Statement by H.E. Salahuddin Rabbani Minister of Foreign Affairs of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan at Joint High-Level Briefing on Up-Coming Geneva Conference on Afghanistan
UNHQ - New York, USA
September 24, 2018
Assistant Secretary General Miroslav Jenca, Ambassador Yamamoto, Deputy Finance Minister Payenda, Distinguished Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased to be in the presence of so many friends and partners, as we meet to discuss the agenda and key objectives of the International Geneva Conference to be held in November.
We look forward to a productive session, which will help ensure a successful outcome.
Let me begin by thanking Ambassador Yamamoto, his team at UNAMA and our colleagues at the Ministries of Finance and Foreign Affairs in Kabul for all their efforts in the preparation for that important gathering.
I also want to thank all of you for taking the time to attend this meeting.
It is reflective of your continued support and partnership with Afghanistan, for which we are grateful.
The numerous countries and organizations assembled in this room have been part of a difficult, yet strategic journey that began in 2001 to promote global peace and security, by virtue of a stable and prosperous Afghanistan.
The Geneva Conference will mark another milestone in our partnership with the international community.
It will be an opportunity for us to highlight achievements with respect to obligations assumed at the Brussels Conference in strengthening the effectiveness of our State institutions; enhancing service delivery for our people; but above all, in working to advance the rule of law as an important factor for our overall stability.
On the other hand, we will get a picture of the extent to which our international partners adjusted the nature of assistance delivery so that its impact is more visible and tangible in helping to improve the lives of our people.
That meant taking measures to align assistance programs with our national priority programs, under the Afghan National Peace and Development Framework (ANPDF).
The situation in Afghanistan has evolved over the past several years. So too has the capacity and role of the Afghan Government in assuming leadership of the security, economic and governance pillars.
This was the essence of the Kabul Process, initiated in 2011 to implement these three transitions.
The broader significance of the Geneva Conference relates to the start of a new phase in our joint partnership.
In that regard, we will subscribe to a new set of commitments, under the Geneva Mutual Accountability Framework, to be implemented on a reciprocal basis.
We believe the new phase of cooperation between Afghanistan and the international community, including regional partners, will be of special importance in the context of our long-term partnership with the international community, by virtue of our goal to become a Self-Reliant nation by the end of the Transformation Decade.
Our success in this endeavor will be the ultimate test of all that we have done together over the past 17 years for the security and stability of Afghanistan, the region and the world at large.
I will touch on the key elements of our discussions in Geneva.
Deputy Finance Minister Payenda, Ambassador Yamamoto and Deputy Minister Raz will provide a more detailed overview of various aspects of the Conference, including preparations thus far; the Conference agenda; expected outcome; final communiqué and the Geneva Mutual Accountability Framework.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As representatives of many partner countries and organizations, all of you are well aware of our strong resolve to achieve a peaceful solution to the current conflict in our country.
The temporary cease-fire with the Taliban was only a glimpse of hope, but a development nonetheless. Yet, we are far from our intended objective.
Geneva is an opportunity to integrate regional and international support behind our peace plan, presented in Kabul in February.
We welcome the support of all partners for our peace efforts through various initiatives, under the overarching Umbrella of the Kabul Process.
We expect all such support to conform with the principle of Afghan ownership and leadership of the Peace Process.
Here again, I want to reiterate that an inclusive peace process, enjoying the overwhelming support of all Afghans is imperative for achieving the desired result.
By the same token, parallel to our peace efforts, we will continue to defend our territorial integrity and sovereignty against all terrorist and extremist groups, which are targeting our civilian population and seeking to prevent our security and stability.
Geneva will also be about reorienting the nature of our collaboration with international partners to advance the implementation of our self-reliance and reform agenda.
While progress was made against the benchmarks of the SMAF, new measures under the new accountability framework will benefit two key objectives:
First - generating greater coherence and efficiency of international aid; and
Second - reinforcing our progress in implementing our national peace and development framework, and national priority programs.
Needless to say, building on past reform efforts will remain a key priority for the remainder of the Transformation Decade.
In this context, among other areas of reform, sustained focus on ensuring free, fair, inclusive and transparent elections is a fundamental need.
The Conference will also take stock of advances in the area of regional connectivity, which is among the most notable achievements of the National Unity Government over the past four years.
Economic ventures such as the CASA 1000, TAPI, and Five Nation Railway Project, which were once just a concept, are now turning into reality.
Air corridors developed with India, Kazakhstan and and most recently Turkey have already led to a substantial increase in the volume of exports abroad.
We are in the process of operationalizing additional air corridors with other regional countries.
We also have high expectations of the Lapis Lazuli project, which, once fully operationalized, will mark another major milestone in the region’s economic integration.
These initiatives are part of our broader efforts to achieve the full potential of economic opportunities available in the wider region.
In early December, the 8th Ministerial Meeting of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process will be held in Turkey.
That will provide us another opportunity to follow-up on Geneva commitments related to specific economic regional projects.
The event will also feature an international investment road-show that will attract new investments by the private sector and business communities.
That said, we look forward to renewed commitments of the international community to further elevate the economic cooperation agenda to new heights, under our Afghan-led RECCA and Heart of Asia Processes and other initiatives.
Let me also seize this opportunity to thank all partners for their proactive engagement in the negotiation process of the Geneva Conference Communiqué.
We look forward to a final document that will clearly reflect our enhanced partnership in the way forward.
I want to close by conveying our gratitude to the United Nations for rallying international support behind Afghanistan.
Our meeting today in this building is another step in that endeavor.
We thank all partners, member-states and organizations alike, for standing beside us in our continuing journey for lasting peace, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan.
With that, I have the pleasure to give the floor to Deputy Minister Payenda.