Statement of H.E. Jonas Gahr Støre, Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs at Bonn Conference on Afghanistan
Mr President, Chairman, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to thank the Government of Germany and the city of Bonn for hosting this conference. I would also like to thank President Karzai for chairing the conference, highlighting Afghan ownership today and tomorrow.
I would also like to congratulate Afghanistan on the decision made last week to take responsibility for security in more parts of your country. By early next year half of the Afghan population will live in areas secured by Afghan forces. This is a historic achievement in line with our shared political ambitions.
This means that we can continue to reduce the international military presence. Norway is involved in this ongoing transition. We will be reducing our military forces as part of a process to be completed by 2014.
Mr Chairman, let me briefly make five points in this respect.
First, the transition process is not the end of our engagement. Norway’s partnership with Afghanistan will remain strong, also beyond 2014.
Second, partnership requires that Afghanistan also does its part. Your government must intensify the fight against corruption and ensure good governance, at all levels. Credible democratic institutions must be established, throughout the country. This is all about earning the trust of your people.
Third, you have our full support in reaching a political solution to the conflict. However, a sustainable solution – a durable solution – can only be reached if all parties to the conflict are included. Arms must be replaced with politics. Words must take the place of weapons.
Fourth, a sustainable solution must respect the Afghan constitution. We all know the red lines that have to be respected in a political agreement. An important one is women’s rights. Yesterday I met with a network of Afghan women, as I have done on my visits to Afghanistan. They are worried. They are concerned about the peace process and the influence of the Taliban. They shared with me their core positions on a political solution.
Women have to participate in determining Afghanistan’s future – in politics and all sectors of society – as in all other countries. Basic universal human rights, including the right to education, must be respected.
I assured these women that Norway will support their efforts. This will be one of Norway’s main priorities. Difficult but decisive. 10 years after the adoption of UN Security Council resolution 1325, no context illustrates better than Afghanistan how imperative it is to translate the words of that resolution into practice.
Fifth and finally, regional cooperation is essential for ensuring stability – not just in Afghanistan, but in all its neighbouring countries. Norway will continue to work closely with Afghanistan to make the regional cooperation process a success.
Thank you, Mr Chairman.
Source: Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs