Statement by H.E. Ertuğrul Apakan, Permanent Representative of Turkey to the United Nations, at the Security Council Briefing on Afghanistan

Ertuğrul Apakan 18.03.2010
Mr. President,

At the outset, I would like to thank the Secretary-General H.E. Mr. Ban-ki Moon for his report and the Under Secretary General Mr. Alain Le Roy for his comprehensive briefing. We welcome the new Special Representative of the Secretary-General Mr. Steffan de Mistura and wish him success. I also welcome Ambassador of Afghanistan to the Council.

We would like to commend the report which provides a detailed outlook. We agree with its contents and the observations. The speed of developments unfolding regarding Afghanistan did not change in the past months. I, therefore, wish to emphasize four points: Afghan leadership, strengthening of UNAMA and its mandate, regional cooperation and civilian approach.

Firstly, the international community has started to approach the current challenges with a new perspective. This year is critical. London Conference is an important turning point. The key word will be the Afghan leadership in the period ahead. Afghan leadership should be supported by the international community by all means possible. The gap between the Afghan and international perceptions should be minimized. There should be a new beginning. We should empower the Afghan administration. A political process is necessary. The UN should have a central role.
Parliamentary elections in September 2010 will be part of this process. The new administration should embrace the whole nation in the period towards elections. It should focus on national unity and reconstruction efforts. It should reach out to all ethnic groups through inclusive policies. What Afghanistan needs now is strengthening the democratic values and an efficient state mechanism to fight against several problems including misconduct.

There is a need for a comprehensive approach. It should include security, governance, rule of law, human rights and social and economic development. It should not be limited to only military means. Four areas need special attention:

- a comprehensive economic development,
- a strong and well-trained Afghan military and police and equipping them,
- an inclusive national reconciliation, and
- a modern education and justice system to effectively combat extremism.

Secondly, this comprehensive approach is directly linked with a strong UN. The role of UNAMA should be strengthened in order to better serve the Afghan people. For this reason, we are trying to incorporate the needs of the UN to its currently negotiated new mandate. As the lead country in the Council, we hope to reach a consensus and finalize the discussions on the UNAMA mandate renewal after this debate so that it can be adopted next Monday.

On the other hand, we all need to help the UN to address its security requirements. The continuation of a strong UN presence is of utmost importance not only in the transit period we will pass through, but even beyond. We, therefore, should all support the Secretary General in his efforts to this end.

Thirdly, regional cooperation and dialogue should be enhanced. Turkey hosted the Fourth Turkey-Afghanistan-Pakistan Trilateral Summit in January with a focus on education. We also hosted the Istanbul Summit with the participation of neighbours of Afghanistan. The Istanbul Statement is the first manifestation of the region since the Kabul Declaration of 2002 to emphasize regional ownership. We believe it provides a solid basis to enhance regional cooperation. Regional cooperation was also discussed in the London Conference. On another note, Turkey will also host the Fourth Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA) in Turkey this year.

Fourthly, we would like to stress upon the importance of increasing the civilian efforts in the period ahead. The transition of responsibilities to the Afghan authorities should not be understood as an exit strategy. On the contrary, international community should increase its civilian presence. In this context, we especially would like to draw the attention to the relevant section of the Secretary General's report (paragraph 19), on the situation in areas where stability is fragile because of lack of equitable distribution of development aid.

We will continue our efforts to fill this gap. I would like to inform the Council that at the PRT Conference held in Kabul two days ago, Turkey announced the establishment of a new Turkish PRT in Şıbırgan, provincial capital of Cevizcan, upon the request of the Afghan Government. Our new PRT will also cover Sarıpul province. We already finished our domestic legislative requirements, appointed a senior diplomat as the PRT leader and a site survey was conducted last week. We plan to reach operational capability in May. The Turkish civilian-led PRT will be based on the successful experience of our first PRT in Wardak. It will assume responsibility for health, education and development efforts in close coordination with the Afghan authorities. It will bring additional civilian capacity to these two provinces and complement the ongoing development efforts in that region. It will also be ready to assist the Afghan capacity building efforts in the field of security through training of the Afghan National Police.

Finally, Mr. President, we would like to reiterate that in addition to our diplomatic efforts, Turkey will continue its comprehensive contributions in Afghanistan in cooperation with the UN.

Thank you Mr. President.