Updated: 30-Jun-2004 NATO Speeches


29 June 2004


by President Karzai of Afghanistan
at the meeting of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC)
at the level of Heads of State and Government

NATO Istanbul Summit
Video of the Press Conference
Audio of the Press conference (.MP3/6950Kb)
High resolution photos

Bismillah hir Rahmanir Rahim, Mr. Secretary General, Prime Minister Erdogan, Honourable Heads of States and Governments, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen.

I'm privileged to represent the Afghan people at this Summit and I'm grateful to NATO and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council for inviting Afghanistan. I'm also very thankful to the government and brotherly people of Turkey for the excellent hospitality provided to all of us.

Ladies and gentlemen, since the signing of the Bonn Agreement, Afghanistan has fortunately met all the datelines set for it. We have the transfer of power on time, we have the emergency Loya Jiirga on time to elect a new government, we had the constitutional Loya Jiirga on time to give us the most enlightened constitution in that part of the world and we are moving ahead on time for elections in Afghanistan.

With regard to the elections, today 5.2 million of the Afghan people have registered to vote. Out of the 5.2 million people registered, 37% are women. We saw two days ago that election officials were attacked by terrorists, two women registrars were killed. We also saw, three days ago, that people carrying registration cards were massacred by terrorists and the Taliban but this did not deter the Afghan people from registering.

This morning I was speaking to the Secretary of the Election Commission, he told me that in the city of Jalalabad where this killing of women registrars occurred the registration has increased for women to three days ago; today he has registered 6,000 women in addition to others in that city. Also in the city of... or in the province Oruzgan registration is going on as normal in spite of the killing of civilians. And I was told this morning that if this trend continues in Afghanistan, Afghanistan will have by the 10th of July registered six million people.

With the regard to the enthusiasm of the Afghan people for peace and stability, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to give a few examples. Our economy grew 30% in the year 2002, our economy grew 25% in the year 2003, our economy is growing at a rate of about 15% today. Our economy will grow for the next four years at the rate of 15% and beyond that for another five years at the rate of at least 10%.

We have embarked on the building of the Afghan National Security institutions. Today, we have 10,000 of our National Army and today we have 20,000 of our national police. Our National Army, wherever they have been deployed, have been received with cheers and welcome by the Afghan people. They see them as the institutions necessary for Afghanistan's stability and peace.

Most important of all, ladies and gentlemen, the Afghan people have proven to be extremely enthusiastic about building their lives and their country. This enthusiasm was shown also in the way they embraced international partnership to fight terrorism in Afghanistan and the way they welcomed and appreciated and asked for more of the International Security Assistance Force. From the first day of the starting of the work of the interim government until today, ladies and gentlemen, the Afghan people keep coming to me from all parts of the country and are asking for increased participation of the International Assistance Security Forces. The demand of the Afghan people to have more of the coalition forces and the security forces, especially NATO's forces in Afghanistan, in parts of the country where they are not there is because they trust these forces.

It is because they have seen that the presence of these forces in Kabul, in the form of ISAF has provided security to the people, has provided the environment for a vibrant economic activity by the private sector and by governmental and NGO activity.
The Afghan people trust in the International Security Force and in the NATO's force to come to Afghanistan and provide the Afghan people with the much needed secure environment for them to build their lives is seen and visible in the welcome that they have given to the international forces.

The process for elections, the process for rebuilding the country, the process for providing education to the Afghan people, the process for better health services to the Afghan people is visible by the fact that we are today sending five million children to school, is visible by the fact that we are today opening clinics all over the country, is visible for the fact that reconstruction is taking place all over Afghanistan, is visible by the fact that we are rebuilding our roads and our economic lifelines.

Today, in Afghanistan, we have a population that is ahead of the government, a population that is ahead of what we are doing in Afghanistan to provide them the means of life and their political freedoms. We have a free media, we have political parties law, we have elections law, this country is moving forward but this country needs to be secured and secured by the international community.

Afghanistan does not have at this point the institutions to look after its own security. Ten thousand of the National Army, twenty thousand of the national police are not enough for us to secure our lives and to work politically towards a better future. Afghanistan will have elections in September to elect a President. Afghanistan will hold elections soon afterwards to elect a Parliament. The Afghan people have shown their keenness to participate in determining their future by going to register in spite of the terrorism and attacks against them.

They showed that in the emergency Loya Jiirga, they showed that in the constitutional Loya Jiirga, they're showing it again today by going to register--5.2 million people--in less than two months of registration. The Afghan people are asking us to be on time and to fulfil their desire to determine their future, to be democratic and to be a country with institutions.

Afghanistan, ladies and gentlemen, will be with you in this campaign, will be with you in this effort. The Afghans will be your participants in providing security to Afghanistan, our National Army and our national police will be with you in this effort on your part. We recognize that Afghanistan will stand on its own feet. Afghanistan is working towards that objective. Afghanistan will in a few years' time be on its feet and at that time, the international community will not be burdened by the demand of providing security for us and at that time, Afghanistan will be a partner with the international community, a viable partner with the international community for the provision of security forces.

I welcome very much your decision yesterday to send us security forces to help us with the elections but elections are coming in September and we need security forces today in Afghanistan to provide a secure environment for elections for the Afghan people and beyond.

Our request today is to please fulfil the commitment that you have made yesterday for Afghanistan before elections so that we, in Afghanistan, can provide our people with an environment in which they can go and vote freely and fairly.

The reason we need this is because we have three challenges still facing our country. First is the challenge of terrorism as you are all aware. Second is the challenge of private militia forces as you are all aware. Third is the challenge of narcotics.

And all these three challenges can combine their hands together to pose a threat to us and by consequence to the international community. Afghanistan provides all of us an opportunity to have a secure, stable, peaceful, prosperous country by the participation of the international community and by consequence also to provide security to the rest of the world on the fronts of security and economic wellbeing.

The Afghan people have shown, ladies and gentlemen, their appreciation of the coalition forces in Afghanistan. The Afghan people have shown, ladies and gentlemen, their appreciation for the ISAF force in Afghanistan. The Afghan people have trust in the security that you are going to provide to us, but the Afghan people need that security today and not tomorrow.

If we provide Afghanistan with a secure environment that they are asking for today, the tomorrow of our country and the tomorrow of the international community will be a much safer place than what we have today. Afghanistan welcomes you to come to our country and to provide us a secure environment for elections and afterwards.

I thank you very much for what you have done yesterday for us, and I would like you to please hurry, as NATO in Afghanistan, come sooner than September and provide the Afghan men and women with a chance to vote freely, without fear, without coercion and to choose with their hand their leadership and to choose with their hand their members of Parliament and by that, take this country to a higher stage of legitimacy and peace and stability and that, the Afghan people recognize your participation and contribution and are grateful for it and appreciate it very, very much.

Thank you.

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