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Statement by H.E. Dr A. Abdullah Minister of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan at Afghanistan Development Forum - 2005


In the name of God

Your Excellency President Karzai,
Your Excellencies Vice Presidents,
Your Excellencies, Minister Li Zhaoxing and Minister Nazarov,
Honorable Afghan colleagues,
Distinguished heads of delegations and guests,

I would like to thank His Excellency President Karzai for his farsighted and all-encompassing remarks. Three years following the historic Bonn agreement and the establishment of the interim administration, we are witness today to many changes in a different Afghanistan, where hope and opportunities present themselves on a daily basis for every Afghan man, woman and child. The progress that has taken hold in all sectors could not have materialized without the strong will and eagerness of the Afghans as well as the support and generosity of the international community.

But we all realize that in order to continue to build a viable, stable, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan, which is our common stated objective, we have several years of hard work ahead of us. We also realize that we are at a new crossroad, and the choice is ours to either take the path that could lead to a low-grade economy, weak institutions, shaky stability and unmet expectations, or one that promises a robust economy, functional institutions, stable environment that delivers to the people of Afghanistan. As President Karzai has said on several occasions, it is apparent that our success is your success, as we need to continue to assure success for all stakeholders and investors at the global and regional levels.

Together, we have laid the groundwork for sustainable development. Now is the time to accelerate the reconstruction and development processes by enhancing our capacities and deploying the available resources to the priorities important to the Afghan people.

Our partnership started with Tokyo in 2002, and increased in scope with the generous pledges in Berlin in 2004. The donors have taken different approaches and are assisting in various fields to help Afghanistan’s development goals.

Three years later, this ADF presents an opportunity to engage in constructive internal and external consultations to develop an interim National Development Strategy that will build upon principles of the National Development Framework, Securing Afghanistan's Future and the Berlin Work Plan, while continuing to refine our vision for accelerating this country’s development, promoting equitable growth and reducing poverty. Essential to the success of this strategy will be decisions on desired impacts, competing priorities and sequencing.

As a result, we intend to engage in a policy dialogue on our future strategic priorities. We have identified ten themes to be addressed in eight panels, among which poverty reduction, fiscal and monetary stability, counter-narcotics, trust funds, private sector investment, regional co-operation and issues relating to security, justice and political participation will be addressed.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The donor community continues to support our efforts in all of those areas, and in return, last year in Berlin, we agreed to a work plan and monitoring the progress in achieving the benchmarks set. I am happy to tell you that our monitoring results indicate - not dwelling on the details - that we have performed satisfactorily in making progress towards addressing the benchmark targets, with clear achievements in many thematic benchmark areas. The contributions of the United Nations, donor countries, NGOs and other international institutions have been instrumental in all spheres of the work plan. Credit also goes to Afghan institutions and agencies that are meeting the benchmarks.

Following the adoption of the new Constitution, Afghanistan held its historic presidential elections in October of 2004 and legitimized the democratic rule. We are now preparing for the other pillar of the political blueprint by putting together the institutional and legal pieces needed to hold free, fair and secure parliamentary elections in September.

Our commitment to a civil society, human and gender rights, justice, governance and rule of law is unshakable, but requires further efforts through empowerment and functional reforms that fit the Afghan legal and political molds. We have seen great strides taken with freedom of the press and political party activities within the appropriate legal frameworks.

On the security front, the PRT experience under the NATO/ISAF umbrella, with its innovative designs, has been successful and is now growing in scope as it is being adopted by many of our friends in different parts of Afghanistan as part of a peace-building initiative.

The national demobilization, disarmament and reintegration program is being implemented with vigor and much success, as all the targets, including heavy weapons cantonment are being met. As we concentrate on various aspects of reintegration of former combatants, the process is moving forward.

The accelerated training of the Afghan National Army and police constitutes a pivotal development with far-reaching consequences. But the threat of narcotics remains a real reminder that we need to muster all of our means to combat this menace on all fronts, inside Afghanistan, on the smuggling routes and globally at the level of consumer markets. Finding alternative crops and means of livelihood, while we rebuild the shattered lives of rural Afghanistan, are high on our agenda, but let us not forget that relative to the scope of the problem, your contributions can go a very long way to effectively defeat this threat, which feeds corruption, criminality and terrorism.

In this regard and on many other fronts, the role of our neighbors and countries in our region is vital. During this Forum, we look forward to discussing initiatives that would boost our common and shared interests in the context of regional development that are mutually beneficial.

We continue to work on fiscal management and reforms to meet standards, as well as promote private sector activity, institutional and legal reform, which is a cornerstone of our economic growth strategy.

Afghanistan has started its administrative and civil service reform, but more needs to be done to train competent administrators, build up capacity where it is needed, provide higher education opportunities and address the immediate needs of impoverished civil servants.

Honorable friends,

For obvious historical reasons, Afghanistan is lagging behind in many of its economic, social and human development indicators. We are obliged as well as determined to work on poverty reduction and social protection to address the problems associated with acute under-development.

For our efforts and investments to pay off and yield the desired results, we need to re-examine some of our priorities individually and collectively, intensify our dialogue and multilateral engagements to grasp a better understanding of the needs and allocations, and focus on building the country’s infrastructure by accelerating the process.

There are many facets to our commitments and expectations. We are certain that this ADF provides the right context for addressing the issues deemed important to the Afghan people, the Afghan Government and all of you as friends of Afghanistan. We look forward to your active participation in this partnership.

Thank you very much.

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