|Updated: 11-May-2005||NATO Speeches|
11 May 2005
by the President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, H.E. Mr. Hamid Karzai at the North Atlantic Council meeting with non-NATO ISAF contributors
Well, I had prepared a long, lengthy speech, but the Secretary General says introductory. That meant, be short. So I'm going to be deviating from my speech and just talk to you.
Mr. Secretary General, ladies and gentlemen, the NATO Council, it's a tremendous pleasure for me and the Afghan delegation to be meeting with you once again after the Istanbul meeting and before that when I had the honour of receiving some of your ladies and gentlemen in Kabul.
Afghanistan has since then made significant progress thanks to your contribution to Afghanistan. You came and met with us before the presidential elections. We had a successful presidential election in which the Afghan people participated fully; where more than 8.2 million people voted, of which we're very happy to note over 42 percent were women.
The elections for the president, indeed, brought the defeat of terrorism and extremism. It brought the political defeat of terrorism and it drove away from the minds of the Afghan people any fear of that kind of a presence.
It also demonstrated to the rest of the world that work in Afghanistan has results. That work together with Afghan people has results, for Afghanistan and for the rest of the world.
Ladies and gentlemen, what we have today in Afghanistan has not come to us without a cost to you. You have sent to our country your sons and daughters, who have at times provided security to our people at the cost of their own lives. Now that's a... there's no sacrifice bigger than that in any society, in any part of history. We, the Afghan people, owe our security today, our progress today, the institution-building in Afghanistan today, the economic progress, the relative prosperity, the relative peace and stability that we have today, to the sacrifices your sons and daughters have made in Afghanistan.
The Afghan people will not forget that. Today, in Afghanistan, in major cities, in villages, in towns, if people can go about their daily work, if children can go to school, if women can go to work, if women can participate in social, in political, economic activities in the country, it's because you are there with us. Without your presence all of this would have not been there in Afghanistan. With your presence we have what we have today.
So I thank you once again on behalf of the Afghan people for what you have done for us. And I'll repeat once again that we will not forget the sacrifices your sons and daughters have made in our country.
Having said this, having noted the progress that we have made, having noted the stability that we have, having noted the institution-building that we have done, having noted the democratic structures that we have begun, the institutionalization of democracy that we have begun, I must say that this does not mean that Afghanistan is now all a rosy picture. I must also say that with the completion of elections in Afghanistan will come the end of the Bonn process. That should not lead us to believe that now the responsibilities of the international community, of NATO in Afghanistan in particular, are over.
No. By the completion of the parliamentary elections in Afghanistan, when the Afghan parliament comes to begin its work, we will only begin a different phase of the work that we have in Afghanistan. By that time we will have laid the foundations of democratic institutions and prosperity and peace in Afghanistan. Then we should begin to build on those foundations beyond the parliamentary elections.
My request today is that you continue to stay with us after the parliamentary elections. For if you don't do that we will leave the work halfway undone. It will take our country many, many years before we can stand on our own feet in real terms; before our security forces, our institutions can be capable of doing things on their own; before we can practice democracy, and also ensure security; before we can defend our borders.
Till that time, till we reach that capability I would request you, on behalf of the Afghan people, to stay with us and as you have given us hope and results, I'm sure by the end of that time, which will mean Afghanistan standing on its own feet, the Afghan people will be a happier lot, and your contribution to Afghanistan will be one of tremendous significance for us, and for the prosperity and peace around the world.
Thank you very much.