Thank you very much for giving the floor to the European Union.
The Candidate Countries Croatia*, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, and Montenegro*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia align themselves with this declaration.
Like others I would like to greet Special Representative Staffan de Mistura and his team and thank them for their excellent work as well as for the good cooperation with the European Union. I also thank Ambassador Tanin for his statement.
The Secretary-General’s report on UNAMA before us today provides a comprehensive assessment of the situation in Afghanistan and devotes a good deal of attention to the transition to full Afghan leadership regarding security and to the broader Kabul process which has gained some momentum in recent months. The EU welcomes the wish of the Afghan Government to take the lead in the transition process and the overall development of Afghanistan, as recently expressed in the letter of Foreign Minister Rassoul to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. We appreciate that the transition will soon be officially launched and look forward to the announcement by President Karzai on the occasion of the Afghan New Year on 21 March of the first tranche of districts and provinces to be transitioned.
At the same time, we fully endorse that – as the Secretary-General underlines – the exercise of sovereignty also implies responsibility, first and foremost towards the Afghan people. In the face of significant security incidents, many of which affect or target an alarming number of civilians, we remain committed to calling for and assisting a sustainable transition process. While we are pleased with the continuing build-up of Afghan security institutions, we still need to see them develop a stronger capability to protect the population against violence and hence support training efforts to that effect.
We all together subscribed to a comprehensive vision of security for Afghanistan which encompasses good governance, human rights and development because it is our common understanding that successful and sustainable transition is also predicated on an inclusive political process as well as on tangible, country-wide improvements for the Afghan people. In view of that, we welcome the election of the speakers of both houses of parliament and the appointment of 34 senators by President Karzai and hope that the political institutions can soon focus on the actual challenges at hand and thereby gain legitimacy in the eyes of the population. We believe that it is time to resolve the current disagreements over the composition of the parliament, while respecting the mandate of the electoral institutions and the separation of powers.
On a more general note, continuing to build strong and credible institutions, able to deliver justice and other services to the people, are key priorities. Also, we cannot stress enough the importance of improving the capability to ensure the human rights of all Afghans, including women, children and persons belonging to religious or ethnic minorities and to protect them from violence and abuse. Moreover, the EU firmly believes that all countries stand to gain from a greater involvement of women as important actors in post-conflict development, as stated in Security Council resolution 1325 (2000), and in public life in general.
The Kabul process has made some headway since the Kabul Conference in July last year, but more remains to be done to respond to the basic needs of the Afghan people. For its part, the EU has not only further increased its assistance package [now amounting to 200 million Euro per year], but is also on track regarding the alignment of its programmes with government priorities and the channelling of assistance through Afghan government structures and multi-donor trust funds.
Afghan ownership and leadership is indeed essential for a sustainable transition and needs to be matched with accountability, strengthened financial management and effectiveness of institutions this is also indispensible for the success of the National Priority Programmes and for continued international assistance in times of greater scrutiny by the domestic constituencies of Afghanistan’s partners. Moreover, it has become apparent that economic governance requires particular attention, including improving the oversight of the financial sector, where necessary with the assistance of international financial institutions. We call for an urgent solution to the Kabul Bank crisis and believe that it could be conducive to an agreement on a new IMF country programme.
As previously stated in this Chamber, and in view of all this, the EU’s long-term assistance to Afghanistan focuses on capacity building in all fields as it seeks to assist the government to deliver on its commitments to build sound governance structures, combat corruption, strengthen the rule of law and respect for human rights, and to foster overall police reform and economic development through rural development and agriculture, as well as regional cooperation.
As the transition proceeds gradually, UNAMA continues to play a critical role in the coordination and management of international assistance as well as in support of the Afghan-led peace and reconciliation process which must respect human rights and transitional justice. A balanced UNAMA presence throughout the country, including by UN Funds and Programmes, is needed for this, all the more as we believe that UN field offices carry out essential tasks. We also endorse a continued UN role regarding long-term electoral reform, the importance of which was underlined in the Kabul Communiqué, in particular as regards the sustainability of the electoral process. Efforts in this field should build on the lessons drawn from the 2009 and 2010 electoral cycles. As mentioned previously, the EU remains strongly committed to assisting with the reform of the electoral process and institutions, with a view to ensuring the broad representation of the Afghan society and guaranteeing the separation of powers.
In conclusion, Mr President, we support the proposed extension of a strong UNAMA mandate so that the mission can continue to contribute to and steer the creation of an enabling environment for successful transition and transformation in Afghanistan. For its part, the European Union recently reaffirmed its strong support to transition and the importance of long-term cooperation with Afghanistan, also beyond 2014, in a meeting with President Karzai.
Thank you, Mr President.
* Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Montenegro continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.