I thank the Secretary-General for his report (S/2011/772*) and welcome the presence here today of Mr. Jawed Ludin, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan. I would also like to congratulate Mr. Ján Kubiš on his appointment as Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).
We hope that he is able to swiftly take over his new duties and reiterate that he can rely on France’s support. I wish, of course, to thank Mr. Staffan de Mistura for his work and again express to him our strongest friendship and esteem. I endorse the statement to be delivered by the observer of the European Union and will limit my statement to three points: the deteriorating regional environment, our shared objectives and the role of the United Nations in achieving those objectives.
First, with regard to the deteriorating conditions in the regional environment, it is paradoxical that the regional climate has deteriorated in an alarming fashion, while progress has been made in Afghanistan. For example, the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board met after a one-year hiatus, a Peace Jirga was held in an atmosphere of calm, Parliament resumed activities after several months of stalemate and the transition process continued, with many municipalities and districts having been selected for the second tranche of that process. Another example of progress is the recapitalization of the Kabul Bank, which meant that the International Monetary Fund could resume its country programme.
Notwithstanding that, the regional climate has deteriorated. Since 2008, France has championed efforts to enhance regional cooperation, for example by holding the ministerial meeting in La Celle Saint- Cloud. Afghanistan must again become a centre for productive trade, as it had been in the past. The States of Central Asia understood that, as did the countries that met in September in New York to discuss a vision for the New Silk Road. The region needs a collective security system to fight the scourge of terrorism and establish specific confidence-building measures between Afghanistan and its neighbours.
During the Istanbul Conference, which also dealt with regional security and cooperation, Afghanistan and its neighbouring countries stated that they were willing to work on confidence-building measures to bring about peace and security in Afghanistan and in the region. The countries of the region must make specific and binding commitments in preparation for the meeting to be held in Kabul in June 2012.
Secondly, with regard to our objectives, the goal of the international community and Afghanistan will continue to be the country’s lasting stability and the Afghan people’s ownership of their national destiny. Transition is already a reality for half of the country’s people. The foreign presence in Afghanistan will evolve so as to support the build-up of the Afghan National Security Forces. France, for its part, will reduce and redeploy its contingent in consultation with our allies and the Afghan authorities. A cooperation agreement between France and Afghanistan, which is being concluded, will address the build-up of the civilian component of our work. In Bonn, on 5 December, we entered into mutual agreements for the 2015-2024 Transformation Decade, which will follow up on the transition process and be consistent with the commitments made in Kabul in 2010. I should like to congratulate Germany and Afghanistan for the success of that important event and support the statement to be made in that regard by the President of the Security Council.
We remain determined to prevent Afghanistan from again becoming a haven for international terrorism. The real but residual presence of elements linked to Al-Qaida in Afghanistan and in the Pakistani tribal areas is a reminder that the danger still persists, even though it is nothing like it was 10 years ago. The perpetrators of the recent attacks, in particular on the Day of Ashura, and the killers of Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani must be condemned and brought to justice. There is room for those who wish to lay down their arms and rejoin the Afghan constitutional framework. For a lasting and fair peace, inter-Afghan reconciliation must be inclusive, offer an equitable place in Afghan society to its various components, and respect human rights.
Thirdly, with regard the role of the United Nations, we firmly believe that the Organization in general and UNAMA in particular have a major role to play in Afghanistan in the years to come. The success of the transformation depends to a large degree on UNAMA’s success. We therefore await with interest the results of the current review. The United Nations must continue to support democratic governance, particularly in the areas of support for the electoral process and for strengthening the rule of law and respect for human rights. It must also support the national and regional aspects of the peace process and coordinate the work of the United Nations with the assistance provided by the international community. The fight against drug trafficking should remain central to the work of specialized entities, particularly the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, with support from UNAMA.
We cannot expect everything from the United Nations after 2014, but, given the challenges that await Afghanistan, it is essential that we reaffirm our support for a strong Mission in order to sustain the transformation towards a peaceful, stable, prosperous and regionally integrated Afghanistan.