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 about to enter a crucial phase of its history. From now until the end of 2014, there will be a series of important moments in the transition involving the closely-connected political and security levels. I am referring to the presidential elections of April 2014; the subsequent change-over between Karzai and his successor; the winding-down of ISAF; and the definition of the mission that will then take over.
In terms of security, the beginning of the fifth and last phase of the transition process this past June – on which basis the Afghan National Security Forces will assume full control of their territory – was accompanied by a fighting season that produced a never-ending series of high-profile terrorist attacks and victims. This phase is consequently a source of concern, and we cannot let down our guard, given the critical transfer of nationwide security from NATO to Afghanistan. Nevertheless, the Afghan armed forces have made clear and steady progress in addressing the demanding daily challenge of controlling the territory and assuring the security of the Country.
At the political level, where security continues to be a major component, the lead-up to the presidential elections has now begun in a symbolic way with the presentation of candidatures (September 16). We wish to express our appreciation for the Kabul Authorities’ change of pace in defining an institutional framework – through the recently-approved new election law – to govern the elections. It is Italy’s hope that, until the proclamation of the new Head of State, the Afghan Authorities will undertake all the necessary actions to guarantee an inclusive, transparent, and credible election process, and that there will be shared rules of the game that respect and represent the multiple aspects of civil society and the various political parties present in the Country.
In the upcoming elections, the UN’s support for the Afghan Authorities through UNAMA will be invaluable. UNAMA plays a crucial and greatly appreciated role that will help strengthen the legitimacy and integrity of the elections. UNAMA’s support will be equally important during the delicate transition to the Transformation Decade, in support of the Afghan institutions as they gradually take on responsibility for the civic and economic development of their Country. These and other issues will be at the focus of the debate that will take place during the meeting of the International Contact Group in New York on September 20.
Allow me to add a further consideration: there can be no prospect of stabilization in Afghanistan without national reconciliation, nor can stabilization be long-lasting without the genuine and convinced contribution of the regional stakeholders. Italy confirms its support for the peace process, recognizing Afghanistan’s full ownership, and voices its expectation that the transition will not become the occasion for reversals from gains made in the areas of democracy, civil rights, and gender equality, or for concessions to terrorism.
In the regional framework, Italy recognizes the unquestionable progress made through the Istanbul Process, of which we are a supporting Country, and wishes to emphasize the importance of implementing the plans of action approved at the Ministerial Meeting in Almaty last April. We thus look forward to the outcomes of the next meeting of Senior Officials, scheduled to take place here in New York on Monday. Finally, Italy hopes that the recent establishment of a more cordial climate between Afghanistan and Pakistan will be a harbinger of positive developments in the general area of regional cooperation and of the success of the inter-Afghan dialogue.
In closing, Italy wishes to reiterate the message sent by the Tokyo Conference: as we look forward to the Transformation Decade, the continued support of the international community for Afghanistan will be connected, in a perspective of conditionality, to Afghanistan’s achievement of measurable results in areas such as the democratic and electoral process, the fight against corruption, administrative and economic governance, and the protection of human rights, in particular of women. Our assistance cannot disregard the principles of reciprocity, conditionality, and responsibility, which remain the mainstays of the renewed long-term partnership between Afghanistan and the international community, on the one hand, and between Afghanistan and Italy on the other.
I take this opportunity to express once again Italy’s 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.