(Check against delivery)
Excellencies, Distinguished Colleagues,
Let me thank you, Ambassador Yamamoto, for your informative briefing.
Germany aligns itself with the statement to be delivered by the European Union.
I would like to focus on three things in particular:
- Preparations are taking place amid enormous challenges in terms of logistics, security and political climate. For the first time, Afghan institutions are taking on these challenges on their own. Thanks to their efforts preparations are largely on track today despite all obstacles. It is crucial that these parliamentary elections, which have been postponed several times, take place in a timely, free, fair and transparent manner.
- All processes must take place in the framework of the Afghan constitution. Political leaders bear a high responsibility in this regard and should be reminded of it. The Afghan people deserve no less.
- Peace Process:
- With its offer of unconditional talks and the unprecedented June ceasefire, the Afghan government has shown great courage for the sake of peace, even while the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces are putting their lives at risk to defend Afghan citizens against attacks every day. These acts of statesmanship by President Ghani and CEO Abdullah command our respect.
- Efforts should now be focused on initiating direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Confidence building measures such as ceasefires are useful, but the Taliban must not be allowed to garner international credit while running away from the negotiating table.
- The countries of the region can contribute greatly. In particular, the policy statements by the new Pakistani government have raised hopes. Have seen some encouraging signs. There is now an opportunity to end the conflict in Afghanistan, if Afghans and the international community lend their united support.
- Importance of Afghanistan’s Young Generation
- Great satisfaction to see that Mr. Bakthiar, a representative of this young generation, has so aptly briefed the Council today.
- Average age in Afghanistan is just a little more than 18 years
- More than 40% of its population are under the age of 14
- Therefore, children and young people play a tremendously important role in Afghan society.
- One day, they will be shaping their country’s fate and should be well prepared for assuming this responsibility. Opportunity should be grasped through increased efforts in basic education, child protection and including younger people in the political process, especially younger women.
- We see encouraging signs, but more has to be done.
- Germany actively contributes to the academic infrastructure and formation in Afghanistan. In the field of Information Technology Germany supported the creation of several university IT centers, an IT department at the Ministry of Higher Education, an IT Competence Center in Kabul and the establishment of a computer science Master's program for Afghan lecturers.
Germany continues to support UNAMA and the UN agencies working in Afghanistan. We know that each and every member of the UN family in the country does their best under often very challenging circumstances. Germany remains deeply committed to the Afghan people – in close cooperation with the Afghan government and our international partners. We will make this a focus of our upcoming term as a non-permanent member of the UNSC.