|Statement by Ambassador Ma Zhaoxu on Situation in Afghanistan|
I would like to thank Special Representative of the Secretary-General Yamamoto and Executive Director Fedotov for their briefings and their efforts. I also want to thank Ambassador Umarov for his briefing. Over the past two years, under his capable leadership, the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1988 (2011) has done a tremendous amount of useful work, and China is grateful to him. I have also listened carefully to Ambassador Saikal, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan, and Ms. Haress, the representative of civil society, and thank them for their statements.
China has been following the current political process and the security and humanitarian situations in Afghanistan very closely. In the wake of the parliamentary elections in October, the political process in the country has entered a new phase. Afghanistan’s National Unity Government is committed to promoting socioeconomic development and maintaining peace and security. The Ministerial Conference on Afghanistan held in Geneva in November adopted a joint communiqué and the Geneva Mutual Accountability Framework, reaffirming the international community’s steadfast support to the country in all areas. The international community should now honour its commitment in earnest and continue to aid Afghanistan in the following four areas.
First, Afghanistan must be helped to maintain its political stability. While the parliamentary elections were held in October, the results have not yet been announced. As preparations for next year’s presidential elections are under way, we hope that the country’s Independent Election Commission can learn lessons and draw on its experiences in the parliamentary elections to strengthen the arrangements for the presidential elections. All stakeholders across the political spectrum in Afghanistan should strengthen their unity, consider the maintenance of national political stability a shared responsibility and resolve their differences through dialogue.
Second, the international community must help Afghanistan improve its security environment. The outbreak of violence on 20 October, the day of the parliamentary elections, claimed many lives and ended up becoming the deadliest day of the year. In the first nine months of this year, fighting inside Afghanistan resulted in a record number of civilian casualties. Statistics from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime also show that drug production in the country remains high. The international community should strengthen its coordination and cooperation with a view to effectively implementing the various Security Council resolutions related to these issues, and should support the work of the relevant subsidiary bodies, such as the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1988 (2011). It should also continue to support the Afghan national security forces in building their capacity to respond effectively to threats such as terrorism, transnational crime and drug trafficking.
Third, Afghanistan needs help in advancing the reconciliation process. The Government of Afghanistan recently again called for unconditional talks with the Taliban and reorganized its negotiating team. The international community should support an inclusive political process that is Afghan-led and -owned, back the Government’s efforts to promote peace talks; encourage the Taliban to return to the negotiating table as soon as possible and give support to the Kabul process, the Moscow format and other international mechanisms with a view to making further progress.
Fourth, we must help Afghanistan achieve self-driven development. The investment and business environments in Afghanistan improved in 2018. We hope that all the country’s political parties will work together to advance its development in accordance with Afghanistan’s National Peace and Development Framework and national priority programme. The international community should continue to help the Government and the people of Afghanistan improve their livelihoods, and should respect the Afghan people’s independent choice of political system and development path. Regarding development, I would like to respond to my colleague from Kuwait, who made a reference in his statement to a Chinese proverb. China has another saying — that development is of paramount importance, and it is indeed of paramount importance to Afghanistan as well.
As a traditionally friendly neighbour of Afghanistan, China has always given support to its political process and its reconstruction and development. As Ambassador Saikal said, the second dialogue between the Foreign Ministers of China, Afghanistan and Pakistan was held in Kabul on 15 December with great success. The three sides reached a broad consensus and reaffirmed their joint commitment to realizing a comprehensive and inclusive political settlement as soon as possible, strengthening the momentum of improvement in the relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan, facilitating practical cooperation and connectivity by advancing the Belt and Road Initiative, expanding its cooperation on counter-terrorism and jointly promoting regional security, stability and development. During the dialogue, the three sides also signed a memorandum of understanding on countering terrorism and issued a joint statement on the tripartite dialogue.
In order to help the millions of people who have been affected by drought in Afghanistan, China recently provided Afghanistan with more than ¥60 million in humanitarian assistance. We will continue to use the China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ dialogue and the quadrilateral coordination group on the Afghan peace and reconciliation process — which consists of China, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States — the Shanghai Cooperation Organization-Afghanistan Contact Group and other multilateral mechanisms to provide support and assistance to Afghanistan in the relevant areas.
China will continue to work with Afghanistan to actively implement the memorandum of understanding on jointly advancing the Belt and Road Initiative, facilitating its trade relations with other countries in the region and building its infrastructure, connectivity and socioeconomic development so as to contribute to the security, stability, development and prosperity of Afghanistan and the region as a whole.