I thank Special Representative of the Secretary-General Kubiš and Minister Rassoul for their statements. I endorse the statement to be made by the observer of the European Union.
The attacks by Afghan police and soldiers on their trainers and the actions of insurgents should not overshadow deeper, positive trends. The transition is under way and the security of 75 per cent of the Afghan population is now provided by the Afghan National Security Forces. As underscored in the Secretary-General’s report (S/2012/703), there has been no deterioration of the situation in areas where the transition has taken place. We have seen that in Surobi and Kapisa, where by the end of the year the proven combat-ready Third Brigade of the Afghan National Army will assume its full responsibilities.
Security incidents are down by 30 per cent from the same period last year. The number of civilian victims has also dropped, although not by as much. More than 80 per cent are still caused by insurgents. Afghan security forces have reached their maximum troop strength. We will continue to train Afghan military and police into 2014, to which we will devote a third of our overall aid to Afghanistan. Our sole aim is to leave in place professional, credible and sustainable Afghan security forces, to be funded entirely by the Afghan State by no later than 2024.
Those developments are complemented by the international community’s ongoing long-term support of stability and development in Afghanistan through civilian assistance. That was resoundingly reaffirmed on 8 July at the Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan.
At that time, the French Minister for Foreign Affairs announced an increase in our civilian aid to Afghanistan of 50 per cent over the level of the past five years, to €308 million, focused on agriculture, education, cultural exchange, archaeology, research, economic development, security and health. In accordance with our friendship and cooperation treaty, that aid will be structured according to the Afghan Government’s priorities.
The Tokyo Conference was especially significant for the commitments taken on by both sides. The Afghans pledged to work towards good governance; to organize credible, transparent and inclusive elections within the agreed timeframe; to implement international economic recommendations; and to fight corruption and to protect human rights, especially the rights of women. We expect the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), in accordance with its mandate, to play its full role in supporting Afghan authorities in that difficult but crucial work. The regional dynamics critical to Afghanistan’s future continue to be marked by contradictory forces.
The Istanbul process is now guided by Afghans, with support from neighbouring and partner countries, which will meet in New York on 24 September to stake stock. France has expressed its interest in helping to develop confidence-building measures in counterterrorism, counter-narcotics and natural disaster management. Moreover, like the Secretary-General we follow with concern cross-border military activity in Kunar province and military activities on both sides of the border.
I conclude by commending the support the United Nations lends Afghanistan through its ongoing presence over the course of 60 years and the efforts its staff, led by the Special Representative, who do heroic work under difficult conditions in service of the Afghan people and Government. That support requires resolve, given the budgetary constraints on the United Nations and its presence in multiple areas of crisis, stretching the Organization’s limits.
The Afghan Government should increasingly work to maintain that relationship, first of all by guaranteeing security for United Nations and embassy personnel. Let us not forget the United Nations staff members killed at Mazar-i-Sharif, even as we once again see conditions virtually identical to those that caused their deaths. The Afghan authorities should also make full use of the United Nations sanctions regime as a confidencebuilding measure towards inter-Afghan reconciliation, for example by proposing new listings.
We are certain that the United Nations in general and UNAMA in particular will have a major role to play in Afghanistan in the years to come. We hope that budgetary considerations will not undermine the ability of the Mission to fulfil its core mandate as set out by the Security Council.
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