Statement by H.E. Ambassador Ertuğrul Apakan Permanent Representative of Turkey to the UN at the UN Security Council Debate on Afghanistan

Ertuğrul Apakan 20.09.2012
Mr. President,
Let me begin by thanking SRSG Jan Kubis for his comprehensive briefing on the report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Afghanistan. I would also like to warmly welcome His Excellency Foreign Minister Dr. Rassoul to New York, and thank him for his insightful statement.

Mr. President,
Afghanistan stands at an important crossroads today. As responsibilities are handed over to Afghan authorities at an accelerated phase, significant political, economic and security challenges remain, many of which have been highlighted in the SRSG’s insightful briefing. Tackling these challenges and building a sustainable, stable Afghanistan is crucial not only for the future of the Afghan people, but also for peace and stability in the sub-continent, Asia and the world. From our point of view, there are three key pillars which will determine the result of the transition and transformation process.

Mr. President,
The first pillar is the international community’s approach to Afghanistan. A strong display of will from the international community will strenghten the hopes of the Afghan people for the future. From this perspective, we welcome the pledge of continued commitment to the country’s future stability and prosperity in the Transformation Decade in the Chicago and Tokyo Conferences.
While we are moving on to the implementation phase of this framework based on mutual pledges and commitments, we must remain in touch with the realities and developments on the ground. Meanwhile, the continued engagement of the UN in Afghanistan in all fields, during the period of transition and post-transition is crucial. We believe that this is also the wish of the Afghan people.

Mr. President,
The second pillar is strenghthening the Afghan government and moving towards local ownership. The Afghan government and people are at the center of the transformation process. Empowering them is essential. This is only possible through improving governance and the rule of law. We welcome the pledges of the Afghan government following the Tokyo Conference in this direction. Ensuring the concrete implementation of these pledges with the support of the international community will be a pressing issue in the upcoming months.

Elections are another key element of providing smooth transition and local ownership. Preparations are already underway to ensure that the upcoming elections are held in a just, fair and free manner. We would like the commend the efforts of Afghan and international actors in the area, in particular the Independent Election Commission (IEC), UNAMA and UNDP. We also recognize positive steps taken towards democratization in the past years.

Finally, a comprehensive peace and reconciliation process under the leadership and ownership of Afghanistan is vital. Turkey will continue to support this process in every way possible, with the best interests of the Afghan people in mind.

Mr. President,
The third pillar is the regional dimension. The role of Afghanistan’s regional partners in establishing and sustaining a secure, prosperous and peaceful Afghanistan is crucial. Sustained regional engagement remains key to addressing common challenges such as terrorism, barriers in front of trade and investment, illicit drugs and refugees.
The Istanbul Process, which aims to find creative, comprehensive and pragmatic solutions to regional issues, has become an important milestone in this respect. As you all know, the Istanbul Process, aiming “Afghan leadership and regional ownership”, aspires to collectively enhance political dialogue amonsgt all “Heart of Asia” countries in a result-oriented and practical framework. The Process recognizes Afghanistan’s crucial role and historical position in promoting connectivity and cooperation across the Heart of Asia. Indeed, as Mr. SRSG has pointed out, Istanbul Process helps define regional assistance based on mutual self-interest.
We are extremely pleased that the Istanbul Process is moving towards the “phase of development and implementation”, based on the framework accepted in the Kabul Ministerial Conference on June 14, 2012. Several follow-up meetings were held in the aftermath of the Conference, in the format of Senior Officials, Kabul-based Ambassadors and technical level working groups. The next Senior Officials meeting will be held here in New York on September 24.

Turkey, which co-leads the Counter-Terrorism confidence building measure with Afghanistan and the United Arab Emirates, has hosted a technical working group meeting on September 3 in Ankara. The follow-up meeting has taken place in UAE on September 18. We are also glad to see the concrete progress in other key CBM’s, underlining the regions’s commitment to the Istanbul Process. Pakistan will be hosting the meeting on Disaster Management on 20-21 September in Islamabad. India is convening a technical level meeting on the “Chambers of Commerce” CBM today in New Delhi. The Counter-Narcotics CBM, led by the Russian Federation and Azerbaijan, will serve as a crucial tool to further efforts in combatting illicit drugs. There is concrete progress and regional commitment on all other CBM’s, fostering the spirit of regional cooperation.

Mr. President,
As Afghanistan’s regional and international partners, we should spare no effort to contribute to the vision of a secure, peaceful and self-sufficient Afghanistan. This is to the benefit of us all. Turkey will remain committed to the vision of a safe, secure and prosperous Afghanistan. To this end, Turkey will always remain in solidarity with the Afghan people.

While concluding my words, Mr. President, I would like to voice our strong support to the crucial role played by the UN in Afghanistan. I would particularly like to commend the valuable efforts of the UN, and UNAMA in particular, in taking the Istanbul Process further and express our heartfelt gratitude to SRSG Kubis and his team.
Thank you.