Statement by Ambassador Baki İlkin, Permanent Representative of Turkey to the UN, in the Open Debate of the Security Council on the Situation in Afghanistan

Baki İlkin 12.03.2008
Mr. President,

Turkey has already aligned itself with the EU statement. Therefore, I will refer to a few issues which, in our opinion, deserve particular attention.

First and foremost, we all have to remind ourselves that we are not failing in Afghanistan. Yes, we are not yet where we would like to be. And it is obvious that fully achieving our objectives will take longer than we initially expected. But that does not mean that we are on the losing side. After all, we are talking about a country which has been devastated by violent wars for decades. No one should expect a fast and easy recovery. What is important is to be able to remain committed and take up with full determination every challenge and opportunity as they present themselves.

This is extremely important. For those who want to take Afghanistan back to its dark days aspire to do so mainly by weakening our resolve. They are hoping that, by maintaining a foothold in the country and thus slowing down the progress, the international community will fatigue itself out and eventually abandon Afghanistan to its fate.

Allowing this to happen would be a disaster. Particularly when one considers that Afghanistan is one of the top priorities for the entire international community. Indeed, a failure there would be seen as the failure of everything we stand for.

In this regard, we should not allow ourselves to be carried away by the events of the day, but should be able to see the general trends. Because, though they may be modest, it is those positive trends in many areas ranging from education to healthcare that contain elements enabling us to look forward to a bright future for Afghanistan.

Having said all these, can we then just be content with the way we are proceeding? Of course not. There is certainly no room for complacency. On the contrary, because of the very reasons I just mentioned, we must be ever more determined, active and vigilant. The challenges facing us are tremendous and a setback in any one of them can deal a serious blow to our collective efforts to bring about stability and prosperity in Afghanistan.

To understand these challenges, one should look nowhere else than the Secretary-General's recent report. We fully agree not only with the observations set out in the report but also with its recommendations, in particular as to the need for a common approach that integrates security, governance, rule of law, human rights and social and economic development. For that, there needs to be a strong partnership between the Afghan Government, the UN, NATO and the rest of the international community under strict Afghani ownership and leadership.

Also, the Afghanistan National Development Strategy and the Afghanistan Compact should continue to be the foundations of our efforts. In this frame of mind, we also don't think that we need any new strategies or expanded mandates to address the current challenges. We all know what needs to be done and we should now be able to carry on with a robust and effective implementation phase.

At this critical stage, there is no doubt that the UN has a key role to play in leading the efforts of the international community. Here again, we are in full agreement with the priority areas identified in the Secretary-General's report for UNAMA's activities. In particular, the need for enhanced coordination and political outreach remains essential for the success of this approach. We hope that the UNSC resolution, which will be adopted next week to extend the mandate of UNAMA, reflect those very pertinent points.

Taking this opportunity allow me also to extend our heartfelt congratulations to newly appointed Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Kai Eide. We are confident that under his able leadership the UNAMA will effectively deliver what is expected of itself. In this challenging endeavor, Turkey will lend him every support.

In fact, Turkey has already made extensive contributions to security and development in Afghanistan as evident by, among others, our significant support to ISAF and sizeable reconstruction assistance rendered mainly through our PRT in Vardak And we will continue our efforts unrelentingly by exploring every opportunity so as to bring an added value.

To this end, and just to give an example, we are now providing emergency humanitarian assistance to the Afghani people hard hit by severe winter conditions and the extreme rise in food prices. Besides, we are also determined to take forward the trilateral cooperation process we spearheaded between Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey.

Before concluding, I should like to reiterate once again Turkey's strong commitment to Afghanistan's stability, security and prosperity. As one Afghan diplomat once told me, Turkey is the closest neighbor of Afghanistan without common borders. Therefore, we are resolved to act in keeping with the responsibilities of this privileged status.

Thank you.