eve of the First World War, the Young Turks emerged as a major force within the empire. They profoundly influenced the thoughts of nationalist and modernist forces throughout the Muslim world. In Afghanistan, a progressive elite felt a close ideological kinship with the Young Turks, with particular influential elements in the Afghan ruling class seeing Turkey as a source of inspiration. Among them was Mahmud Tarzi, father-in-law of Afghanistan’s next king, who had lived in the Ottoman Empire – in Syria – for a long time,  and was known as the founder of modern nationalist ideology in Afghanistan. It was mainly through him that the influence of the Young Turks’ and later, Kemal Atatürk’s thinking came.

In 1919, the new King,  Amanullah Khan, ascended to the throne of Afghanistan. Influenced by the widely felt progressive aspirations of the time, mainly through Mahmud Tarzi and other members of a political movement of the time, the ‘Young Afghans’, he was a modernist, nationalist king, deeply committed to progress and change . The new King engaged in a historic struggle and managed to lead Afghanistan to full independence from Britain at the start of his reign. With Afghanistan’s independence, King Amanullah devoted himself to securing Afghanistan’s future. Like Kemal Atatürk, the King saw modernisation as the way forward, and to him this meant westernisation.

However, King Amanullah’s success in achieving independence made him a hero and rallying point for anti-colonial, nationalist and pan-Islamic movements across the Muslim world, particularly in Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent. But with Soviet Russia to the north and British India to the south, Afghanistan’s geopolitical situation required a delicate balance. For the king to become a symbol of pan-Islamism would threaten this balance of powers, and it took a while to distance himself from championing the pan-Islamic cause and focus instead on reforms.

King Amanullah’s reforms were broad. He ended slavery, established the first Afghan constitution, penal code and many important modern institutions aimed at building a society based on the rule of law. He embarked on a major education agenda, founding modern western-style schools and sending dozens of Afghan students abroad throughout Europe. He emphasised women’s rights, saying that “the keystone of the future structure of new Afghanistan will be the emancipation of women”; to this end he established the first family code. Queen Soraya was the first First Lady in our part of the world that appeared in public without a veil or “limited” veil. He particularly emphasised girls’ education, constructing girls’ schools and sending girls to France, Switzerland, and Turkey. King Amanullah began to modernise the basic health systems, communications infrastructure, as well as the Afghan army. Telephones, telegraphs, a postal service, numerous print media, radio broadcasting, the metric system, cars and airplanes were first introduced in Afghanistan at that time. Besides these substantive changes, under King Amanullah Afghanistan began to modernise socially and culturally as well. Some symbolic changes such as mandatory use of European clothing for public workers and other measures sent shockwaves through the country and the region.  The many photographs of Afghans in western attire from the period are testament to the transformation that Afghanistan’s culture was undergoing.

King Amanullah turned to other nations for support with his reform efforts –Soviet Russia, France, Germany, Italy, the USA, Japan, and even Britain – but more than anywhere else, he turned to the fledgling Republic of Turkey. Afghanistan became only the second country in the world to recognise the new Republic, with the 1921 Turkey-Afghanistan Alliance Agreement, signed in Moscow, even as Turkey was fighting to establish its independence. The Agreement reflected the full mutual trust that Turkey and Afghanistan shared, going so far as to give each a voice in the other’s foreign policy, pledging not to enter into agreements with third parties without each others’ consent.

The Agreement ushered in a period of very close cooperation, as Turkey became integral to Afghanistan’s development and modernisation efforts. The Turks sent educational and military missions to Afghanistan. Turkey’s future Chief of General Staff, Kâzim Pasha, helped train the Afghan army and its officers. Turkey helped build the civil service by sponsoring the first administrative school; got involved in Afghan girls’ education and women’s rights; and later set up the medical training program that became the nucleus of the future Kabul University. Turkey was also instrumental in the drafting of our first Constitution and laws in the 1920s.

King Amanullah understandably saw Turkish involvement in Afghanistan as the key to progress, a manifestation of our shared aspirations for modernisation and to end backwardness. And in many ways, the King’s modernisation project paralleled that of Kemal Atatürk. But Amanullah’s programme was not a non-religious one, and broke from the western secular-modernist model by maintaining a connection between religion, state and law.

The debate between secular-modernism and the religious element is highly pertinent to today’s world. The Al-Qaeda sort of religious extremists denounce the nation-state as un-Islamic and a “blasphemous idol”, though the mainstream view in most Islamic countries is that secular-modernist reform is not inherently anti-Islamic or even non-religious. Rather, the key to modernisation is simply modernity and modern values, as both King Amanullah’s and Kemal Atatürk’s reforms show – values such as freedom, rule of law, progress, prosperity and human rights.

Where Atatürk’s modern state survived, however, Amanullah’s failed. When the King met Mustafa Kemal in Turkey in 1927, forming a strong personal connection, Atatürk is said to have advised him to always maintain the strong support of an army with which to resist counter-pressure from conservative forces. But the failure of the King’s reforms was not due to the lack of a strong army or strong support from the army, or any anti-religious character of his reforms as claimed by his enemies. Rather, where Turkey could tap the uniting power of Turkic nationalism for the new Republic, Afghanistan was disadvantaged by a powerful and divisive tribal and religious elite opposing the reforms. But most importantly, Afghanistan’s strategic location often made it a pawn in the game of international geopolitics, which has sadly undermined many of our past attempts to modernise, from King Amanullah’s to the end of the Cold War.

Now we are engaged in a new attempt at modernisation. Yesterday’s Bonn Conference, ten years after the fall of the Taliban, marked a historic milestone for my country, the largest international gathering on Afghanistan in history, where the international community pledged its continued support for another decade after the end of transition in 2015. In this international support, Turkey’s role is crucial, and now as in Atatürk’s day they have proven themselves a steadfast ally. Just last month Turkey generously hosted the Istanbul Conference on regional security and cooperation, and established the Istanbul Process. Turkey has also been fully supportive of us as we reclaim our historic role as an economic and cultural hub in the ‘Heart of Asia’.

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk is often remembered as a great leader, revolutionary and moderniser. But we in Afghanistan also remember him as a true friend to our nation, and in this regard his legacy lives on. Today, as we did ninety years ago, Afghanistan can count on the leaders and people of Turkey for inspiration, support and friendship, for which we are deeply honoured and grateful.

I thank you.


Slide Show by Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the United Nations

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Permanent Mission of Afghanistan