Statement of H.E. Mr. Margus Kolga, Permanent Representative of Estonia to the UN at the UN Security Council debate on the Situation in Afganistan
Thank you, Mr. President,
First of all, allow
me to thank the Secretary General for his intervention and for the report.
I would also like to thank the Special
Representative, Jan Kubiš for the hard work that he and the mission have
delivered on the ground in Afghanistan. My delegation also aligns itself with
the statement of the European Union.
Afghanistan has made great progress in recent years and it is important
not to lose the momentum as the country is going through one of the most
pivotal periods in its history. It is vital that the international community
remains strongly engaged in endorsing Afghanistan´s efforts during the
transition phase, as well as after 2014. I can assure that Estonia is and will stay
committed to supporting Afghanistan after the completion of the ISAF mission.
Estonia has been a long-term partner to Afghanistan and there is no
other country in the world where our engagement is as strong as in that country.
Estonia is one of the highest per capita contributors to the ISAF mission. Our
troops are in Helmand province together with the British troops. The contingent
is expected to be withdrawn in mid 2014. By keeping our company in Afghanistan
until the end of the election period, we aim to make a contribution to
safeguarding the future of Afghanistan. We are looking also to support financially
the post-2014 mission, and for the sustainability of the Afghan National
Security Forces, Estonia is also contributing to EU Police Mission and NATO
We don’t believe that there can be a sustainable solution in Afghanistan
that involves only military contribution. In order to target the causes of the
problems that Afghanistan is facing, we must continue our efforts with
development cooperation also after 2014. Estonia´s development assistance is
focused on four sectors: security, education, health care and the rule of law. Besides
supporting the central government through our annual contributions to the
Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), we are also carrying out
bilateral projects to help Afghanistan with our knowledge and experience. For
instance, Kabul University is currently establishing a Master's
programs in IT with the support from Tallinn University; and we continue to
invite Afghan civil servants to training courses in Tallinn.
I would also like to draw attention to the
human rights situation in Afghanistan. There have been gains in the protection
of human rights in Afghanistan, although actions need to be taken to improve
the situation. In our development
projects, Estonia pays extra attention to promoting women´s
rights and the well-being of children as they are the most vulnerable groups. We
believe that traditions
or beliefs should never be used as a pretext for gender inequality and
non-recognition of women’s rights. At the recent session of the Commission on
the Status of Women, the Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet strongly condemned all kinds of
violence against women and girls and we hope that the adoption of the agreed
conclusions of CSW will give further impetus to combating violence against
women and girls also in Afghanistan.
Estonia calls on effective and fast implementation of
the Action Plan for Prevention of Underage Recruitment and its annexes on
killing and maiming and sexual violence against children.
There are still many challenges
ahead in Afghanistan to become a stable, secure,
democratic and a prosperous country - the transition of the security and civilian
responsibility, reconciliation process, elections next year and the last but not
the least - the economic transition.
We are pleased
to note that the security transition to the Afghan forces is on track and the
Afghan government has announced that the Afghan forces are set to take over
responsibility for the security of nearly 90 percent of the country's
Implementation of Tokyo Framework is fundamental for long-term stability
and future success in Afghanistan and we recognize the significant progress
made in the process.
Free, transparent and fair elections
in 2014 and 2015 are paramount in improving legitimacy of the political
transition and in consolidating democracy in Afghanistan. We underline the
urgency to adopt the legal and institutional framework with an adequate system
of checks and balances for a proper conduct of elections. With the help of the
coalition forces, secure environment for the elections should be provided. We emphasize
the importance of establishing effective electoral administration and fraud
prevention mechanisms. The UN´s role remains essential in
preparation for the elections through technical and financial assistance.
Reconciliation process in the
country should be, of course Afghan-led and Afghan-owned but UNAMA´s strong
support to the High Peace Council in confidence and trust building has been, in
our view, also indispensable.
Regarding Afghan economic
development and transition, we encourage the Government to implement necessary
reforms, give all the necessary support to the private sector, ensure a secure and
stable business environment and improve measures for fighting against
corruption. Investing in people's education and skills is also important to further
Strengthening regional cooperation with
neighboring South and Central Asian countries is a key for achieving durable
security environment in Afghanistan. In addition, a close regional cooperation
creates opportunities for economic development. Therefore, Estonia supports
Istanbul process and the implementation of the Confidence Building Measures.
The UN and UNAMA have been taking
important lead in civil-military coordination, international development aid
cooperation, protection of human rights, monitoring the humanitarian situation,
counternarcotics efforts, and as mentioned earlier, in facilitating the reconciliation
process and assistance for the elections. For that reason it is hard to underestimate the
role that the UN and its bodies have played in Afghanistan. After the departure
of the foreign military forces this role
is only likely to increase.
As the UN´s commitment and
assistance is substantial in the transition period in Afghanistan, we fully
support the extension of UNAMA mandate for another year.