I would like to thank the Secretary-General for his comprehensive report and the Special Representative Ján Kubiš for his briefing.
Italy fully aligns itself with the statement (to be) delivered by the European Union and would like to add a few remarks in a national capacity.
Afghanistan is going through a very important moment. The beginning of the fifth and last phase of the transition process has been announced. The Afghan Government and security forces are preparing to take responsibility for security operations throughout the country. The Afghan people will be taking increased ownership of their future.
We are thus at a very delicate moment, characterized by a particularly virulent fighting season that forces us to remain vigilant. We know there could be some critical aspects to the process of handing over responsibility for security to the national authorities, but we are confident of the Afghan armed forces’ determination to tackle this important challenge.
Italy will continue to assist Afghanistan and to encourage a greater commitment from the international community as a whole. Starting in 2015, during the so-called Transformation Decade, a new partnership will be formed that will lead our presence on the field to shift its focus mainly to training activities.
Afghanistan is about to face another crucial challenge: the presidential elections. We expect the Afghan Authorities will take all the necessary steps to guarantee an inclusive, transparent and credible process, and to enact clear shared rules that will guarantee the participation of the many components of civil society and the various political parties in the Country.
Let us not forget the more general mutual commitments made at the Tokyo Conference of July 2012, which should guide our future cooperation. In confirming our presence in Afghanistan, we encourage the Government of Kabul to honor its commitments in the field of governance, the fight against corruption, and the protection of human rights, in a framework of conditionality and measurable results.
Italy attaches great importance to the protection of women’s rights and the promotion of the status of women in Afghanistan, to which the Government of Kabul made specific commitments in Tokyo, including effective and uniform enforcement of the law on the elimination of violence against women.
Internal reconciliation is also an unavoidable crossroads on the path to the lasting stabilization of the country. Italy supports the peace process and recognizes Afghan’s full ownership of it and we look forward to concrete follow-up soon. We have the expectation that this will not lead to reversals on the gains that have been made in civil rights and democracy, or to concessions to terrorism. Equally important is the contribution of regional actors who are called upon to help lay the groundwork for the success of the inter-Afghan dialogue.
At the regional level we also expect to see strengthened cooperation and more intense political dialogue. The developments in the Istanbul Process (which Italy supports) are promising. Now we have to get on with the practical implementation of the plans of action approved at the ministerial meeting in Almaty last April.
I take this opportunity to express Italy’s deep appreciation for the role being played by the United Nations in Afghanistan, starting with UNAMA. In the run-up to the elections, the UN’s support for the Afghan Authorities will be crucial to consolidating the legitimacy and integrity of the process.
UNAMA’s contribution will be just as important during this delicate transition to the Transformation Decade, by supporting the Afghan government institutions as they take on a greater share of the responsibility for the socio-economic development of their country.