I would of course like to thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan for the presentation of the report (S/2010/463) and the briefing on the situation in Afghanistan they have just made.
The representative of the European Union will shortly make a statement, with which France associates itself.
Two important events this summer have had a significant impact on the political situation in Afghanistan that should give us a degree of optimism.
The first and most recent event was the holding of legislative elections on 18 September.
It is a cause for satisfaction that, despite their threats and violence, the Taliban failed to prevent 2,500 candidates from campaigning and more than 4 million Afghans from voting.
That is the first success, and it is an Afghan success. However, the task is not yet finished. The Electoral Complaints Commission should impartially and professionally address the fraud complaints that have been brought to it. The official announcement of results, scheduled for 30 October, must not be delayed.
The second event was the holding of the Kabul Conference on 20 July, under the co-chairmanship of the United Nations and the Afghan Government, which aimed to establish another milestone in Afghanistan’s transition to full exercise of its sovereign authority, which began at the London Conference last January.That is why our leaders so strongly emphasized that the Conference, which brought together 76 delegations from throughout the world, had to be held in Kabul and nowhere else.
The meeting made it possible to reaffirm the support of the international community for the peace, reconciliation and reintegration programme that President Karzai launched on 29 June.
That process should be carried out by Afghans themselves. However, the international community cannot just stand on the sidelines. Our support must remain undiminished, so long as certain conditions are respected: the rejection of violence, the absence of links to international terrorism, and respect for the Constitution, human rights and the rights of women.
The evolution of the composition of the list of persons and entities linked with Al-Qaida and the Taliban, established by the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1267 (1999), has concretely spelled out the inter-Afghan reconciliation process. We are prepared to pursue dialogue with Afghan officials with a view to considering the eventual removal of the Taliban from the list if they meet the political criteria of reconciliation.
The Kabul Conference also made it possible to acknowledge the work done by Afghans and NATO for a gradual transfer of responsibility for security in various provinces and districts.
Those efforts must continue and must lead to the gradual assumption by Afghans of responsibility for their own security, and they should be accompanied by our ongoing support to train and equip Afghan security forces. That is the best way to demonstrate to Afghans and to public opinion in our own countries that progress is being made. However, we must send out a clear message that transition does not mean departure, but an increasing handover of responsibilities to Afghan security forces with the assistance of the international community.
Improving governance and combating corruption are key elements of the contract proposed at Kabul between the international community and the Afghan State.
The Taliban, who are responsible for the overwhelming majority of civilian casualties, as my British colleague has just emphasized, are continuing their attacks and extortion and are giving no sign of a desire to engage in dialogue. The Afghan people and the members of the international community have paid the price. In spite of the efforts by the Government of Pakistan, the havens that the Afghan Taliban continue to use there remain a matter of concern.
It is in that context that we need the legitimacy, impartiality and expertise of the United Nations in Afghanistan more than ever before.
France unreservedly supports the work of Special Representative Staffan de Mistura. We pay tribute to all the staff of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), who have carried out their duties under difficult conditions.
We support the Special Representative’s priorities under his 3+1 approach, which is in line with the mandate provided in resolution 1917 (2010). That re-centering is now beginning to produce results.
First, I wish to refer to the elections again in order to commend the United Nations for its assistance in the preparations for the poll. I should also like to thank Mr. De Mistura for his personal involvement at decisive points during the electoral process. That is precisely the role of the Special Representative. He has our full support.
Secondly, support for an inter-Afghan and regional political reconciliation process will likely be the most difficult and important issue to be dealt with in the coming months. We should further work to ensure that the United Nations plays a decisive role. In that regard, we are prepared to consider modalities for further involvement by UNAMA, which should remain President Karzai’s sole interlocutor on this issue.
However, the key to the stability of Afghanistan is also a regional matter, and the United Nations, by virtue of its impartiality, is well situated to bring together all regional stakeholders around a common goal.
Lastly, the Special Representative and UNAMA should continue to work on bringing coherence to international assistance, along with the Afghan Government and the Special Representative of the International Security Assistance Force, with the aim of moving towards the goal of aligning 80 per cent of international assistance with national priority programmes.
Allow me to conclude by reiterating my country’s commitment to Afghans in their struggle to establish a country where the rule of law, democratic and prosperous, prevails, while ensuring that their territory does not once again serve as a launching pad for international terrorism.
We shall continue to be part of collective efforts by focusing our military and civilian forces in Kapisa Province and the Surobi district.
As the President of the French Republic has often affirmed, France will continue to be engaged as long as necessary — and as long as the Afghans wish us to be.