I would like to thank Mr. Mistura for the report that he has just given on the situation in Afghanistan, and I would like to express my support for the statement that the European Union will issue.
I would also like to join all those who in their speeches expressed their appreciation to Ambassador Richard Holbrooke and his action for peace and security in Afghanistan.
The parliamentary elections of September 18 were far from perfect. They nevertheless allowed the Afghan people to express their opinion and their institutions to demonstrate that they were able to organize, conduct and manage these elections by themselves which, I reiterate, were held under very difficult conditions. The results announced on 24 November and 1 December by the independent electoral bodies must be respected and the new parliament convened as soon as possible. I support the Secretary-General when he warns against calling the entire electoral process into question under the pretext of legal investigations.
I want to reaffirm my country’s support for the independent electoral bodies which should be central to the new process that lies ahead, i.e. the reform of Afghanistan’s legal framework, a necessary reform that has been put off for too long, as underlined by Security Council resolution 1917.
By voting for their representatives, Afghans of all ethnic groups, religions and political convictions combined, expressed the desire that their collective future be decided through debate within institutions and not by force. This is a powerful message delivered in support of inter-Afghan reconciliation. There can be no military victory without a political solution in the same way that reintegration cannot be achieved without true reconciliation. We continue to support President Karzai’s efforts in this direction and welcome the creation of the High Council for Peace. The hostile statements by certain Taliban leaders must not, under any circumstances, cause the Afghans who are acting in good faith to deviate from this objective of achieving peace.
This process must be conducted by the Afghans themselves, but we must continue to demand that they comply with the conditions that were clearly reaffirmed at the Kabul Conference: the renunciation of violence, the severing of links with international terrorism, respect for the Constitution, the protection of human rights and women’s rights. We have confidence in the Special Representative to relay this message, and commend his increased involvement in this process. The sanctions regime established by resolution 1267 will, when the time comes, provide a helpful tool in terms of both encouraging and putting pressure on the armed opponents who want to return to the democratic process. Resolving the crisis and restoring the stability of Afghanistan will ultimately depend on strengthening regional dialogue; the United Nations is in the best position to support this dialogue.
Since our meeting last September, the joint effort conducted by ISAF and Afghan security forces has enabled us to regain our advantage with respect to the Taliban and to consolidate the presence of the Afghan State in certain parts of the country. Little by little, the Afghan army and police are growing stronger. Our military and training efforts are beginning to pay off; this is also the case for Surobi District and Kapisa Province, where French forces are deployed. It is an encouraging development for the future of Afghanistan.
Our effort is now part of a strategy to transfer all security responsibilities to the Afghans by 2014. This is one of the principal results of the NATO Summit in Lisbon on November 19 and 20, attended by the Secretary-General and President Karzai. This transition process is in keeping with the approach we have advocated since the Bucharest Summit in 2008: that of afghanization. It must be based on security and governance criteria, to ensure that the transfer is enduring and irreversible, and it must take into account conditions on the ground. This process will gradually redefine the shape of our civilian and military engagement in Afghanistan, and it is important for UNAMA to prepare for it.
Despite these encouraging developments, we do not underestimate the difficulty of the challenges facing us. The security situation remains troubling. It is troubling to note that the civilian toll continues to rise. The Secretary-General’s report unfortunately confirms that the drop in the number of victims connected with operations by pro-government forces, achieved through the efforts of and heightened risk to our own soldiers, is overcompensated by an increase in casualties inflicted by the Taliban, whose attacks target civilians and military personnel indiscriminately.
I would like to conclude by reiterating my gratitude to UNAMA staff and my full support for the Special Representative’s work. UN personnel are doing an extraordinary job in difficult conditions, as we were reminded by the Herat attack on October 23.
In the weeks and months to come, it is crucial for the UN to remain actively engaged in Afghanistan, with financial resources and a mandate that are commensurate with the challenges they must confront.