26 Jan. 2007


by Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Afghanistan at the Meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Foreign Ministers session on Afghanistan

Secretary General,
Distinguished Colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to represent Afghanistan at the NATO’s Foreign Ministerial Meeting. I would like to thank NATO for its invitation and the excellent organization and the generous hospitality offered to the Afghan delegation. From the outset, allow me to pay tribute to the sacrifices, professionalism, and dedication of NATO soldiers and also the political and material support of its members for building a stable, democratic, and prosperous Afghanistan.

The Riga’s Declaration has referred to Afghanistan as NATO’s key priority. Let me assure you that, for Afghanistan our cooperation with the international community is also our key priority.

Unfortunately increase in the terrorist activities in parts of Afghanistan during the last summer and often negative coverage of the media has clouded the many positive changes that Afghanistan has seen in recent years. In order to have a better assessment of today’s Afghanistan, we must begin by asking where Afghanistan was five years ago. In the course of five years, from a failed state and a haven for terrorists, Afghanistan is now a proud partner of NATO and many international and regional organizations. On last Sunday, Pres. Karzai opened Afghanistan’s National Assembly, which began its second year of activities.

On average, Afghanistan’s economy has seen double digit growth. In the next academic year, nearly seven millions Afghan students, girls and boys will attend schools and universities across the country.

The appointment of a new Chief Justice and Supreme Court justices and the recent 40 new appointments and changes of the police chiefs are examples of our commitment to good governance.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our journey towards becoming a stable, democratic and prosperous nation continues to face formidable challenges. I believe there are four interlinked threats facing Afghanistan: Terrorism, narcotics, weak state institutions, and in particular our security forces and socio-economic problems such as unemployment and poverty.

Tackling each of the four requires a comprehensive and integrated and well-coordinated strategy both by us and also by our international partners.

Fortunately important steps have already been taken in articulating and implementing such a strategy, including Afghanistan and NATO’s Declaration on Long-Term Cooperation and Partnership. I believe NATO can and should play a leading role to further enrich existing policies and framework. Because NATO’s engagement in Afghanistan is not only a military one, but more importantly it is for building a stable, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan.

Allow me to state some components of such an integrated and comprehensive strategy:

There are short and long-term objectives and goals in Afghanistan. Neither of them should be ignored at the expense of the other. In our common struggle against terrorism, providing the necessary equipments and flexibility for NATO troops in Afghanistan and also for the Afghan security forces is a matter of grave urgency.

We expect NATO to help us to help ourselves. Trusting and investing in the Afghan institutions, in particular our security forces is both economical and politically imperative. I am pleased that there is now recognition about the urgent need to mobilize resources for the Afghan security forces, in particular in Europe.

We have to avail from any opportunity to keep Afghan and international public opinion on our side. This requires a well-coordinated media and information policy both by NATO; and also by the Afghan Government. Regrettably we have not been successful in conveying our message, achievements and vision to the Afghan citizens and also to public opinion around the world.

As a result, a negative perception about the direction of the events in Afghanistan is growing in parts of Afghanistan and around the world. Our public outreach should create a fact-based perception.

It is absolutely important that we take extra care in protecting civilians in our military campaign. I believe it is morally, legally and also imperatively important that we make available necessary compensation to victims. To this end, I propose the establishment of a special trust fund for the victims of terrorism, to be jointly administered by the Afghan Government and NATO.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It would be wrong and counterproductive to send signals of weakness and desperation to our determined enemy. There are fundamental differences between appeasement and capitulation with having an inclusive political process.

We cannot and should not give in to those who are determined to destroy our achievements or to those who are fundamentally and violently opposed to our values, and objectives, or to those terrorists who are used as an instrument of foreign policy. Otherwise, our perceived weakness will only embolden them.

But we should encourage those who share our principal objectives and values and have not been involved in mass violation of human rights to contest for power by democratic and peaceful means.

Our massive efforts to increase investment in rebuilding and reconstruction are another important priority. We should internalize this fundamental message: No security without development, and no development without security. But we need to substantiate this message by massive increase in resource-allocation to Afghanistan.

In this context, providing additional resources to the PRT’s and also improving the efficiency of some of them and to enhance coordination between all of them is very important.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me to say few words about our view of relations with our southern neighbor, the Islamic republic of Pakistan. The two nations are among few countries that enjoy so many common characteristics. We are determined to have a cordial relation with our southern neighbor. In addition to our many common grounds, the realities of a globalizing world command us to move towards further regional cooperation and integration on many fronts.

I am pleased to inform you that Afghanistan has accepted the third regional economic conference on Afghanistan to be held in Pakistan later this year. However, in order to be able to have a cordial relationship, we have to treat each other equally and respectfully as an independent and sovereign nation. Unfortunately, there are forces that seek not an independent Afghanistan but a proxy Afghanistan.

Afghanistan and indeed the international community will not succeed in creating a stable, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan, unless these elements are forcefully, consistently and jointly confronted.

Only a demonstration of will and resolve by the international community can force these elements to recalculate their strategy towards Afghanistan.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As the sad events of September 11 demonstrated, a failed Afghanistan will not only be a disaster for the Afghan nation, but also for the international peace and stability. Neither Afghanistan nor the international community can afford to see once again a failed state and a haven for terrorists. Despite our many remarkable achievements, we should not be complacent.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me conclude my speech by sharing our vision with you. Our vision for Afghanistan is to become a bridge between Islamic World and the family of Pluralistic democracies and to demonstrate to the world that there is no incompatibility between being a Muslim nation and a democratic one, fully committed to the rule of law, human rights, in particular women rights. Strengthening our institutions and maintaining the integrity of the post-Bonn process is pivotal to help the nation to work towards realizing this vision. In particular, we need the sustained and long-term commitment of all members of the international community, especially our democratic partners.

Thank you.