Adress by H.E. Ambassador Baki İlkin, Permanent Representative of Turkey to the UN, at the UNSC on "The Situation Concerning Afghanistan"

Baki İlkin 19.03.2009
Mr. President,

I would first like to thank Special Representative Kai Eide for his interesting and comprehensive briefing. I also welcome our friend ambassador Tanin of Afghanistan to the Council. We very much appreciate UN's leading role in coordinating the efforts of the international community to assist Afghanistan. We express our full support to UNAMA's endeavors in this direction.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan today is still passing through a critical period. This period brings forward both challenges and opportunities, which are in fact well defined in the Secretary-General's report. We fully agree with his observations and recommendations.

Actually, there is not much discrepancy within the international community as to what needs to be done in Afghanistan to achieve our common objectives. But we are still not where we want to be. For that, resolute and concerted efforts are needed at local, regional and international levels. Given the critical period ahead of us and the broad consensus on the way forward, now is the high time to step up to the occasion and deliver the expectations of Afghanistan.

While doing so, we should always bear in mind that any further deterioration in this country would have broad adverse effects reaching beyond Afghanistan. Therefore, we must not be dismayed by occasional setbacks and always keep a clear perspective as to what we can and should realize collectively.

We must do so in a way that will further strengthen the hopes and expectations of the Afghani people. After all, we should not forget that unless we win the hearts and minds of the Afghan people, peace and stabilization will always be a far objective.

In this regard, there is certainly a need for a comprehensive approach to be put in place including security, governance, rule of law, human rights and social and economic development. All these aspects are interlinked with each other, and as such, the following four areas of priority deserve equal and special attention:

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

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

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

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

Furthermore, in the immediate future, the presidential elections to be held in August will also be of critical importance. These elections should help the democratic process in the country rather than creating new fault lines. For that, it should be well prepared and executed in a free and fair manner. Needless to say, the UN has an important role to play in this regard and we support UNAMA's efforts to that end.

Likewise, regional cooperation is also a must to accomplish our goals in Afghanistan. In the light of recent promising developments in this context, particularly with respect to Afghanistan-Pakistan relations, the international community should encourage and help regional cooperation and the joint endeavors of these countries.

Mr. President,

As a country which has special ties with the region, Turkey has and will be contributing for the improvement of the situation in Afghanistan in every way it can. Apart from our continued support to ISAF and sizeable reconstruction assistance provided through our Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Wardak, a multi-faceted and extensive assistance program is underway.

In this context, in 2008, we redoubled our pledge of development assistance to Afghanistan to 200 million US Dollars. As such, we will focus on more visible projects of direct impact, such as establishing a new university, building a modern training and research hospital, and paving the roads of Kabul.

We decided to contribute 1.5 million Euros to the Afghan National Army Trust Fund. Our existing training programs, both in Turkey and in Wardak, designed to support the Afghan National Police will continue. We will also contribute a total of $ 5 million US Dollars for the elections in Afghanistan.

Furthermore, as part of our efforts to enhance regional cooperation, Turkey-Pakistan-Afghanistan Trilateral Process is geared towards helping develop closer relations and mutually beneficial cooperation between these countries. Turkey has hosted the first Trilateral Summit with the participation of the Presidents of Afghanistan and Pakistan in April 2007, which culminated in the Ankara Declaration. A Joint Working Group has been established at the Ankara Summit to work on various cooperation projects. The Second Trilateral Summit was held in Istanbul on December 5, 2008. The process has already come a long way and we are committed to take it further. In this framework, we intend to host a third summit soon.

Mr. President,

In conclusion, I would like to underline once again that failure is unthinkable in Afghanistan. We must succeed and we are confident that we will. Indeed, the sense of purpose and dedication around this table and within the international community at large gives us every reason to be optimistic.

We also believe that the high-level meetings in Moscow and the Hague later this month will provide us with excellent opportunities to demonstrate our collective will and commitment once again.

Turkey is more than ready and willing to join this endeavor and do its fair share. In other words, we will not stop assisting the brotherly Afghan people in their struggle to carry their country forward. After so many decades of conflict, they deserve to live in democracy, peace, prosperity and stability. And we have full confidence in the determination, resilience and wisdom of the Afghan people in their struggle to achieve this goal.

Thank you.