I thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and the Permanent Representative of Afghanistan for their statements. I also align myself with the statement to be made by the observer of the European Union.
I congratulate the Afghan authorities on assuming the responsibility for security in the country on 18 June. That was an important step forward and demonstrated that Afghanistan is on the path to reassuming full sovereignty. The Afghan National Security Forces are now able independently to defend the entire Afghan population against attacks by armed terrorist groups. The international coalition will now play only a support role in those efforts.
Only a genuine, inclusive inter-Afghan political process will guarantee the emergence of a stable and peaceful Afghanistan. France stands ready to support that process, as it has in the past, including through using levers such as the sanctions regime of the Security Council. The dialogue must be led by Afghans, in line with principles they themselves have defined and endorsed by the international community in Bonn on 5 December 2011, and by the Security Council. These principles include renouncing violence, breaking ties with international terrorism, and upholding the Afghan Constitution, particularly in terms of women’s rights.
In that context, my delegation has taken note of the public announcement recently made concerning the official opening of an office representing the Taliban, in Doha. We hope that the office will contribute to establishing inter-Afghan political dialogue, which would promote progress in establishing peace in the country.
Nevertheless, the report of the Secretary-General (S/2013/350) notes the worrisome increase in civilian victims, particularly children, which is obviously unacceptable. Attacks on humanitarian workers, including from the International Committee of the Red Cross, have also increased. The report also recalls that the Taliban has been responsible for the majority of civilian casualties, which demonstrates that group’s lack of concern for human life.
The friendship between France and Afghanistan is deeply rooted in a shared past, as we celebrated last year 90 years of diplomatic ties. Since our armed forces withdrew from Afghanistan late last year, a new step forward has been taken in our bilateral relations, based on strengthened civilian and military cooperation under the framework of our friendship and cooperation treaty dealing with the allied forces and the civilians. Our aid will reach nearly €300 million in 2012-2016, representing a 50 per cent increase in our assistance envelope, in order to assist the country in moving from a war economy to one of peace.
The international community, having been offered a series of guarantees, has committed to continuing its support to Afghanistan during the transformation decade. The presidential elections of 5 April 2014 and the legislative elections of 2015 will demonstrate, in that context, a decisive step forward in Afghan democracy and long-term support for Afghanistan, in line with the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework.
We call on the Afghan authorities to convene credible, inclusive and transparent elections and to accelerate the adoption of an appropriate legislative framework to define dynamic anti-corruption measures, and to guarantee the independence of the Independent Election Commission. Like the Secretary-General, we call on the authorities to swiftly adopt structural and electoral legislation and to appoint a consensus-based individual to head the Commission.
Next year will see the end of the international community’s military commitment, which took the form of a combat mission created in response to the attack on the United States of 11 September 2001. We hope that the year will also be one of political transition for Afghanistan and strengthened democracy.
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