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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Off-the-Cuff

The Secretary-General's remarks to Afghan media on the occasion of the Bonn Conference on Afghanistan

Bonn, Germany, 4 December 2011

SG: Thank you. Salam aleikum. It is a great pleasure to meet all distinguished journalists. I arrived this afternoon and I had a very good meeting with President Karzai, and just now I had about an hour long meeting with the civil society leaders. It has been quite useful and inspiring to hear their concerns and voices and their aspirations how and what they really want, how they are going to shape the future of Afghanistan. We are in a very historically crucially important timing, transiting to a more responsible more [inaudible] by Afghan people and [inaudible] transforming your society.

I think this is only natural progression.

Afghan people and Government have suffered too much and too long in fighting against [inaudible] and international terrorism, international community also suffered a lot of sacrifices in the course of fighting against this terrorism. Now is the right time and I think this vision by [inaudible] President Karzai is a proper one at this time. By 2014, Afghan Government and people will be able to shape their own future under their own responsibility, this should be Afghan-led, Afghan owned process toward a better more secure more prosperous world. This is what we support.

More than a 100 member states and organizations are going to participate in tomorrow's conference. They have been many historic milestone meetings, conferences starting from the 2001 Bonn conference, now this is exactly 10th anniversary. In-between there are many such meetings where I have been participating. [Inaudible] is more important rather than all these conferences than all these recommendations and declarations should be implemented and delivered [inaudible] to people.

It will be a very difficult coming few years but please know that you are not alone, you will be supported by the United Nations you will be supported by all the international community.

The theme of this conference 'transition to transformation' is quite appropriate that means the Afghan people and Government are now engaging more proactively with the international community. That again means you are going to assume your responsibility and security in development then I''d like to just tell you as I have already repeated in my press conference with the German Foreign Minister. My first message is that there should be a fundamental link between security and development.

Now is the time for the Afghan Government to strengthen your capacity of your institutions your national armed forces, your national police and other administrative institutions enhance good governance and eradicate all these corruptive practices that have been prevalent in your country and establish rule of law, eradicate and fight against this drug trafficking, promote basic human rights and dignity and provide all dignified lives to the people.

Thirdly I think this is also very important promote and protect the human rights and basic needs of women and girls, half of your population are women. Without fully utilizing, without fully empowering the women of your society, how can they expect the development of society or political stability and you should have [inaudible] based on dialogue and consensus.

There are many different ideas and different groups all these should be overcomed then some flexibility and compromise for the better and greater wellbeing, greater things of your country. The United Nations will always be with you during this transition and beyond 2014. And I heard from civil society leaders that there should be an even greater role to be played by the United Nations but basically and ultimately it is Afghan people who have to lead this process and your role as media journalists are very important. You have the tools to educate and inform the people and you have the role to connect your people with international community, your people with United Nations.

Without your role it will be very difficult but you are taking a very active role delivering correct and true stories and educated stories will help this process much more accelerate and much more smoothly progressing and I really count on your support on this matter. Thank you very much, and I will be happy to receive questions.

Q: Excellencies, Secretary-General, I belong to a non-state media in Afghanistan and as you mentioned the [inaudible] consultation is to work on very important issues in the coming days since if there is no stability and peace no sector actors can develop. But now the issue is that the process is going on since last almost more than six years in the [inaudible] case and after that the Peace High Commission was from last year but in all these periods you don''t see any desirable results and many believe that Mr. Karzai doesn''t have that capacity and after the depth of [inaudible] and many believe that he doesn''t have the credibility too. And there are other independent voices in Afghanistan who are raising objection about the intentions of Mr. Karzai and his approach is not comprehensive. So they are asking more supervision from the United Nations that to control this process since Mr. Karzai is not delivering in all sectors of life. So what do you say about that?

SG: The process might have been frustrating, as you said you have not had much tangible results out of this reconciliation process but I believe that this reconciliation process should owned and led by Afghan people. We will always be there to facilitate this process. I believe President Karzai he has vision, he has commitment to promote reconciliation. Unfortunately the tragic death of former President Rabbani was a setback, very tragic but you cannot just sit and regret what has happened already you have to move ahead that is what I delivered my own message was to strongly urge President Karzai to move ahead [inaudible] he is ready to provide some technical assistance based on our experience and know how's. He has established this solemn support group and President also has established a High Peace Council and this right time now as you are going to assume greater responsibility that without reconciliation, it will be extremely difficult so there should be a dialogue based on the mutual understanding and compromise regardless of what you believe in and this after all is your country and you should lead this process. The UN will always be standing behind you supporting your efforts.

Q: What's the most important topic of the conference and what are your expectations from the neighbours countries such as Iran?

SG: Well there are many important aspects and agendas this conference can achieve, basically we are not going to have any different process, any new process but this will be one of the very important processes going toward a right direction, toward greater responsibility, even full responsibility by Afghan people for your own security for your own development. Based upon what had already been agreed on two years ago. We started with process last month and we will build upon this. The relationship with neighbouring countries is very important. That is one of the important factors which you can make progress in reconciliation and also peace and security and development. You read that the Pakistani delegation has decided not to come but that doesn''t mean that Pakistan is not committed. I believe that Pakistan is committed to work together with the Afghan people and also to promote peace and security in the region and this is mutual interest and you should also have closer cooperation with many Central Asian countries and now that you mentioned Iran, this also has become a source of concerns, I have urged the members of the international community particularly this E3 process [inaudible] to continue to engage with the Iranians for the resolution of all these nuclear issues and we should also engage Iranians so that they will behave responsibly as a member of the international community for global and regional peace and security.

Q: Mr. Ban Ki-moon, how will the role of the UN in Afghanistan change after 2014?

SG: The United Nations will continue to play a crucial and important even greater role. The United Nations will be responsible during this transitional period, to be responsible for civilian transition and military transition will be done by the ISAF members but after this we will mobilize all United Nations agencies and funds and programmes to deliver a social economic help, to help Afghan Government promote reconciliation and enhance nation capacity in good governance, eradicating practices now being prevalent and trying to eradicate the drug traffickings and try to help establish the rule of law.

Those are important and non-military aspects where the United Nations can help Afghan people. [inaudible] have emphasizes on many occasions with you, providing dignified lives to marginalized and vulnerable people, particularly women and girls and the women also continue to provide the [inaudible] to many people the cause should be how to have many educated human resources, that would be the foundation of your [inaudible].


Off-the-Cuff on 4 December 2011