Besmellah-e Rahman-e Rahim
Excellency Foreign Ministers
Ladies and gentlemen
It is a privilege and a pleasure to join you on behalf of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan at the 18th Ministerial Meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement here in this beautiful city of Baku.
Please allow me to express my utmost appreciation to the Government of the Republic of Azerbaijan for hosting this important meeting as well as the Movement’s 18th Heads of States Summit this week.
Let me also thank the Republic of Venezuela for its chairmanship of the Non-Aligned Movement over the last three years.
This week’s events with Members of the Non-Aligned Movement are important and timely, as we all gather to collectively address the challenges that we face today as a region. The need to promote international peace and security; deal with climate change and manage natural disasters; and alleviate poverty are crucial issues for our region as well as the global community.
In the outset, let me extend our solidarity with people in suffering around the world. As a country affected by decade-long conflict, Afghanistan is fully aware of the pain and suffering that comes with it. We extend solidarity with the Palestinian people, the Rohingas, the people of Syria, and all other people who are suffering from war and oppression.
Afghanistan is a nation that, despite challenges, embodies values reflected in the Movement’s core principles: democracy, human rights, rule of law, peace, and development. No other people have demonstrated such strong commitment to these values under as difficult circumstances as Afghans.
Three weeks ago, in defiance of terror, the courageous people of Afghanistan went out of their homes to vote for democracy, for freedom, for peace, and for development.
The Taliban had declared war against the elections essentially declaring war against our brave citizens who came out to vote. Yet in spite of that threat, over 2 million Afghans went out to vote.
Our people’s vote will give a strong mandate to the newly-elected administration to implement its national agenda to meet the social, security, economic and humanitarian needs of our people.
But regardless of which candidate wins the presidential election, I can assure you that a key priority for everyone is building a comprehensive and inclusive peace process geared at achieving a political settlement to the conflict, to secure a dignified, sustainable peace that will not only benefit Afghans, but also the region and the wider international community.
Our people want peace and the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is fully committed to it.
The Afghan government has taken the initiative for peace, from President Ghani’s unconditional offer of peace to the Taliban in February 2018, to the ceasefire achieved in June 2018, to our peace plan announced in November 2018 and intensive on-going consultations with Afghan women and men across the country.
Today, we are pursuing a comprehensive 7-point plan that is building on the progress we and our international partners have made thus far.
Moving forward, we are forging pathways at the national, regional, and international levels so that inclusive engagement and consensus and coordination at every level can be the new foundation for a sustainable peace process.
But peace will require genuine commitment from all sides, including the Taliban. I called on the Taliban three weeks ago at the UN to renounce violence and negotiate with Afghans. I repeat that call today.
The Taliban have killed nearly a quarter million Afghans in the past two decades. The Taliban must stop killing of Afghans and agree to an immediate ceasefire.
The Taliban's alternative to reconciliation is to face the brave Afghan Security and Defense Forces on the battlefield. We know, like the Taliban also know that is a futile path for them to choose-the ANDSF are the pride of the Afghan nation, and get their strength from the full support they receive from all Afghans.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The Afghan Security and Defense Forces are at the front lines of a global fight against terrorism for the freedom of our entire region and the larger global community.
Afghans have made enormous sacrifices that must be acknowledged. Recognizing the shared threats, our international partners have also fought this war shoulder to shoulder with us and we pay tribute to their sacrifices.
We Afghans will not quit, we know that peace is achievable and we are moving toward it in a sustainable manner, guided by the principles of inclusivity, dignity and sustainability.
As we pursue peace, we will also continue to defend our population against terrorism, fear, and oppression.
We are currently facing testing times through the lingering threats of long-term conflicts and climate change, both of which exacerbate ongoing humanitarian crises in our region.
Each of us here has a responsibility to address these challenges. To meet these objectives, we need to take collective measures that are beyond our individual socio-economic and political interests.
Afghanistan stands ready to enter into new partnerships, bilaterally and multilaterally with fellow members of the Non-Aligned Movement in order to tackle our shared challenges. We have been regional leaders in cross-border energy, trade and transport initiatives, such as the TAPI pipeline, so we know well the mutual benefits that we can reap when we solve problems together.
We look forward to discussing details of our cooperation throughout the meetings this week.
Let me close my remarks with a message of hope.
Afghanistan is progressing towards peace and self-reliance that will be a keystone of stability in our region.
We are bringing to life our vision of connectivity, cooperation, and economic growth for our region where Afghanistan, as Asia’s roundabout, once again plays the central role it always has.
The gains made in Afghanistan over the past two decades in economic development, education, health, human rights, and institution-building are the result of multilateral partnerships and demonstrate the significance of international cooperation.
We will continue to build upon the gains of the past two decades and pro-actively seek to strengthen our partnerships through international platforms such as the Non-Aligned Movement.
We look to the future with confidence, based on the will of our people and with support of our international partners like you.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.