Introductory Remarks of H.E Salahuddin Rabbani Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan at the Opening of the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan

5 October 2016 – EU Headquarters

In the name of God the most Compassionate the most Merciful

H.E Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

H.E. Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Chief Executive of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

H.E Donald Tusk, President of the European Council

H.E. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations

H.E. John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State

His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan IV, Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims

Honorable Ministers,

Distinguished Delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the National Unity Government of Afghanistan and as the co-host of the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan, it is a great privilege to welcome you all today.  The overarching theme of this conference is “Partnership for Prosperity and Peace.”

Peace and Prosperity are the priorities of the Afghan government. The Afghan nation is grateful to our international partners for their sacrifices in helping us move towards those crucial objectives, for the past one and half decade. And once again, your presence here today reaffirms our enduring partnership and great alliance.

It strengthens and renews our joint commitment to see an Afghanistan free of war and poverty.

And for those who want this vision to fail, our gathering here today sends a clear message: that Afghanistan is on the path to a more prosperous future and has the unshakeable support of its international friends on this journey.

Distinguished Delegates,

Since 2001, we have traveled a long and difficult journey together. When our partnership started, years of conflict had left Afghanistan devastated across the board. For instance, it is worth remembering that in 2002, fewer than 900,000 students were at schools with no girl among them. In the education sector, that was our starting point.

Today, that number has gone up to 9 million students, 40 percent of which are girls.

Today, Afghan women are active members of the civil society, as well as in the government and in the private sector. We have women ministers, deputy ministers, parliamentarians, members of the high peace council, judges, attorney generals, and ambassadors.

Due to government’s strong leadership, sound public health policies and support from the international community, we have achieved considerable progress in public health system. Maternal and child mortality rates have declined significantly.

Our fiscal position has also improved considerably. Effective revenue collection and more realistic budgeting have helped us balance our expenses. Over the period 2015-2016   our revenue has increased to 29 percent and is estimated to increase to 32 percent.

In late July, after over a decade of negotiations, Afghanistan acceded to the World Trade Organization as its 164th member. As a land locked country, we look forward to benefit from thespecial treatment granted for Least Developed Countries under the WTO multilateral trading system.

The Afghan government’s commitment in fighting corruption and its reform agenda remains firm.The establishment of an independent Anti-Corruption Justice Centre in Kabul and the creation of theNational Procurement Authority are the strong examples of this commitment.

Similarly, the endorsement of the new election law last month is a major step towards electoral reforms in ensuring more transparent: provincial, parliamentary and Presidential elections in Afghanistan.

Ladies and Gentleman,

Building on a broad framework and consensus established in previous conferences on Afghanistan and under the leadership of the National Unity Government, today,  we have developed a vision, and a clear roadmap for our future economic development policies.

Now it is the time for us to further foster our national reform agenda, and the priorities described inRealizing Self-Reliance Strategy Paper and in Afghanistan National Peace and Development Strategy Framework.

Last week, we took an important step in overall efforts to achieve a lasting peace, by concluding the signing of peace agreement with Hezb-e-Islami group. While fully committed to preserving the rights of our citizens, particularly women’s rights, we are ready to sign similar agreements with other armed opposition groups, who are ready to renounce violence break all ties to the international terrorism and accept our constitution.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

A glimpse at where we stand in our shared journey shows that our achievements are many and that Afghanistan is progressing on a positive trajectory. These are the achievements that are shared between the people of Afghanistan and the international community. We all can take pride in what we have achieved together.

Yet, our challenges remain formidable. On a daily basis, our brave security and defense forces are fighting to eliminate extremism and terrorism.

It falls upon all of us, as a responsibility, to make sure no innocent life is lost anymore whether it is in Brussels, Kabul, New York or elsewhere.

It is important today that we maintain a broad political support and a sense of mutual accountability beyond pledging to assist the Afghan nation in its path towards self-reliance.

We need to strengthen Afghan ownership and leadership, the economic growth and productivity, governance and rule of law, and renew our development partnership by taking into account the emerging challenges.

Honorable Ministers,

Yesterday, the side event on Regional Integration and Prosperity added more values to the existingAfghan-led regional cooperation processes, namely the Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan and the Heart of Asia–Istanbul Process.

These platforms and processes will help us to work closely with our neighbors to build better regional understanding, and to promote economic integration in pursuit of peace and development.

The rich discussions during the side event, Empowered Women-Prosperous Afghanistan were also assuring for Afghan women’s economic empowerment. It offered a unique perspective on the essential role of Afghan women in helping to promote economic development.

Building upon our previous mutual frameworks, this conference is an opportunity to provide a platform for the government of Afghanistan to set out our vision and present our track record on our reform agenda.

Similarly, it is an opportunity for the international community to reaffirm their sustained political and financial support to Afghanistan’s peace-building and development efforts.

Distinguished Delegates,

Today, once more, we will express our durable commitment towards building a democratic and peaceful Afghanistan; and we will show to the adversaries that our alliance for a prosperous Afghanistan and a peaceful world is indestructible.

Thank you.