Shukran Said Rais,
I listened very carefully to Foreign Minister Rassoul’s statement, and I very much appreciate it. I would also like to thank Special Representative Staffan de Mistura for his very comprehensive and lucid briefing and commend his constant efforts and perseverance, as well as those of his team, in the context of a difficult and complex environment.
Your statement, Foreign Minister Rassoul, the SG’s report and the Special Representative’s briefing have covered the essential aspects of the situation in Afghanistan.
Summer has indeed been a difficult season in Afghanistan. One of the most disturbing aspects of this difficult summer have been, as the Special Representative underlined, political assassinations, targeting notable figures at national, regional and governmental levels, of which former president and head of the High Peace Council Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani is the latest victim. I hereby reiterate my country’s utter condemnation of this murder and renew Portugal’s condolences to you, ambassador Tanin, and to all Afghans. These assassinations are one more effort to distract us – and the Afghan people – from what is happening on the ground: the gradual normalization of the country and ultimately the defeat of the enemies of democratic Afghanistan. But, as you said, Mr. Minister, we are confident that the reconciliation process will continue I order to reach peace in Afghanistan.
As regards Transition, we note that regions undergoing that process “face a resilient insurgency”. It is not surprising that these areas are particularly targeted by insurgents, who know that the Afghan and international efforts against them will be judged by how Transition evolves; it is also a matter for national institutions, at the security and public service levels, to show themselves in autonomous action before the Afghan people, and to deliver. In this regard, allow me to quote once more the SG’s report, in saying that what is needed is: “… an effective governance and delivery of services to the population. The momentum behind the security transition should not be at the expense of, or outstrip, efforts to invest in governance and development processes…”. We also take positive note of the separation of sanctions regimes regarding Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and the de-listing of a number of individuals. We believe that this was a useful measure towards dialogue and national reconciliation in Afghanistan.
The High Peace Council and the Salaam Support Group, to which UNAMA plays an important assistance role, are unequivocally a valuable tool for fostering dialogue and outreach inside and outside Afghanistan. Its relevance has only been reinforced by the recent attack on its president. We are sure that you will pursue your engagement of the High peace Council’s leadership, Mr. Special Representative, despite the latest events.
At the regional level, Afghanistan and its neighbours’ initiatives are noteworthy. Afghanistan, once more integrated within its region and closer to its immediate neighbours than ever before, recovers its place in the world and widens the horizons of countless Afghans. Opportunities for business, connectivity, investment and regional economic cooperation will strengthen the country’s independence and institutions, and improve the lot of ordinary Afghans.
civilian casualties have been increasing in numbers, notably due to cruelly designed and undertaken suicide attacks against civilian targets, such as hospitals and mosques. These are, by any account, crimes, whose victims require justice and whose perpetrators renew at every occasion their lack of legitimacy to represent Afghans or Afghanistan. Moreover, the use of children as soldiers, as well as deliverers of weapons and of explosive devices by anti-government forces is particularly heinous. This practice, perhaps before any other, must be stopped, and we welcome the efforts by the Afghan government regarding the recruitment and use of children by its security forces. We hope that further progress can be achieved within a short timeframe.
Protection of civilians needs greater attention, as the number of victims rises, as underlined by the Special Representative. This is a task, I believe, that is too important and too essential for the national reconciliation of Afghanistan to be left without a strong participation and indeed ownership of the Afghan institutions. Providing relief, care and compensation for civilian victims is possible and feasible within Afghan means, legislation and tradition.
Portugal follows with utmost attention the situation of Afghan women and wholeheartedly supports the Government of Afghanistan’s and UNAMA’s efforts to promote and protect the human rights of women and in advocating and monitoring the implementation of the Law on the Elimination of Violence against Women, as well as in promoting the political participation of women in peace and reconciliation processes. I would also like to mention UNAMA’s assistance to the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. The mainstreaming of Human Rights into the justice system, and the independent monitoring thereof, will surely reinforce the rule of law and the legitimacy of institutions.
Some brief words regarding the humanitarian situation and the counter-narcotics efforts. Food assistance will be needed in the coming months to hundreds of thousands in Afghanistan. This situation, beyond its evident humanitarian dimension, is an emerging threat to the security situation as well, as it may very well help in reversing achieved progresses in counterinsurgency. As regards the growing opium production, in itself a very worrying development, besides its connection to terrorism, Portugal encourages the government to pursue its national counternarcotics policies but also to seek regional solutions, including by sharing information, material and strategies, to the cross-border issues raised by drug trafficking and its link to other forms of international crime.
I conclude by sharing the Secretary-General’s view of the requirements for a successful Transition: the recognition that development, governance and the rule of law are crucial; the need for capturing momentum and accelerating sustainable development activities; assessing operational and support costs for development projects, and long-term international support and private sector investment. The coming Istanbul and Bonn conferences will allow us to start discussing these decisive issues very soon; they will be the stepping stones towards winning the battle of peace, security, and economic and social development in Afghanistan.
I thank you.