Thank you Mister President, members of the Council,
Italy aligns itself with the statement to be made by the European Union.
We are grateful to the Secretary General for his excellent report, as well as to SRSG Yamamoto for his comprehensive briefing. These both clearly illustrate the complex juncture at which Afghanistan lies – starting with persistent security challenges, which continue to exact a heavy toll in terms of civilian victims and widespread suffering among the Afghan population.
Every day the National Unity Government and the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces are courageously fighting terrorist and extremist violence, which seeks to disrupt efforts for peace and stability. Italy remains committed to strengthening ANDSF capacities in the framework of the Resolute Support mission.
We welcome the outcomes of the recent Geneva Conference, which allowed us to take stock of the progress made in Afghanistan’s reform process and to reaffirm the mutual commitment between the Afghan authorities and the International Community to fostering a future of peace, prosperity and sustainable development for the country.
An important outcome of the Geneva meeting was also the shared awareness that not all of the reform goals have been fully achieved: I am referring here mainly to the fight against corruption. With a view to the pledging conference which will take place in 2020, the Geneva Mutual Accountability Framework clearly outlines the areas where there is scope for further progress.
With the same objectivity, we recognize the importance of the first parliamentary elections held in late October under Afghan leadership. These elections attest to the tenacious will of the Afghan people – especially of the many women who participated – despite an intimidating climate and terrorist threats. At the same time, taking note of the organizational, procedural and security-related difficulties that emerged, we believe these elections should also function as a blueprint of “lessons learned”, ensuring that the upcoming presidential elections are indeed credible and transparent.
The only viable solution to the conflict lies in an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process. There is an urgent and unambiguous yearning for peace among the Afghan people, as well as a broad international consensus on this point.
These factors have allowed the window of opportunity enabled by the unprecedented offer President Ghani made to the Taliban last February to stay open. Although the brief cease-fire during the Eid-al-Fitr festivities was not a forerunner of further positive gestures by the Taliban, prospects for a negotiated peace in Afghanistan have never been this tangible since 2001, also owing to the positive impact of international efforts.
Italy expresses its full support for those diplomatic initiatives which, in full accordance with the Kabul Process, can lead to concrete progress in opening the way towards peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. We underline, in this context, the positive contribution that can be made by the main international stakeholders – and especially regional partners – in creating the conditions for peace.
Lastly, it is essential that the negotiations for peace – which cannot be achieved at any price – involve every component of Afghan society, especially women, children and minorities, on the basis of a fully inclusive approach. Women, in particular, must be able to play an active role in negotiations and to ensure that their rights – enshrined in the Constitution – and the civil and social gains of the past 17 years are protected and further promoted.
I wish to conclude by expressing Italy’s sincere appreciation for the clear commitment to this issue by the Afghan Government, as confirmed by President Ghani in his new road map for peace.
I thank you.