(check against delivery)
Mr. President, Kairat Abdrakhmanov, Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan,
Ministers, Excellencies, Distinguished Colleagues,
Germany aligns itself with the statement to be delivered by the European Union later in this debate.
Let me start by commending the Kazakh Presidency of the Council, for the numerous initiatives it has undertaken in recent months. With the Arria-formula meeting co-hosted by Afghanistan and Germany in November, followed by the Security Council’s recent trip to Kabul and today’s Ministerial Meeting, you have really managed to put the regional partnership between Afghanistan and Central Asia on the map.
I find it particularly encouraging that the Security Council has shown a great degree of unity when it comes to supporting an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.
The drivers of conflict are multidimensional – and so are the solutions. A comprehensive strategy towards peace therefore requires that all security, stabilization and development efforts support a peace process and contribute to a political solution. This requires:
- First: coherent approaches based on an understanding of the links between the humanitarian, peace and development dimensions.
- Second: well-coordinated international and regional cooperation
With regard to Afghanistan and Central Asia, Germany’s engagement follows a coherent, multidimensional approach in line with our new government guidelines for “Preventing Crises, Resolving Conflicts, Building Peace.” Our approach aims to address both structural causes and immediate needs by using all available tools to achieve sustainable peace in Afghanistan and the region.
Germany is strongly committed to supporting the government and people of Afghanistan on their path to stability, peace and development. Our civilian support amounts to 430 million € a year. We take pride in being part of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan security forces. As chair of the International Contact Group for Afghanistan, we strive to increase international cohesion around peace and stability in the region.
The crucial challenges of combating transnational terrorism, including by groups affiliated with the Islamic State, and illicit trafficking in narcotics can only be addressed together. Ultimately, the conflict in Afghanistan can be resolved only through an internationally backed intra-Afghan peace process.
Together with the UN, Germany stands ready to support the initiation of direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. The next meeting of the Kabul Process for Peace and Security in Kabul on 28 February, as the main international forum in this regard, will be an opportunity to outline an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned roadmap and to showcase the united support of key stakeholders.
Not only is Afghanistan key for stability in Central Asia – the region can also contribute to further stability in Afghanistan. Germany supports regional formats, like the Istanbul/Heart of Asia process.
Just like with Afghanistan, our engagement in Central Asia has a long history. Germany was among the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with CA countries, and we initiated the EU-CA Strategy under the German presidency in 2007 which aimed to establish the EU as a credible and more visible partner in CA.
As part of our strategy, we actively support regional formats and initiatives. The German Foreign Office initiated the Water Initiative for Central Asia, the so-called “Berlin Process,” with the aim of improving regional cooperation through transboundary water management. Additional regional programs supported by Germany include strengthening of the rule of law and expanding vocational training (at the planning stage: program for the prevention of radicalization).
Cooperation needs to start at the level of individual people. We finance small infrastructure projects through the PATRIP Foundation in the border regions between Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tadzhikistan and Iran, including bridges, electricity lines, market places and administrative buildings. These projects foster cross-border exchange, improve living conditions and strengthen public administration in border areas. They have demonstrated how security and development can reinforce each other.
Recent dynamics and openness for regional cooperation are encouraging, as seen for example in the international conference in Samarkand in November 2017 with high-level participation (amongst others from CA, EU, UN, and OSCE). We welcome that Uzbekistan has recently made strengthening relations with its neighbors one of its priorities and we see positive dynamics for a deepening of regional cooperation.
And we stand ready to continue our support: a new EU-CA Strategy to replace the one of 2007 will be completed by the end of 2019economy and security will be of major importance.
But there is still room for improvement. Greater cooperation among regional and international partners that makes use of our comparative advantages is needed to implement common strategies.
The UN can and should play a major role in these efforts, through close collaboration between UNAMA and UNRCCA to promote regional coherence in working for sustainable peace. We thank the UN for their tireless engagement and encourage them to continue their efforts.
Let me conclude by pointing out that all of this – a stronger understanding of the interlinkages between the multiple dimensions of crises, increased cooperation and coherence within the UN and among international partners – ties in with the SG’s reform agenda which Germany strongly supports.
Implementing it will not only require practical effort but also a new way of thinking. The Security Council must find ways to promote sustainable political solutions by looking at the entire peace continuum. We are all called upon to contribute our ideas and engagement.
Thank you, Mr. President.