Statement by H.E. Ambassador Ertuğrul Apakan, Permanent Representative of Turkey to the UN, at the UN General Assembly on "The Situation in Afghanistan"

Ertuğrul Apakan 09.11.2009
Mr. President,

Let me begin by expressing our satisfaction with the draft resolution that the General Assembly intends to adopt this morning. We would like to thank Germany for facilitating a consensus on it. We are happy to be co-sponsoring it. It is a balanced document reflecting achievements as well as challenges in Afghanistan.

I would like to share with you Turkey's position on the situation in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is passing through a critical period. Turkey is hopeful for the future of Afghanistan. The situation may be difficult, and we have to continue working to assist our Afghan brothers and sisters.

The deliberate terrorist attacks to the UN during the recent electoral process should not deter us. It should only strengthen our determination to assist the Afghan people establish lasting peace and stability. Turkey condemns the terrorist attack to the UN on 28 October in strongest terms. We extend our condolences to the UN family and the families of the victims. We wish quick recovery to the wounded. We salute the courage of the UN and Afghan staff. We also share the grief of the Afghan people.

The continuation of a strong UN presence is of utmost importance for the success in Afghanistan. At this juncture, we must continue to support the UN Secretary General by every means, first and foremost with the staff security.

Mr. President,

Turkey trusts that the Afghani people would sooner or later achieve a peaceful and prosperous future. In this vein, the elections were an important threshold in the efforts in the fight against terrorism and securing stability in Afghanistan.

Elections were crucial. Everybody knew that it would not be easy. The most important thing is that the second elections in such a big country were held. Each election experience undoubtedly constitutes a step in strengthening democracy. Thanks to the courage and determination of the Afghan people, in the face of difficult conditions elections were held. Turkey congratulates President Karzai for being re-elected and hopes that the coming period will be better for the Afghan people.

Now the elections are over, the new administration should embrace the whole nation. Turkey wishes that the new administration will reach out to all ethnic groups in the country through inclusive policies and that all who competed against President Karzai in the elections will offer their support to the new administration.

Following the election process, it is of great importance for Afghanistan to refocus on national unity and reconstruction efforts as soon as possible.

Mr. President,

Let me also touch upon briefly on the Turkish-Afghan relations. Our relations with Afghanistan are unique. They are based on deep historical and cultural bonds.

We continue Turkey's most comprehensive humanitarian operation.

We are participating in ISAF. We took over the ISAF Kabul Command as of 1 November for a period of one year. We almost doubled our troop contribution on this occasion.

We have a civilian-led PRT in Wardak.

Turkey has already been implementing an intensive assistance program for the peace and prosperity of the Afghan people. We intend to further expand our humanitarian operations. Building the capacity of Afghanistan and strengthening national ownership in the civilian sector is a priority.

Turkey will also continue to do its utmost to provide support to the efforts of the UN in Afghanistan.

We will be the lead country in the UN Security Council in Afghanistan in 2010. We intend to build up on the positive momentum created by Japan with the assistance of the UN and contribute to stability in Afghanistan through the UN Security Council as well.

Mr. President,

Turkey believes that in the long run there is a need for a comprehensive approach including security, governance, rule of law, human rights and social and economic development. All of them are interlinked.

Therefore, the following four areas deserve special attention:

a) A comprehensive economic development with a visible impact on the living conditions of the people,

b) A strong Afghan military and police to take the lead and ownership of national security,

c) An inclusive national reconciliation that will consolidate peace and stability in the country,

d) A modern education and justice system to effectively combat extremism of all sorts.

Regional cooperation is also a must to accomplish our goals in Afghanistan. The international community should encourage and help regional cooperation. For our part, we hosted Turkey-Afghanistan-Pakistan Third Trilateral Summit in April in Turkey: security and intelligence officials met first time along side the presidents of three countries.

We hosted the Friends of Democratic Pakistan Senior Officials meeting and the Foreign Ministerial Meeting on 24-25 August 2009 in Istanbul followed by the Afghanistan-Pakistan Special Envoys meeting.

We support a coordinated approach at the regional level and enhanced cooperation between Afghanistan and its neighbors. To this end, we will continue our regional efforts in order to contribute to stability in the region.

Mr. President,

Turkey is confident that the country's stability as well as its social and political harmony will grow stronger in the coming period. Turkey will always stand by the friendly and brotherly Afghan people and fully trusts that they will surmount the difficulties confronting them in unity and solidarity.

We must strengthen the hopes and expectations of the Afghan people as well. Unless the international community wins hearts and minds of the Afghan people, peace and stabilization will always be a far objective.

Failure is not an option in Afghanistan. We must succeed. We are confident that we will.

Thank you.