I have the honour to speak on behalf of the EU and its Member States. The Acceding country Croatia*, the candidate countries the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Iceland+ and Serbia*, the countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, the EFTA country Norway, member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.
I would like to thank the Secretary-General for his comprehensive report and Special Representative Ján Kubiš for his briefing. The EU acknowledges the important work of Special Representative Ján Kubiš and UNAMA in building a constructive relationship with the Government of Afghanistan. The political role of UNAMA in advising and assisting the Afghan Government is of central importance, not least in the context of the upcoming elections.
We were greatly saddened by the recent terrorist attacks in Afghanistan: including the attack on the compound of the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) at the end of May; the attack against International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC); the attacks on school children in Paktia province in early June; and the attack near the Supreme Court in Kabul last week. The EU condemns these cowardly attacks on humanitarian organisations and children. We support the efforts of the Government of Afghanistan and international community to create a secure environment in which the people of Afghanistan can live without the fear of terrorism and violence.
We welcome the announcements of this week that signal the potential for a better future for Afghanistan. The announcement of the final stage of the transition process highlights the progress made in the competence and effectiveness of the Afghan National Security Forces.
The European Union welcomes the convening of presidential and provincial council elections due to take place 5 April 2014. These elections, followed by the parliamentary elections in 2015, mark a further step towards entrenching democracy in Afghanistan. We strongly urge the Afghan authorities to continue to prioritise preparations for the elections, based on the principles of inclusiveness, transparency and credibility. In particular, it is important to put in place an electoral legal framework consistent with the Constitution, with credible measures to prevent fraud and overseen by independent bodies. Accordingly, the Government of Afghanistan is urged to speed up the legislative process and engage in earnest in bringing this work to a successful conclusion. The EU is assisting the preparations of the elections through technical advice to the Independent Election Commission and as one of the major funders of the electoral assistance program ELECT II led by UNDP. We will continue to engage fully with the process over the coming months.
The international conference held in Tokyo last year reaffirmed the partnership between the Government of Afghanistan and the international community for Afghanistan’s long-term security and development. The Tokyo Framework provides the key framework governing mutual accountability between Afghanistan and its development partners. The full implementation of reforms, in particular on elections, financial transparency, rule-of-law and human rights, in particular the rights of women, as well as continued efforts to combat corruption, remains paramount in achieving a successful transition and long-term transformation in Afghanistan.
We look forward to reviewing the progress made by Afghanistan and the International Community in meeting the goals of the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework at the July 3 Senior Officials Meeting in Kabul. The EU believes that the government needs to implement the following measures as a matter of absolute urgency ahead of the meeting:
- The electoral legislative framework should be adopted, so the elections are governed by law; the status of the Independent Election Commission is regularised; and a credible electoral complaints mechanism is established;
- The Chief Justice should be appointed in accordance to the Constitution;
- The Mining law, which is so important for attracting investment, should be enacted;
Credible and sustained action is also required to implement the statutory safeguards, most notably the Elimination of Violence against Women law, that strengthen human rights in Afghanistan, in particular the rights of women. The EU attaches great importance to gender equality and the empowerment of women. Afghanistan also needs to take systemic action to advance judicial reform. The failure of the Government of Afghanistan to develop a working justice system plays into the hands of the insurgents and those who would resort to summary justice.
An effective justice system and police force are critical to the rule of law in Afghanistan – something the EU is supporting i.e. through its support to police reform and the justice sector. This includes the European Police Mission in Afghanistan (EUPOL) which is supporting the establishment of sustainable and effective civilian policing under Afghan ownership and strengthening the links between the police and the justice sector. We are glad to convey that, on 27 May, the Council of the European Union extended the EU police mission in Afghanistan (EUPOL Afghanistan) until 31 December 2014 and allocated a budget of €108 million for the period from 1 June 2013 until the end of 2014.
The EU welcomes the outcomes of the 3rd “Heart of Asia” Ministerial Conference held in Almaty in April and reiterates our support to the Istanbul Process on Regional Security and Cooperation. The value of this process comes from it originating in the region itself. It has brought about important measures aimed at building confidence and increasing cooperation and inclusive sustainable development in Afghanistan and across the “Heart of Asia” region. The EU supports endeavours on the part of the “Heart of Asia”-countries to continue strengthening intra-regional trust. We thank Kazakhstan for hosting the Almaty Conference and welcome China’s offer to host the next Ministerial Conference of the Istanbul Process in 2014.
For the future, we are currently in the final phase of negotiating the Cooperation Agreement for Partnership and Development (CAPD) which will form the basis of EU-Afghan relations and for the next ten years. We are also in the early stages of putting in place the foundations for our development cooperation through to 2020. These are clear indications of the long-term commitment of the EU and its Member States to support Afghanistan through our comprehensive approach ensuring the synergies between political, security and development engagement.
* Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.
+ Iceland continues to be a member of EFTA and the European Economic Area.