20 November 2013
Statement by H.E. Ambassador Khazaee Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran
to the United Nations under agenda item 37: “The Situation in Afghanistan”
Before the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
New York, 20 November 2013
In the Name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful
Please check against delivery.
At the outset let me begin by thanking you for convening this annual meeting of the General Assembly to review the progress made in building a secure, stable and prosperous Afghanistan.
I would also like to thank the Secretary-General for his report, and appreciate as well, Mr. Ján Kubiš, Special Representative of Secretary-General for Afghanistan and Head of UNAMA, for his comprehensive assessment of the situation in Afghanistan.
A short look at the developments in Afghanistan during the past several years is indicative of the following facts:
first) significant progress is made in the political, economic, social and development areas in Afghanistan;
second) the general trend for reconstruction and reconciliation in Afghanistan is positive and efforts are on the right track;
third) the United Nations and the international community of States, in particular the neighboring countries of Afghanistan, are resolute in their strong long-term commitment to a secure, stable and prosperous Afghanistan and its sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity; and
fourth) a number of remaining challenges in Afghanistan and the interconnected nature of these challenges require more efforts of Afghan Government, coupled with the strong support of the international community.
In the year 2014, two significant events, namely the presidential and provincial council elections and the announced withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan, are crucial in shaping the future of that country.
Successful elections in 2014 are indeed essential in enhancing political stability and national unity of Afghanistan and its advancement in all other areas.
While supporting the efforts of Afghanistan Government in well organizing these elections, we hope that the active participation of all Afghans in these elections helps enhance the unity and harmony of all segments of the Afghan population.
We also call for the continued international and regional support for holding free and fair elections in Afghanistan in 2014.
In the political context, the Islamic Republic of Iran supports peace and national reconciliation efforts of the Afghan Government.
We emphasize the importance of full observance of Afghanistan’s Constitution and the need to adhere to the principle of an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation process.
Any effort towards this goal should be undertaken without any external pressure or interference or appearing to be rewarding the advocates of extremist policies or the perpetrators of terrorist acts.
I should also emphasize that the United Nations, including through its Assistance Mission, should continue its active role in Afghanistan in post-2014.
Like in any other country, security is a prerequisite for the success of efforts in all areas in Afghanistan. Therefore, enhancing the security of Afghanistan should continue to be the highest priority.
In our view, the complete withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan in 2014 should be followed by the strong support of the international community in equipping Afghan forces commensurate with the existing security threats, in particular by terrorists, illegal armed groups and organized criminals.
In this context, I would like to stress that a special attention should be paid to combating the interlinked sources of insecurity and instability in Afghanistan, in particular the production of and trade in narcotic drugs as the financial source of terrorist, extremist and illegal armed groups.
In addition to supporting Afghan Government in this regard, continued international support for the triangular counter-narcotics initiative between Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan is essential.
This is vital, not only to strengthen the security and stability of Afghanistan, but also to alleviate the serious concerns of neighboring States and transit and destination countries of drug trafficking.
To control its nearly 1000 kilometer of common borders with Afghanistan as a major transit route of narcotic drugs from Afghanistan to Europe, the Islamic Republic of Iran spends over 600 million US dollars annually. Moreover, over the past years, almost 4000 of the Iranian law enforcement force personnel have been martyred in fighting against drug smugglers.
Taking into account the rise in the opium poppy cultivation, as well as the advanced techniques used by drug traffickers, Iran cannot sustain this trend without the strong support of international community, including through supplying adequate advanced border control technologies.
To contribute to the regional efforts in combating drug trafficking and its associated challenges, a regional training workshop on anti-money-laundering, illegal financial flows and suspect cash transactions was held in Tehran in July this year, bringing together senior experts from Afghanistan and its neighboring countries.
Moreover, Iran hosted the Seventh Regional Financial Intelligence Unit meeting to enhance regional cooperation in tackling money-laundering and suspicious financial transactions. The aim is to facilitate a common instrument to improve information exchange of suspicious transactions, including to tackle the profits of drug trafficking.
Unfortunately, millions of Afghan refugees still continue to live in host countries due, in part, to inadequate international support for the betterment of the conditions for their return.
Iran stresses the importance of meeting the reasonable needs of repatriated refugees in Afghanistan to enhance the trend of voluntary repatriation.
Currently, there are over 1.5 million Afghan refugees in Iran, the majority of whom reside in urban areas and are assisted with their basic needs and essential services.
Despite unilateral economic and financial sanctions imposed on Iran, my country has continuously tried to improve the health status of the refugee population across the country, among others, through their access to free primary health care. At least 80 per cent of the refugee population benefit from health insurance.
Likewise, in the educational field, currently, 320,000 Afghan students are studying at schools and 8000 in universities in Iran. My country spends over 400 Million US dollars annually for educational program of Afghan refugees. As a result, over the years the literacy rate of Afghan refugees has been increased from 6 to 70 per cent.
While making every effort for the voluntary repatriation of Afghan refugees, Iran calls upon the international community to allocate necessary and adequate funds for the development of educational and health environments, facilities and equipments for Afghan refugees in Iran, pending their repatriation.
Sustained and comprehensive economic development in Afghanistan is critical, not only for providing the conducive grounds for the repatriation of refugees and combating the challenges such as the production of and trade in narcotic drugs, but also for achieving the long-term security and stability in that country.
In this regard, we stress the need for paying special attention to building economic infrastructure of Afghanistan.
While considerable commitments for the reconstruction and economic development of Afghanistan were made at the major international and regional conferences on Afghanistan during the past several years, they need to be fully implemented.
As an active player in the reconstruction of Afghanistan’s economy, the Islamic Republic of Iran has granted 500 million US dollars for various projects in Afghanistan and supported and implemented many projects in the areas such as roads, railways, energy, mining and agriculture.
Building a secure, stable and prosperous Afghanistan is indeed crucial, not only for the future of the Afghan people, but also for enhancing peace and stability in the region and of course the world in general. Therefore, there is a need for more coherent and coordinated regional efforts to ensure the sustainable socio-economic development of Afghanistan.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is engaged in a number of important regional initiatives on Afghanistan including to promote economic cooperation.
As an active participant in the Heart of Asia and Istanbul processes, Iran welcomes the adoption of plans on confidence-building measures between Afghanistan and its neighboring countries.
As a lead country for educational confidence-building measures within the Heart of Asia Process, this year Iran hosted two meetings of the relevant working group.
In conclusion, I would like to stress that Afghanistan is passing through an important phase in its history. The Afghan people are inspired by the prospect of a future free from violence and war. This nation deserves our help in taking full charge of its destiny. We are looking forward to the consensus adoption of draft resolution A/68/L.11 which indeed is a good signal indicating that the international community of States is united in support of the Afghan people.
I thank you Mr. President.