November 28, 2018
بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم
H.E. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan,
Her Excellency Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary General of the United Nations
H.E. Dr. Abdullah-Abdullah, Chief Executive of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan,
H.E. Ignazio Cassis, Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of the Swiss Confederation,
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased to welcome you all to this Ministerial Conference on Afghanistan, as we gather today in the beautiful City of Geneva to reaffirm our shared commitment to a new phase of our enduring partnership.
Please allow me to extend our gratitude to the United Nations for co-hosting this Conference.
My thanks particularly go to my friend, Ambassador Yamamoto and his team for their excellent work in the lead-up to this important gathering.
I also wish to thank all of you for attending this important international gathering, which reaffirms your continued commitment to an unshakable partnership in support of peace and prosperity in Afghanistan.
The Geneva Conference marks another important milestone in our shared journey, providing an excellent opportunity to discuss both our achievements and challenges in the context of achieving lasting peace, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Our people have proven, time and again, their firm embrace of democracy.
They demonstrated this through their overwhelming participation in the recent parliamentary elections, braving every threat to their lives to line up for hours to exercise their democratic right to vote.
As another important priority, the peace process has gained momentum over the past few months, in line with the vision outlined by His Excellency President Ghani and with the efforts made under the Kabul Process, as well as other follow-up meetings.
Our resolve to achieve a peaceful solution to the current conflict under an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process remains strong.
Considering the link between peace and development and the recent momentum created under the peace process, today’s Conference also focuses on the prospects for peace.
As we see in the agenda, we will shortly have a brief segment on peace efforts, where His Excellency Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah will share the outcomes of a frank and open discussion that we had this morning during the breakfast with our regional and international partners.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today’s Conference also provides us with the opportunity to discuss how far we have been able to implement the commitments we made together in Brussels towards a Self-Reliant Afghanistan, as well as the additional benchmarks that the Government of Afghanistan committed to, early this year in the run up to the Geneva Conference.
Various side-events and side-meetings scheduled on the sidelines of this conference are expected to help us discuss both the achievements and challenges in this regard.
Minister Qayoumi will present to you during the morning session the progress made under the reform agenda, as well as the outline of our growth strategy.
As the progress reports prepared for the Conference demonstrate, Afghanistan has made notable gains over the past two years on the path towards self-reliance, including with respect to: economic growth, fiscal reforms, private sector development, service delivery and regional connectivity.
However, we acknowledge that these and other areas still require more intensive efforts by the Government of Afghanistan and continued support by the international community, including under the Geneva Mutual Accountability Framework, which we will adopt today.
In this context, greater coherence and efficiency of international aid, in line with our development strategy and our national priority programs, remains crucial.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today, we also focus on regional economic cooperation and connectivity, an area which has witnessed bold efforts and promising progress since the Brussels Conference.
As the paper prepared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs indicates, with considerable progress made recently, major regional projects such as TAPI, CASA 1000, the Five Nations Railway, the Lapis Lazuli Route, the Chabahar Corridor and the Digital Silk Road—which were once just a concept—are now turning into reality.
These initiatives are a part of our broader efforts, including under two prominent Afghanistan-centered regional cooperation frameworks—RECCA and Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process—to achieve the full potential of economic opportunities available in the wider region.
As I conclude, I would like to seize this opportunity to thank all partners for their proactive engagement in finalizing the Geneva Conference Communiqué—through which, we renew today our firm commitment to a long-term partnership that enables us to build on our shared gains so far, to achieve a stable and prosperous Afghanistan.
We are grateful for the commitment you are making today and for standing with us in our continuing journey for achieving our common objectives in the way forward.
We have no doubt that our shared success in this endeavor will help bolster regional stability and maintain international peace and security.