G-8 Regional Meeting on Afghanistan Is Chance to Move beyond Political Affirmation to Concrete Projects, Initiatives, Says Secretary-General

26 June 2009
SG/SM/12338-AFG/330

G-8 Regional Meeting on Afghanistan Is Chance to Move beyond Political Affirmation to Concrete Projects, Initiatives, Says Secretary-General

26 June 2009
Secretary-General
SG/SM/12338 AFG/330
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

G-8 REGIONAL MEETING ON AFGHANISTAN IS CHANCE TO MOVE BEYOND POLITICAL

AFFIRMATION TO CONCRETE PROJECTS, INITIATIVES, SAYS SECRETARY-GENERAL

Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the G-8 informal regional meeting on Afghanistan, in Trieste, today, 26 June:

I thank the Government of Italy for convening this important meeting.  I also express my great appreciation to the leaders and delegations that are here today to show their commitment to building a strong partnership between Afghanistan and its neighbors, including Pakistan, Iran and the Central Asian States, and with the broader international community.

We all recognize the interconnected nature of the security challenges confronting Afghanistan.

The activities of drug traffickers, organized criminals and terrorist groups transcend borders.  Drugs flow out of Afghanistan, and weapons and chemicals flow in.  Foreign banks launder the proceeds.

These ills bring violence into the lives of everyday Afghans.  They undermine confidence in institutions and create serious impediments to development.  They pose a major danger to the region and the world at large.  There can be little question that we have a shared responsibility to deal with these threats.

I am encouraged that Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan recently undertook their first joint counter-narcotics operation.  This was an important political and operational step towards building confidence and good relations.  The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime is ready to help the countries of the region strengthen border security measures, which would greatly disrupt money laundering and the illicit drug trade.

I am also pleased to see that the international community is paying closer attention to the regional dimension of these challenges.  Recent meetings in Moscow, Tehran, Islamabad, The Hague, and elsewhere have helped to establish priorities for regional action.  I welcome the steps taken by Pakistan and Afghanistan towards closer cooperation.

This meeting is an opportunity to move beyond political affirmation to concrete projects and initiatives.  We should bring to this effort the same sense of urgency we are already bringing to efforts to improve the security situation.

Confidence-building in border management is essential for advancing trade and legal movements of people.  Combating organized criminal groups can open space for legitimate economic activity.

So can fighting illicit opium production, as long as it is done in conjunction with increasing productivity in traditional agricultural commodities.

The United Nations Assistance Mission is assisting Afghanistan in the political arena, in promoting economic and social development, and through the provision of humanitarian assistance.  One main focus is to establish an environment conducive to ensuring the creditability of the upcoming elections. 

I urge the international community to continue supporting this work, through political engagement as well as economic investment.  The region has a wealth of local expertise and know-how.  Our efforts should recognize these untapped resources.

I know we all consider this to be a critical year for Afghanistan.  The international community is trying to readjust and re-energize its engagement.  We must work coherently at all levels.  For regional efforts to succeed, they must be initiated, planned and implemented in consultation with the Afghan Government and the country’s people.

It is they who have suffered so grievously from political upheaval, natural disaster and many other misfortunes.  And it is they who hope to move irreversibly along a new path, towards a new vision for their future.

Strengthening cooperation on counter-trafficking and border management is crucial for realizing that vision and for achieving stability in Afghanistan, the region and well beyond.

I look forward to working with you to uphold our responsibilities in this work -– and to ensure strong follow-up to the decisions taken here.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.