[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.]
Between now and the end of 2014, two crucial events will mark the course of Afghanistan’s future: 1) for the first time in the Country’s history, there will be a handing over of power from one Head of State to another based on a democratic process; 2) the completion of the transition process where a mission supporting Afghan Security Forces (ANSF – Afghan National Security Forces) for “training, advising and assisting” will replace the ISAF military presence.
The presidential run-off elections confirmed the positive trend stemming from the first vote. The high turnout in the elections was a sign that Afghans, not giving into fear, trust the democratic process and have high expectations for a new President capable of tackling the Country’s problems.
The regularity of the entire election process, up until the announcement of the new Head of State, is critical: only with the perception of a legitimate, credible, transparent, and inclusive process will the outcome be accepted by the defeated opponents and public opinion, and thus allow for a peaceful political transition with no upsets. The United Nations is directing its efforts towards this perspective, also by reiterating the absolute primacy of the election process, of the respect for its rules and regulations, and of the importance of dialogue between the two candidates. In this delicate phase following the second ballot, it is essential that both candidates and their supporters base their conduct on moderation and on a sense of responsibility; that they avoid rushing to claim victory prematurely; and channel complaints through the appropriate mechanisms. This should be done in the awareness that the post-election scenarios require the Country’s utmost unity, with a view to its civil and economic development, to be nurtured by peace and stability.
The contribution of the ANSF was decisive in guaranteeing regularity of the presidential and local elections, thus proving their capability in successfully overcoming the heavy, everyday challenge of controlling the territory. As to the insurgence, despite the higher number of attacks and victims than the first vote, once again attempts to derail the elections failed. Nonetheless, we must be aware that the stabilization of the Country will take more time and that we cannot let our guard down.
In view of completing the transition process, welcome news is the announcement of the United States on its future presence in Afghanistan and on the timetable of the military withdrawal. Clearly what remains instrumental for the post-2014 assets is the signing of the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) between Afghanistan and the United States, to which both presidential candidates are open, as well as finalizing the necessary legal framework for the presence of NATO troops in the Country.
Italy confirms its support for the peace process, recognizing Afghanistan’s complete ownership, and expects that it will not be affected by any setbacks in its gains in democratization and civil and gender rights, nor will it yield to terrorism. We reiterate our firm belief in the fact that, without an internal reconciliation in Afghanistan, there can be no prospects of stabilization, nor can any possible stabilization be long-lasting without the genuine and determined contribution of the other regional actors.
In such a momentous stage of Afghanistan’s process of stabilization and development, it is vital for Italy to see that ambitions are not diminished; that there will be no sacrificing the quality and quantity of the benchmarks to be respected by the Kabul Authorities. We expect from our Afghan friends to remain committed to the “Tokyo legacy”, as well as to reach clear and measurable goals in sectors such as the democratic and electoral processes, the fight against corruption, administrative and economic governance and human rights.