Partial transcript of joint press conference with the Secretary-General, President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan and Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema of Italy at the Italian Foreign Ministry
Rome, 3 July 2007[Opening statement by Massimo D'Alema]
SG: Thank you very much Mr. Minister, President Karzai; ladies and gentlemen of the press. Good evening.
It's a great pleasure to participate in this very significant historic conference on rule of law in Afghanistan in my capacity as Secretary-General of the United Nations. I am very privileged to co-host, together with the Italian and Afghan governments, this very important initiative. I'd like to take this opportunity to appreciate and commend the initiative of the Italian government: this commitment is a reaffirmation of the Italian government, not only for peace and security of Afghanistan, but also is a reaffirmation of Italy's constant contribution and active participation to all activities and agendas of the United Nations. At the same time I'm here to pay my high tribute and respect to President Karzai for his dynamic leadership from which the Afghan Government is establishing a democratic tradition as well as a rule of law. This conference has shown that while Afghanistan's government and its people are going through these very noble, but daunting challenges, the international community should fully cooperate and support this government and these people's efforts. The United Nations will continue to stand behind them through such challenges that this government is going through. This conference has shown that the international community should speak in one voice together with Afghanistan's people. Among our many challenges are security, social and political; we need more democratic progress; more protection of human rights; we need more education, particularly enhancing women's status; we need to do more in terms of good governance in eradicating and fighting terrorism, as well as fighting against all these corrupt practices which are prevalent in your country [turning to President Karzai]
The establishment of the rule of law is the foundation of all good governance, all democratic institutions, and all good economic and social development. I'm quite confident, and I'm also positively encouraged by the strong support of the international community, financially and politically, to the country and the people of Afghanistan. The United Nations has been, and will continue to increase its presence in Afghanistan in close coordination with the Afghan Government and other major stakeholders – NATO, ISAF, the major powers and the surrounding countries. Reflecting what has been expressed in this conference, I would expect from President Karzai more efforts to carry on your [turning to President Karzai] democratic establishment and lawful good governance and to bring your country to democratic institutions.
Thank you very much, and I wish you all a very good day.
[President Karzai opening statement]
[Question to President Karzai]
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, you went to Kabul, you saw Afghanistan, and today in this conference also, you realize that in the last five years much could have been done to help Afghanistan – in fact, one figure says that the Afghan judicial system only received 3% of the entire money that was sent to help Afghanistan. As the new Secretary-General, where do you put Afghanistan in your priorities?
SG: As everybody knows, I had a brief visit last Friday in Kabul, I had a very good meeting with President Karzai, with the commander of NATO forces, and with the speaker of Parliament and UN teams. It was a very useful visit before my participation in this very significant conference. I came back from Kabul very much heartened and impressed by the strong determined will of the people and government leaders, including President Karzai, to overcome these difficulties, these daunting challenges for them. Therefore, I think we are here today to help Afghanistan's people. The United Nations and I, as Secretary-General of the United Nations, have been putting this Afghanistan situation on high priority on my agenda. There are still many serious security and political conflicts in Baghdad, in Darfur, in Afghanistan and in Lebanon. I have been trying, when possible, to visit those places myself and understand the concerns and challenges of those people.
Now, how much priority and how many resources are we going to provide to Afghanistan? – I was very much encouraged by the strong financial support today; this is ongoing. I myself participated in an international compact to assist Afghanistan in a forum held in London, of course at the time in a different capacity, not as Secretary-General of the UN. We have been increasing, first of all, the UN's presence in Afghanistan, during recent months; and I'm going to consider seriously what else and how differently the UN can contribute to this country.
Q: [In Italian; on civilian casualties]
[Response by Minister D'Alema]
[Response by President Karzai]
SG: As a Secretary-General of the UN I'm very much saddened and troubled by this increasing number of civilian casualties. When I was in Kabul and in Rome, I met with the commanding general of NATO in Kabul and the Secretary-General of NATO, respectively. I raised to both leaders the fact that civilian casualties are not acceptable, and I was assured by both that they will take every possible precautionary measure to avoid such civilian casualties in the future. Their problem, which I understand, is that the insurgents – the Taliban and terrorists – are trying to stay behind the general population and the common people, which sometimes can make it very difficult for the military operations. However difficult it may be, civilian casualties should be avoided and the military commanders should take all possible measures in cross-coordination with the government agencies and with the local leaders. This is what I emphasized as Secretary-General of the United Nations, and I have already answered, I think, on the increased role of the UN. And, as I just said, I tried to increase my diplomatic role in discussing with the leaders in the regional countries how to help the government's efforts to first of all eradicate this terrorism, and how to help with the monitoring and the border's security, and many other issues. The country of Afghanistan has been under very difficult and dangerous circumstances in which to act to provide the necessary humanitarian assistance to the people.
[Question to President Karzai]