4 December 2011

Secretary-General's remarks at a press conference with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle

SG: Thank you, Foreign Minister, ladies and gentlemen, good day (all said in German).

As Foreign Minister Westerwelle has explained, we have discussed on a [inaudible] very important issues of our common concern, first of all I'd like to thank the Foreign Minister and Chancellor and the Government and citizens of Bonn for your very kind hospitality and for their visionary leadership in hosting this Bonn conference on Afghanistan.

Ten years after such a historic meeting which took place in Bonn, Germany is an acting member of the Security Council and a vital partner of the United Nations and I thank again for hosting many United Nations offices here and very much grateful that you regard this Bonn as the Germany United Nations City, and I thank you very much for such a hospitality and support for the United Nations. I particularly want to thank Foreign Minister Westerwelle for hosting tomorrow's conference on Afghanistan, which is taking place in such a historic stage when Afghan Government wants to take charge of their future by themselves, an international community has responsibility to support such aspiration of Afghanistan Government and people to lead Afghans own future.

More than 100 member states and organizations are joining forces here in Bonn to focus on building a better, peaceful, more prosperous life for all of the people of Afghanistan.

This is a pivotal moment. As the theme of the conference puts it, now is the time to move from “Transition to Transformation”.

That means Afghanistan is reaching a turning point in its relationship with the international community and the International Security Assistance Force.

And it means also, approaching the stage where it must take increasing charge of its own affairs and future, that we need to look at this issue, focus on more non-military aspects, helping Afghanistan Government strengthen their institution and capacity, the development from security to economic and social development and education, an equal opportunity for all Afghans. Women and men from all regions and all groups, we recognize this road will be hard and difficult but we are here in Bonn to say we will stand by Afghanistan and its proud and resilient people every step of the way. The United Nations in particular will be Afghanistan's partner now and for the future. Working in partnership with the Afghan Government we have made progress in recent years but we know violence continues to plague the daily lives of the Afghan people insecurity and hardship are all too common.

I am coming to the Bonn conference with three main messages, first we must reinforce the fundamental links between security and development as Afghanistan assumes the full responsibility for its security. We must intensify our focus on the non-military aspects of tradition, development, governance, fighting corruptions, tackling the drug trafficking, sustaining the rule of law and extending effective civilian authority throughout the country.

Second, we must do more to promote and deepen the right of the women and girls of Afghanistan. Later this afternoon, I will meet with a cross section of Afghan civil society leaders. Many of whom are very brave and courageous women. They are working for justice and dignity for all Afghans and they are making a difference. They deserve our full support. Afghanistan can realize all of its potential when all if its people are empowered, particularly women.

Third, we are also here to send a strong message for reconciliation grounded in dialogue and consensus. We must continue to work to ensure that all parties renounce violence, cut ties to international terrorism, and respect the Afghan Constitution with its protection for human rights.

This requires the support of all countries near and far. Political reconciliation in Afghanistan can proceed only if it is supported by its neighbours.

Let me repeat that the United Nations will be there for the people of Afghanistan during the remaining three years of transition and beyond 2014.

Once again, my thanks to Germany for hosting the Bonn Conference and for advancing the cause of peace, for other matters of our common concern I fully agree with what Dr. Westerwelle has just explained and Dankeschön.

Q: Your Excellency, you talked about the international community being here tomorrow, but Pakistan is obviously not here because of the NATO attack on Pakistani soldiers. Pakistan says that NATO has [inaudible] the mandate of the United Nations because the mandate was to cooperate on Pakistani soil, but they attacked Pakistan. How do you see the developing discussion in the absence of Pakistan?

My second question is: Yesterday in the context of Pakistan you said [inaudible] a hidden agenda they must [inaudible] counterproductive would you explain your perspective?

SG: Let me answer your question. First Pakistan is one of the key countries in the region who can help peace and stability in Afghanistan and thus it would have been much better if Pakistan was present in tomorrow's conference. I feel it regrettable that Pakistan has decided not to come but that is their sovereign decision. During the last several years as Secretary-General whenever I was engaging with Pakistani and Afghanistani Afghan leaders I had been emphasizing that both countries should maintain the neighbourly relationship and closely coordinate and help each other to promote peace and security in the region. Likewise I have been speaking to all central Asian countries leaders to fully cooperate this. I understand that the absence of Pakistan delegation does not give any reason that they will not fully cooperate. I'm told by Foreign Minister Westerwelle that he had been informed by the Pakistani Government that even though they may not be here, the Pakistani Government is committed to fully cooperate with the members of the international community and particularly the Afghan Government to work together and to promote peace and security in the region.