Italy aligns itself with the statement of the European Union, and would like to make a few remarks in a national capacity.
We welcome the resolution on the situation in Afghanistan and support its adoption by consensus. In doing so, we confirm our appreciation for the substantial contribution the United Nations is making to the stabilization of Afghanistan. Italy values the continued efforts that the Secretary-General and his Special Representative are promoting in this aim, and reiterates its full and convinced support for their work. We also commend the role of the United Nations Assistance Mission in leading and coordinating the civilian efforts of the international community, whose importance will grow as the military commitment gradually diminishes.
The term “countdown” epitomizes the current international debate on Afghanistan, expressing not only the concerns but especially the expectations and confidence we partners have with regard to the crucial deadlines Afghanistan must face between now and the end of 2014. In this period, the Country must complete the Transition Process, the Decade of Transformation begins, and ISAF will turn into the Resolute Support Mission. First, however, come the presidential elections of April 2014, which will mark, for the first time in Afghan history, a hand-off from one Head of State to another through a democratic process. These critical junctures will outline the features of domestic balances in Afghanistan and the nature of the Country’s future relationships with the international community.
In the lead-up to the elections, the United Nations needs to strengthen its support for the Afghan institutions to enable them to gradually take ownership of the civil and economic development of the Country. It is Italy’s hope that until the new Head of State has been proclaimed, the Kabul Authorities will undertake every action needed to guarantee an inclusive, transparent, and credible electoral process, and that there will be common rules of the game that protect and represent the many facets of civil society as well as the various political parties present in the Country. The gradual definition of an institutional framework to oversee the elections – thanks to the approval of the new election law and the forthcoming publication of the final list of presidential candidates – indicates that the Afghan Authorities are moving in the right direction.
A prerequisite to the proper and orderly conduct of the presidential and provincial elections is security: a responsibility of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) which have made steady progress in the challenging daily task of controlling the territory.
Italy reiterates its conviction that there can be no stabilization of Afghanistan without domestic reconciliation, nor can this stability be lasting without the genuine and heartfelt contribution of regional stakeholders. Italy thus confirms its support for the peace process, recognizing the full ownership of the Afghan authorities, and expects that there will be no backsliding from gains that have been made in the area of democracy, civil rights, and gender equality, or concessions to terrorism.
Italy is confident that the recent establishment of a more cordial climate between Afghanistan and Pakistan portends positive developments in the inter-Afghan dialogue and in regional cooperation as a whole. In this latter regard, implementation of the confidence-building measures of the Istanbul/Heart of Asia process, which Italy supports and encourages, could make a significant contribution.
In closing, Italy wishes to express its appreciation of the important space that the Afghanistan resolution dedicates to respect for human rights, particularly the rights of women and children. For Italy this protection is an absolute priority.
We intend to dedicate our efforts and our support to Afghanistan and its people. At the same time, from our Afghani friends we are expecting – in logic of conditionality, pursuant to the “legacy of Tokyo” – the achievement of definite, measurable results not only in human rights, but also in areas such as the democratic and electoral process, the fight against corruption, and administrative and economic governance.
Thank you, Mr. President.