France will continue to cooperate closely with Afghanistan [fr]
Public ministerial debate - Building regional partnership in Afghanistan and Central Asia as a model to link security and development - Statement by Mr François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - 19 January 2018
I would like to begin by thanking Kazakhstan for its initiative in convening this important meeting and, more generally, for placing Central Asia and Afghanistan at the heart of the Security Council’s attention in the month of January. As the Council has just returned from Kabul, this meeting is an opportunity to reaffirm the importance that we collectively attach to the security and development of that region of the world. I also thank the Secretary-General for his briefing.
France aligns itself with the statement to be made by the observer of the European Union. I shall confine myself to three main points.
My first point concerns the situation in Afghanistan. As I said, the Security Council has just visited Kabul, a first since 2010. On behalf of France, I would like to thank the Afghan authorities for their hospitality and to commend their determination as they pursue the democratic consolidation of the country.
The very high level of insecurity and violence in Afghanistan remains a major source of concern for France. Armed clashes and repeated terrorist attacks continue to seriously destabilize the entire country. In that regard, France shares the determination of the Afghan authorities and of our allies to combat terrorism, including its financing. In addition to the need to pursue ongoing reforms aimed at achieving governance that is more effective and better able to serve the population and strengthen the rule of law, France encourages Afghanistan to focus on two priorities in 2018.The first priority is the conduct of free and transparent local and parliamentary elections. Progress has been made in that area, and preparations for the parliamentary elections have been initiated by the competent authorities, in particular the Government and the Independent Electoral Commission. France encourages the Afghan authorities to continue their efforts, with the support of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), to ensure an inclusive and credible electoral process. In that regard, the full participation of women in electoral processes, both as voters and as candidates, will be essential.
The second priority is to reinvigorate momentum towards an Afghan-led peace process. That requires relaunching the inter-Afghan dialogue, but also a sincere commitment and unambiguous support for peace from all of Afghanistan’s neighbours. We call on everyone to make a renewed effort in that direction and make concrete commitments. France has noted the announcement of a new meeting of the Kabul Process at the end of February and hopes that the meeting will bring together existing initiatives under the authority of the Afghan Government.
Those are the two immediate priorities. But we must certainly not lose sight of the fragility of the humanitarian situation, particularly the case of refugees, as well as the very precarious situation of women and children, who remain, it should be recalled, the first victims of the conflict.
My second point pertains to cooperation between Afghanistan and Central Asia, which is not only necessary but also replete with great opportunities. France thanks Kazakhstan for taking the initiative of drafting a presidential statement (S/PRST/2018/2) that for the first time highlights the special ties linking Afghanistan and Central Asia, as well as the opportunities that they represent for the economic development and security of the region. Afghanistan and Central Asia in fact share many common challenges, all of which involve areas where stronger regional cooperation is needed.
In the area of security, I would mention preventing radicalization, in particular of young people and. more generally. combating terrorism and its financing. With regard to combating drug trafficking, which continues to fuel the Taliban insurgency, trafficking encourages corruption and poses a major public health risk to Afghanistan and the neighbouring countries. In that regard, the Paris Pact initiative, a partnership that includes Afghanistan and the Central Asian countries, remains a unique framework for exchange among all countries affected by narcotics produced in Afghanistan.
In the area of economic development, it is essential that Afghanistan be able to benefit from its geographical location in the heart of Asia. Its increasing involvement in multiple projects to increase connectivity between Afghanistan and Central Asia, as well as in various other forms of regional cooperation, must be encouraged. Energy and transportation are two key sectors in that regard. As Afghanistan is one of the primary sufferers from global warming, which causes severe drought, it is fortunate that the region is endowed with great potential for developing renewable energy, including hydraulic, solar and wind resources. France encourages regional partners to invest in those energy sources and to green their economies. In Central Asia as elsewhere, it is important to continue to foster a comprehensive approach linking security and development goals as part of the framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
My third, and last, point concerns the support of the international community, especially the United Nations, for Afghanistan and Central Asia. That support comes not only from UNAMA and the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia, but also from all United Nations agencies that are working to strengthen the stability and development of the region. I should like to reaffirm France’s full support for the work of United Nations in the region and to encourage increased cooperation between UNAMA and the United Nations Centre for Preventive Diplomacy. Security Council consultations scheduled for next Monday, 22 January, concerning the activities of the Centre, and the upcoming renewal of UNAMA’s mandate in March will provide opportunities to further elaborate on how the United Nations can continue to support Afghanistan and Central Asia.
For its part, France will continue to cooperate closely with Afghanistan and Central Asian countries on major international issues, beginning with combating terrorism, in a bilateral framework, as well as through the European Union, which today is a major partner for the region. France will also continue to support the modernization of those countries in all areas and to work resolutely to strengthen our links.