Dinner Meeting on the Afghanistan Geneva Ministerial Conference

October 28, 2018

Kabul

 بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم

 Minister Qayumi,

Ambassador Yamamoto,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to welcome you all to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan. Our meeting this evening is the first in a series of dinner events, which aim at providing opportunities to share updates and discuss views on the most pressing issues, as well as major ongoing processes that focus on the stabilization and sustainable development of Afghanistan.

Our dinner meeting this evening focuses on the upcoming Geneva Conference, which will bring high-level representatives from Afghanistan and our regional and international partners to discuss the status of our shared journey since 2001. We will also discuss the way forward, reaffirming our commitment to consolidating our shared gains of the past 17 years.

Before highlighting some of the key issues on the Geneva Conference agenda, I wish to thank Minister Qayumi and Ambassador Yamamoto, as well as their able teams for their continued efforts to prepare for and organize the Geneva Conference.

I also wish to thank you all for taking the time to attend this event. Your presence here speaks to our unwavering, firm partnership to achieving sustainable peace, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan, our region, and the wider world.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This past week, we witnessed an important milestone in our democratic process. Despite the imposed challenges that confront Afghanistan and our partner-nations, Afghans across our country lined up for hours over two days to exercise their democratic right to vote for their favorite parliamentary candidates. This sent a strong message to the enemies of Afghanistan that our people are determined to move forward towards a stable and prosperous Afghanistan.

On the other hand, however, there have been reports of irregularities and mismanagement which, I hope, will be investigated thoroughly by the relevant authorities so that the legitimacy of the election will not be undermined, retaining the confidence of our public in the electoral process. In the same vein, I hope that—learning from the lessons and challenges related to the parliamentary elections—better preparations will continue to be made for the upcoming presidential elections in 2019 to ensure a fair, transparent and inclusive electoral process.

However, I am glad that with the holding of the parliamentary elections on the set date, we have been able to complete one of the important benchmarks designed to complement the reforms under SMAF. Efforts on accomplishing the other benchmarks have also been well underway and my colleagues from the Ministry of Finance and UNAMA will certainly provide updates on them.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me very briefly discuss why the Geneva Conference is important and what we are expecting from the Conference:

First, the Conference will provide an excellent opportunity to take stock of the progress with respect to the mutual commitments made at the Brussels Conference, while highlighting the challenges that we still face in accomplishing our shared commitments. In Geneva, we will present the status of our reforms in key areas, as well as our priorities for the coming years. We will also discuss with the international community such key issues as the alignment of international assistance with our national priority programs in line with the Afghan National Peace and Development Framework (ANPDF).

Second, the Conference will bring us to a new phase of partnership characterized by a new set of mutual commitments under the Geneva Mutual Accountability Framework (GMAF), which will be crucial in taking our reform agenda forward towards self-reliance in the next few years. Minister Qayoumi will further elaborate on this new framework.

Third, our focus in Geneva will remain on development issues. But the conference will also provide an opportunity to discuss the peace process given the inseparable link between peace and development in the Afghan context. As we have highlighted in the past, our resolve to achieve a peaceful solution to the current conflict in Afghanistan remains strong. Despite our ongoing peace efforts, including the temporary ceasefire with the Taliban, we are far from our intended objective.

That is why Geneva will be an opportunity to discuss how we can further integrate our efforts at the national, regional and international levels in support of an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process. President Ghani outlined this based on a lucid peace strategy in the last two meetings of the Kabul Process, as well as in the Tashkent Conference. But as we remain committed to an inclusive peace process, we are determined to defend our country, people, as well as our developing democracy against ruthless terrorists and their indiscriminate attacks, which we witnessed during the recent elections.

Fourth, as reflected by the Conference’s theme, regional economic cooperation and connectivity underpins Afghanistan’s development agenda. Hence, the Geneva Conference will discuss the ongoing progress made under two prominent Afghanistan-centered regional cooperation frameworks: RECCA and HOA-IP. In this context, the next HOA-IP Ministerial Meeting and the associated investment roadshow—which are scheduled for mid-December—will complement our discussions in Geneva.

Finally, our gathering in Geneva will convey a strong message of international partnership for furthering the causes of peace, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan. This, in turn, will help maintain regional stability and advance international peace and security, in line with the United Nations Charter and other international laws, to which Afghanistan and our partner-nations are firmly committed.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

To conclude, I am confident that the Geneva Conference will mark another milestone in our continued, shared journey. I along with Minister Qayoumi and Ambassador Yamamoto look forward to welcoming our friends, foreign ministers and heads of regional and international organizations in Geneva soon.

Thank you!

“Zohra” conveyed the message of young Afghan women to the world leaders in Davos; to the diplomatic community, UN, students and public in Geneva; and to the public in Zurich.

Afghanistan is known for being a land of beauty and challenges, aspirations and struggles; where everyday life can be constrained with insecurity and trauma, or inspired with love and determination for a better life. The conflict and the suicide attacks have taken their cruelly toll on almost all walks of life; targeting schools and universities, clinics, sport fields, road passengers and even public mourning events; denying life for civilians including women and children.

Afghanistan is also known for its old civilization, its courageous people and the potential in its young population. This reflection is, however, about how an innovation and commitment when met with opportunities could transform the life of young women and in turn help the country in building a peaceful, just and civil society. The Afghan Women Orchestra “Zohra” is a group of over 30 girls, aged 13 to 20, who have defied the odds against them and chosen music for their education and career. Many students in “Zohra” Orchestra are from poor families, are orphans and used to be street children; whose childhoods were shattered with the loss of loved ones, displacement, conflict and extreme poverty. And today they are the first women in their country to learn music in over 30 years. This is a significant progress in Afghanistan where less than two decades ago, during the Taliban Regime, music was forbidden; listening to music, playing music and possessing musical paraphernalia were outlawed and were subject to punishment – let alone if this was by women. In January 2017, “Zohra” Orchestra was invited to Switzerland where on January 20ththey performed in the closing session of the annual meeting of World Economic Forum in Davos; in collaboration with the local Swiss musicians- Orchestre du Collège de Genève. Hundreds including heads of states, dignitaries, business leaders, academia and world media attended the performance and it was live streamed on the Forum website.

 

 

Her Excellency President Doris Leuthard of Swiss Confederation met female Ambassadors accredited to Switzerland, Bern, April 27, 2017. Her Excellency President Leuthard spoke about the role of multilateralism, global cooperation and dialogue; Swiss and EU relations; Swiss development assistance; and the role of women in the national and global context. The meeting provided a candid opportunity for a conversation between female Ambassadors and the President. This year is the second term of President Leuthard as the President of Swiss Confederation following her first tenure in 2010. In addition to being President, she also heads the Federal Department for Environment, Transport, Energy and Communication in the Swiss Confederation.

 

“Occident meets Orient, Encounters with Afghanistan” is an exhibition about Afghanistan opened in Bern, Switzerland. The exhibition is organized by the library Am Guisanplatz of Ministry of Defense of Swiss Confederation and Stiftung Bibliotheca Afghanica and is open to public till February 28th, 2018. Ambassador Suraya Dalil attended the opening of the exhibition and spoke about the role of tourism and trade in connecting cultures and societies. The exhibition displays images, traditional items, books and print materials from Afghanistan; some of which are as old as a century. Counselor Latifa Wali Rahimi and Mr. Bilal Ahadyar, the second secretary, from the Afghanistan Embassy in Geneva, accompanied Ambassador Dalil.

 

Afghanistan and Turkmenistan joint invitation for RECCA 7 was presented to the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs in Bern on July 20, 2017. Ambassador Suraya Dalil of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to Switzerland jointly with Ambassador Atageldi Haljanov of Turkmenistan submitted the shared invitation to Mr Nicolas Brühl, Ambassador and Assistant State Secretary for Europe, Central Asia, Council of Europe, OSCE at the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. Turkmenistan government will host the RECCA 7 in its capital Ashgabat on 14-15 November 2017 for which high-level government delegations are being invited. The Conference focus is regional economic integration through investments in energy, transport, trade and transit, communication, business to business and labor support. Afghanistan’s potential in connecting Central Asia with South Asia is centric to Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA).

 

 

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