Statement by Mr. Levent Eler, Deputy Permanent Representative of Turkey to the United Nations, at the UN Security Council Debate on Afghanistan

Levent Eler 19.03.2013
Mr. President,

I would like to begin my statement by thanking the Secretary-General for his comprehensive briefing this morning.

Mr. President,

We welcome recent positive signals coming from Afghanistan. As transition is reaching completion, we see promising signs that Afghans are ready to assume responsibility for their future.

We are moving towards the fifth tranche of transition, with 87 percent of the Afghan population already under Afghan security lead. Decline in security related incidents is a positive signal. The capabilities of Afghan security forces are developing. Boosting their capacities and competence further, under a rule of law framework, remains a key priority.

Preparations for the 2014 elections are well underway. We support all efforts towards achieving a democratic and inclusive political process, through independent, free and fair elections, with the participation of political parties and civil society. We commend the efforts of the Independent Election Commission (IEC), UNAMA and UNDP in this regard.

Transition and reconciliation processes are mutually reinforcing. The successful continuation of Afghan-led peace and reconciliation efforts will constitute another important step towards security, stability and political transition. We congratulate progress in this area under the successful guidance of Mr. Rabbani, Head of the Peace Council, as well as UNAMA’s political facilitation efforts. The concrete support by the Government of Pakistan for Afghan peace and reconciliation efforts are noteworthy. Turkey will continue to support this process keeping the best interests of the Afghan people in mind.

Mr. President,

Despite these positive signs, major political, economic and security challenges remain. The security situation continues to be a matter of grave concern, leading to unacceptable human costs. Natural disasters, chronic poverty and development challenges pose grave threats. The most vulnerable segments of the society, especially children, women and girls are under heightened risk. The potential humanitarian and economic consequences of transition are worrisome.

As Afghanistan moves forward towards political and security transition, we must remain in touch with these realities on the ground. We commend the constructive steps taken by the Afghan people government to overcome these problems. The continued display of will from the international community will strenghten the hopes of the Afghan people for the future and help ensure that a smooth transition is underway.

In this regard, we are glad to see increased efforts to move to substantive issues in the Tokyo Framework, both from the Afghan government and the international community, to ensure the concrete implementation of mutual commitments. We commend the endorsement of new National Priority Programs and the Aid Management Policy.

Mr. President,

As the international presence is being reduced, regional cooperation is gaining momentum. The Istanbul Process has surpassed all expectations with the speed of its progress. The spirit of regional ownership, the engagement and technical support of UN and its agencies, the interest and support of the international community have made this possible. We are pleased to see the endorsement of implementation plans of six confidence-building measures at the Senior Officials Meeting in Baku on February 6. The next Senior Officials Meeting on 25 March in Kabul will smooth out final details of those CBM implementation plans endorsed in principle. This momentum will be strenghtened even further at the next Ministerial Meeting on 26 April in Almaty, the only meeting scheduled at the foreign Ministers level on Afghanistan for 2013 so far.

Trilateral and quadrilateral initiatives are important tools to foster regional ownership in the Heart of Asia. In this spirit, the Trilateral Summit Process between Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey has contributed to regional dialogue and cooperation through seven meetings since 2007. The last Trilateral meeting, convened in Ankara last December under the theme “Connectivity”, has focused on political dialogue, military and security issues, peace and reconciliation efforts, and economic development and partnership.

Further connectivity will facilitate economic development, stability and self-sustainability. We attach particular importance to the completion and maintenance of local railroad and land routes, the development of regional economic projects, and the enhancement of civil aviation capabilities. We welcome all projects and cooperation efforts to foster further regional connectivity and economic growth. The constructive engagement of Afghanistan’s regional partners will remain key to addressing common challenges such as terrorism, barriers in front of trade and investment, drug-traficking and refugees.

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 the mutual interest of all of us. Turkey will always remain in solidarity with the Afghan people and continue to contribute to a safe, secure and prosperous Afghanistan, as we have done for many decades.

While concluding my words, Mr. President, I would like to voice our strong belief that the UN will continue to play its crucial role following transition. Taking this opportunity, 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 hard-working team.

Thank you.