Updated: 30-Oct-2006 NATO Speeches


20 Jan. 2005

Press Briefing

by Minister Hikmet ÇETIN, NATO Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan and Mr. Habibullah QADERI Afghan Minister for Counter Narcotics

Audio file
High resolution photos

JAMES APPATHURAI (NATO Spokesman): Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for coming this morning and I would like to also thank very much the two ministers I have sitting next to me. It's a rare privilege to have two - one "ex" but still very important to NATO.

Let me first welcome Minister Qaderi who is the new Afghan Minister for Counter-Narcotics or Anti-Narcotics, I've seen both translations, but I think you know as well as everyone that the portfolio that Minister Qaderi now has is one of the most important for his country. It is also one of the most important for all of our countries. This is a huge challenge, he has probably one of the toughest jobs in the world but he has taken the time to meet with all of us today.

To be here in NATO for a seminar that NATO is holding on Afghanistan on the way ahead and I'll give you a bit more detail about that.

Minister Çetin you all know is NATO's Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan. He leads the political efforts of the Alliance there, he's a very close confidante of course of the Secretary General and plays a critical role in the political process there. Indeed I have learned over the past few days just how critical a role he plays. So it is a great pleasure for me to have - for us to have both of them here today.

Let me just take two minutes to give you the context of why they are here and then I'll turn the floor over to Minister Qaderi. The North Atlantic Council is holding a seminar later today on Afghanistan and the way ahead on Afghanistan, for our countries and for ISAF of course in particular but this is an international community effort.

We have with us today, distinguished representatives from the government, and of course that includes Minister Qaderi and quite a few others including I believe--is the Deputy Foreign Minister, did he manage to make?--the Deputy Foreign Minister Dr. Reza and the Vice-Minister of Finance I believe? As well Mr. --and Transport okay that's not in my notes so there's been a slight change--but we have very senior representation from Afghanistan.

We also have representatives from the United Nations here; the EU; the OSCE; Japan representing the G-8 as the lead nation for Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration; and the UK as the G-8 lead on Counter-narcotics; Operation Enduring Freedom is represented; and of course I've mentioned Minister Çetin and ambassadors from non-NATO ISAF-contributing nations are all here as well.

The logic of this is very clear, of course, NATO is fulfilling its role to support the peace process, to support the central government as we had promised to do and support the election process coming up later in the year but there is of course a growing challenge and of course a challenge for the international community to support the Afghan government not only in that challenge, but in laying out its own political future beyond the fall elections or the summer elections- so we need to work as an international community to support that.

The seminar here has brought together all of these ambassadors to learn from the senior decision makers, from the experts on the ground, their views. There will basically be two panel discussions: The first, the intent in the first one is to address the overall international challenges and efforts, the second one to focus more on what NATO and ISAF priority roles can be and we have international experts, external experts, who will begin the discussion and then it will continue from there.

These are the aims and the expectations that we have for the seminar which will begin later this afternoon but let me conclude by saying that these two representatives that we have here today are critical participants and turn the floor over to first Minister Qaderi and then Minister Çetin for their interventions and then we'll-

HABIBULLAH QADERI (Afghan Minister for Counter Narcotics): Thank you very much. Your briefing has been very important and helping and I don't have to talk a lot but maybe I can just give a short briefing about the first, starting with the history of the poppy growing or the narcotics in Afghanistan.

It's not a very old phenomena and it's not a new phenomena. It's almost some twenty years back it has been started, and the reason being that there was no security in Afghanistan at different times during the Russian regime, during the Taliban regime. Of course it has increased a lot during the Taliban regime and then there was a curb on it due to certain reasons.

But for the new government, Mr. Karzai, he's determined to get rid of the narcotics, the illicit narcotics in Afghanistan, and that's why Afghanistan has ratified different international instruments, the UN conventions, and also during the recent constitution, Loya Jirga or the Grand Assembly, it is also - is part of the - Article 7 clearly mentioning the cultivation, production, smuggling, abuse, and conversion of the opium to other products is banned and it's a crime.

Also there has been a religious decree from the Ulemas, the religious leaders in Afghanistan, banning similarly the use, production, conversion, smuggling etcetera.

Also this ministry is a new ministry in the new cabinet. We had in the past a department working on counter-narcotics and that department, I think there was a need to upgrade the department into a ministry, so in the new cabinet we have a Ministry on Counter-Narcotics and certainly we have our own plans now and the plans, I would like to just give a little information - would be almost of public information, alternative livelihood, demand reduction, criminal justice, law enforcement, capacity-building and surveying, monitoring and evaluation.

So we will work on, mainly on five fronts but of course with the capacity-building, which is very, very important we can only achieve our goals when we have the capacity-building, then surveying, monitoring and evaluation.

Of course we have big challenges to counter the narcotics in Afghanistan. We need resources, we need capacity-building for it and we hope we receive assistance from the international community but the Government of Afghanistan especially Mr. Karzai is determined that Afghanistan get rid of the narcotics.

Thank you.

APPATHURAI: Thank you very much, Minister Çetin.

HIKMET ÇETIN (NATO Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan): Good morning. I'm very pleased to be here again. I don't have too many things to say but, just to tell you that what's important for NATO, for ISAF now, for us in Afghanistan.

I have been living there for a year now and during this period of course we had a very, very good things happen in Afghanistan. We had very successful elections - presidential elections; integration; and the security situation is getting better in Afghanistan and now we have a new cabinet which is clean and all experts and they are very competent in their business and now, what's important for us now?

First, to go Stage 2 which means to go to the west: Herat, Farah, Badghis and Ghowr area. And this is very urgent and I think the coming months we will be able, ISAF/NATO to expand to do Stage 2 and go to the west because this is, according to our mandate we have to go step by step to all Afghanistan.

And the second thing of course now for Afghanistan and for all the international community, to have the parliamentary election because that's very important, parliamentary elections - not only parliamentary elections but all the provincial council elections and district council elections and that will be of course an important thing in the democratic process in Afghanistan because during this election, almost 4,000 people will be elected by the people which is very, very important in Afghanistan; to have - to let the people to elect their district council, provincial council and then the parliament.

And of course the third thing for NATO/ISAF in the coming days, to support parliamentary elections because the parliamentary election, we do expect will be more important - or more even critical than the presidential election because as I have said allowed for - these three elections: 4,000 people will be elected, there will thousands of candidates and then that would be local people, local candidates, former warlords, factions and all will be involved in the election. And for that it is very important and NATO has to prepare another package for supporting parliamentary elections.

But the one good thing of course in Afghanistan now, the Afghan Nation Army is getting back- now we have almost 16,000 being trained, well-trained and now deployed all over the country and we hope before the elections the full corps, the total would be five corps, the four corps will be deployed: one in the west in Herat, one in Kandahar in the south, one in Gardez east and one in Mazar-e Sharif north. That means of course it will be very important for Afghanistan.

And secondary of course the nation's police; and as we all know that US is leading the ANA (Afghan Nation Army) and Germany is leading police training. And the target of course to reach 62,000 but now already 33,000 being trained and these days of course they are concentrating--which is very much related to His Excellency--that they have to train- we have to train counter-narcotic groups and border police which is very, very important to Afghanistan, to Afghanistan's neighbours is very critical and we do need to have specialized police to - narcotics - and also border police.

During the election of course we will support Afghan Nation Army and Afghan police with the coalition of course, together, and to have another fair and free elections we do hope. Then of course that means Afghanistan- the situation in Afghanistan, the democratic process will be in place and this is very important and we are working on those things.

And the last thing of course that we are now discussing, and I will mention this afternoon also, that after the parliamentary election will be the end of the Bonn process and Afghanistan will need a new road map. The involvement of the international community will continue but then we will have the new - we may need - we are discussing this now with Afghan and President Karzai's agreed with that and we will need another international conference and this will be the important stage for Afghanistan.

And that conference, I think, will be more Afghan ownership because one thing now that we see in Afghanistan in all areas we do support and they are willing to get more Afghan ownership as we have seen now in counter narcotic, more Afghan ownership; in nation police and nation Army; and all other areas more and more Afghan ownership which support of international community.

But one thing is important--this is the last thing I'm going to say--is now the security situation is much better and the Afghan people want to forget about the past, they want to look at the future. We have seen that during the presidential election, and I can see that everyday. They want to forget about the past. They want to go to look at the future.

And one other thing that is important now, DDR: disarmament, demobilization and reintegration. It's going very well but the R part, the R is not there yet which is to get jobs for the people and to reintegrate them with the whole nation but DD --demobilization and disarmament -- it's going very well and over fifty percent's already been done and we do hope, and our objectives by day, and New Year - Afghan New Year which is 21st of March we do hope we will be able to get an end to DD part of the DDR but then we have to concentrate on R.

That means of course, Afghanistan - this is Afghanistan, ready to go to democracy; ready to integrate with the international community; ready to be part of the international world but they need support. They need help and this time now, they need more support, more help in the economic side also. Because they need more jobs, they need more education, better health and that is also important for dealing with the terrorism as well.

Because, the environment is important for terrorists, if you create an environment that - the Afghan people are getting better to go to school and they have opportunities to go to have jobs, I think that will also affect very much and very importantly to terrorism as well.

I think these are the points that I wanted to say. I hope- well I'm not- but I will leave many questions but I'm better to stop there.

Thank you very much.

APPATHURAI: Thank you. Let's go around the room and we'll take questions first here and then there. Can you identify yourselves please-

Q (Radio Free Europe): Two questions for the Afghan Minister please. There's been talk of a certain need of money to provide poppy growers with alternative livelihoods. What sort of funds do you have in mind and where would they come from? And secondly, do you think you would need more NATO and US help on the military- the force side to accomplish your aims?

QADERI: Thank you. I would like to say that certainly we need to give more strength to the alternative livelihood. If we want to have a sustainable solution to the eradicate or get rid of the poppy growing we have to something- where need assistance also from the European countries, from the America itself. This money of course would be spent on the short tem plan and on the long term plan.

And for your second question, we certainly need the forces as far as the capacity building is concerned. We do need that our police, the counter-narcotics police, to be trained in different areas and in certain areas they can also give help on the security side also.

Q (Atlantic News): Still on the same subject. If you could specify concretely what are you expecting from NATO and the international community against drugs. I mean- would you want NATO to actually fight against traffickers, would you want NATO and other countries to go and spray insecticides on the plants?

QADERI: I've explained about the plan of the Government of Afghanistan to everybody and NATO is also part of that but, as far as the fight is concerned, as I mentioned earlier we have to do a fight that is sustainable. But the spray has been ruled out by the president because it's got other hazards along with it.

Other hazards, like it's a health hazard - Afghanistan is not like Europe that the water goes in pipes to different houses. In the rural areas, it goes through the channels and it certainly affects - and it affects other crops, it affects the animals also in those areas.

Q: Question to Mr. Çetin. You said, the security situation has improved. But there was some talks, some reports, that if NATO assists the Afghan government in the fight against narcotics the security situation could worsen again very quickly and NATO would have to step up safety guards. Is that so, do you expect such difficulties?

ÇETIN: Thank you very much. First of all NATO doesn't have any mandate for direct involvement at the moment. NATO cannot have direct involvement because NATO doesn't have any mandate to deal with that. And secondly of course, I think at the moment, it doesn't have enough capacity in Afghanistan to deal with that because that you need many things to do for that.

And thirdly of course, well the next six months are very critical for Afghanistan and for NATO. As I have mentioned expansion, parliamentary election, support for parliamentary election, and DDR and of course when we DDR there are some other problems are coming. There's some irregular militia, there a small group and this is... will affect stability in Afghanistan. At the same time, at the same moment at the same time, to have kind of what - have in your mind to kind of fight against - or to have the eradication or the fight with the farmers, I think will destabilize Afghanistan. It would be the element of destabilization for Afghanistan, this is very critical the next six month period.

And not only that we do not have a mandate but generally speaking of course in Afghanistan, because we are responsible for supporting the peace and security and (inaudible) in Afghanistan that will destabilize in my view that the next months the situation in Afghanistan. We have to be very careful but we should not forget that in the longer term, stabilization without counter narcotic will not come to Afghanistan. That's for sure, you're all aware of it. But we have to have a very realistic plan, a realistic program, to deal with this issue in planning and a comprehensive plan because if we do - we all know that drugs are not important only for Afghanistan but for the whole world it's important and again, for the lasting stabilization without counter-narcotics cannot come. We cannot have the long term stabilization without counter-narcotics.

At the moment, you are right, if you go comprehensive fighting and so on which no one thinks of that, it will destabilize the situation in Afghanistan.

Q (Bulgarian Daily): Mr. Minister I would like to ask you where you are staying now, would you mind to give us some figures on their fight against narco traffic, comparing last year for example because we are a bit lost with the elections and your new ministry. And Mr. Çetin my question is on your new package on the parliamentary elections. What does it mean you might need more soldiers for the parliamentary elections, 9,000, will that be enough like they were for the presidential and what else might be changed since last year? Thanks.

QADERI: Thank you. Last year also there has been some police action as far as the smuggling is concerned. And also, we will continue to stop the smuggling certainly more police will be trained. That certainly will go ahead.

But the plan is that we have to work on one side on the anti-smuggling and sometimes interdiction of the heroin, labs, et cetera. But of course we are being careful with the eradication of poppy, I mean poppy fields or poppy plants. These are two different issues and certainly the plan we will have- also have to work on other things, the public information--telling the people that according to the constitution it's banned, according to the religion it is banned. We have to do some demanded action also. There are so many things we have to do simultaneously.

ÇETIN: But first of all now, the first thing to know the exact date of elections and then, our SACEUR will make a study. Of course with the cooperation, with the ISAF in the field and because in Afghanistan ISAF, the coalition and the Afghan government, we had very good coordination in the past election and will have the same coordination and cooperation in the next election as well; and then we will see what we do need and what the Afghan have, what we do need. And then SACEUR will make a study, this is a technical thing.

About the number, well I will prefer to have less numbers with less caveats- a number with many more caveats because the more important thing to have a flexible deployment rather than a number with more caveats. But number is technical things and that will come out of that but, one thing is important that is of course to have less caveats- it's more important than the number.

Q (Bulgarian National Television): I have two questions. First of all, to Ambassador Çetin: What's the biggest problem for the security of Afghanistan? And to Mr. Qaderi: Does the government of Afghanistan have a plan for the eradication of the opium plants and after that with what plans you can change these areas because there is a proposition from the Bulgarian Minister of Foreign Affairs to cultivate roses in Afghanistan.

ÇETIN: Excuse me what was the first question, I didn't get it?

Q: What is the biggest problem for the security...

ÇETIN: Biggest problem for the security-

QADERI: Yes the eradication as I mentioned earlier we will be careful with the eradication. Certainly it's in the plan but we have not yet decided how do it, when to do it, you know as has been mentioned by Ambassador Çetin that to take away the livelihood of the farmers could create a security problem in certain parts of Afghanistan especially at this moment in time because elections are coming.

And the proposal for the alternative planting of roses, they are hundred percent most welcome, I am there in Afghanistan. Any proposal, anything that we can eradicate the poppy or replace it with the roses that will be very helpful and appreciated; of course we will cultivate roses but maybe you can also help us to find a market for those roses. Thank you.

ÇETIN: Of course there are well-known threats that we know- of course there's al-Qa'ida, Taliban and Hekmatyar, they are less important now I think we can- I cannot expect to have a mass kind of threats from those groups but some small incidents- incidents of course we can have in Afghanistan but, I think the most important threat--if we look at the long term--is poverty.

Poverty because this is- they are one of the poorest countries in the world; the poverty is the main threat and drugs of course the main problem there's no doubt about it. And of course, the (inaudible) coming now, emerging the kind of irregular militia. And all I think is- I will put on the top is poverty, poverty- economy.

Without that of course all other things will- even if we get rid of them, they will come back again. But the most important thing is poverty in the country.

Q (Associated Press): You just mentioned poverty is a major problem. Given that according to the United Nations the opium production accounts for around sixty percent of Aghanistan's GDP, how do you convince farmers who are poor and who rely on that income from the drugs, how do you convince them to give up that money? What can you do to persuade them to stop and to switch to another crop?

ÇETIN: It is certainly very important, you know, it's sixty percent. That's why we need, you know I've also discussed this, that some mechanism we have to think about for the time being we have thought about the subsidies given to the farmers to leave poppies and grow other plants. That is one of the things. And that's why we don't have to be in a hurry to eradicate the whole thing in one year's time and then we lose $2.8 billion and it is very, very important this money for the Afghan economy.

So certainly we have to think about- and we are thinking about for the short term plan that we have to have some subsidies.

Q (BBC Arabic): My question is to Mr. Qaderi. Two questions in fact... Mr. Karzai had a plan of winning the lord's to his side by offering them government posts like General Daud(sp?) and others. Do you think that this plan has yielded any fruit in combating narcotics? This is number one because he was made - General Daud was made head of anti-narcotics agency I believe?



QADERI: One part of the- the policing portion has been given to him, under the Ministry of Interior...

Q: My question- Is this kind of plan, offering the lords posts in the government in lieu of...

QADERI: Lords? You mean warlords.

Q: Yeah, warlords, yes. This is- has it yielded any fruit?

The second is that you said that there's a decree or a fatwa from the clergymen or Ulemas to aware the public that this is religiously prohibited, the narcotics, keeping in mind that for decades before Mr. Karzai there has been another--rather many--fatwas, many decrees, from the clergymen that narcotics are legal. So, what do you think the situation will be, is it not confusing to the public and in a democratic society you aspire for, don't you think that the people will have the choice to follow either fatwas or either decrees?

QADERI: Thank you. On the first question, it's not a matter of warlords or regular people to take these posts. General Daud has been appointed because he's popular in different parts of - especially in the northern parts of Afghanistan and so far he's doing a good job. He's visiting the areas, he's going himself to the different- he's meeting with the governors, he's meeting with the police chiefs in different parts. He's trying to convince them that they should not grow poppies. That is the situation for the time being.

I don't know - I'm not a warlord in any case and he made me a Minister.


But, on the other question you mentioned, certainly it's not been in the past- it was said that- we know opium is used in medicine and I think in cough and colds they use all over the world. So the quantity was less so the religious people were not saying much. Now they know that it is becoming- they convert opium into heroin and heroin- or morphine which is very much dangerous to the human health and consumption and the quantity has increased.

So now they are saying that we have to do something about- we have to curb it or stop the cultivation. So this is the reason the religious people see that it is being used by the Afghans, it is being used by- consumed by the outside, by the people outside Afghanistan whether it's Iran, Pakistan and European countries. So it is becoming a danger. That's why they say we have to ban it.

ÇETIN: Can I add one thing?

Well I think we- the one thing that we have to be aware of, I'm always thinking about the farmers. Because at the moment, as his Excellency explained they had no alternatives. During the war just everything destroyed. No roads, no any infrastructure, nothing happened- nothing stayed behind because Afghanistan was a different country compared with other parts of the world.

When the Soviet Union left the country, nothing left behind and then the civil war, no state, no state institutions, no infrastructure, no roads, nothing. And now for the farmers, they- became kind of only one crop, only one source of income and the farmers get only one billion dollars every year on the average from opium but the cost in the world is maybe 40 billion dollars in the European market. And now I think the Afghan, his Excellency and Afghan, they have to show the farmers- to show them alternatives because that will need some kind of community development including the religious man, the elders, the police, maybe- well not maybe next time parliament and provincial council and we're altogether to tell them that well this is the case, we have alternatives now. You can go to the road, you grow wheat, forget about the different incomes.

There are some parts in Afghanistan they cannot bring wheat to the market, there is no road, no facilities. We have to provide seeds, we have to provide irrigation, we have to provide fertilizer, you have to guarantee a market and we do this in our country for the agricultural sector. I think all around this table, in all our countries, in developed countries- the whole agricultural sector itself is very unstable depending on weather conditions, depending on demand and supply.

We are all supporting our agricultural sectors one way or another. When we say you have to grow wheat or other crops there should be some kind of guarantee, different kinds of guarantees. Guarantee will start from inputs at the beginning, the inputs is seeds and other things and then, at the end the guarantee of market and this things not exist yet in Afghanistan.

And Afghanistan without the support of the international community cannot do this. This is the situation in Afghanistan.

Q (Iranian News Agency IRNA): Mr. Minister how do you see the role of your neighbours like Iran and Pakistan in the fight against drug trafficking and Mr. Çetin you have called for the expansion of ISAF all over Afghanistan, how long do you think this will take?

QADERI: The role of Pakistan and Iran is very important. We certainly, again I would put the stress on the capacity building of this ministry, because Iran and Pakistan have been in this field- mostly Pakistan there have been areas where they would grow poppies. That is one thing. The other important thing we will need is will be the border control.

Certainly it is very, very important if they can control the borders towards Iran and Pakistan, we can control a lot of smuggling and certainly if we can control the borders all over Afghanistan the prices of the opium will drop drastically and there will be no market for- it's not an edible thing. It's something, you know, hazardous to health and nobody would buy it.

But I know it's very, very difficult to control but they can assist us in this area.

ÇETIN: Of course this issue work out- headquarter here and in SACEUR but we do know that there are four stages. The first stage now, the north, is under command and control of NATO ISAF. No problem we have PRTs, we have everything there.

And now the next six months, between now and the ISAF 7, between now and August let's say, the second stage the west I think, the expansion will go into the west and I do hope--well this is just estimate of what I just hope--that beginning of- the first half of 2006 they will move into the south the third stage; but then we will look, when we go to the last stage which is the eastern part of Afghanistan.

Q (National News Agency of Ukraine): Speaking about the problem of opium, you referred to farmers but it looks like it is not the main problem for- just because it is no secret that the main income for warlords and (inaudible) come just from opium growing. The question is that after parliamentary elections, those leaders who will come to parliament, the question is what are your ministers going to do after parliamentary elections then opium brought into law(?)

QADERI: First of all, you know, the warlord term itself is- we are talking about the bad people if that is the case, I mean we will try not to first allow them to come to the parliament. That will be the first thing by the government.

The second thing, certainly it will become difficult but I think nobody is above the law. At any moment, at any time, if the government can prove that they are involved in the drug smuggling or even in the cultivation, they will be prosecuted no doubt and I think also there are some discussions going on before the parliamentary election that those who are involved in the smuggling or those who have cultivated poppies; whether they- should they be allowed to stand for the election or not. Thank you.

Q: We've been here for almost one hour and we haven't heard many figures about what is going on in Afghanistan in dealing with this big business, so a colleague had to tell that probably like something 60 percent of the GDP of Afghanistan- could you elaborate what are the figures that you are going to provide in this seminar this afternoon and how do you say that there is infrastructure to getting out say conventional commercial goods like wheat when for example there is infrastructure to flood the world with the poppies and heroin so- and you have spoken also of a first and second plans or plans that are short and long terms to eradicate the production of poppies, could you be more precise and tell us what are the first and second stages of these plans to deal with this question. Thank you.

QADERI: Yes certainly. The figure is that, according to the UNADC, the United Nations Agency for Drug Control, drug control and counter terrorism- the figure is $2.8 billion a year. That was the last year figure there saying- and according to them more or less some 600 million goes to the farmer and the rest is the smuggling, all kinds of other things.

So this is, you know, the figure again given is this 60 percent of the GDP of Afghanistan. This is the figure- I don't know if it enough.

On the other thing as we mentioned that we must give some subsidies with two reasons. One is to give a better income to the farmers and also we have to balance this $2.8 billion in a way that the overall economy of Afghanistan is not affected.

For the long term plan, we are talking about developmental projects in different parts of Afghanistan. During the 20 years of war, the whole irrigation system is shattered. There is water in Afghanistan but we have been affected by drought for almost seven years and the main reason is that the irrigation system is not working properly. We need a lot of dams to be built in Afghanistan to manage the water, we need to repair many irrigation channels, we need to as Mr. Çetin mentioned, to construct roads between the farms and the market and certain we have to work on the agro-based industry which will buy back these agricultural products and certainly we have to do- to aid the value of those products.

We have also to do a lot of things like I mentioned- we can have the vegetables from Europe, from different parts of the world, vegetables and fruits comes to Europe, to other countries. We can also do a similar thing to aid the value to those products and send it to outside Afghanistan. Certainly will be very much helpful in the eradication or curbing of the poppy cultivation.

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