Remarks Of Turkish Foreign Minister Babacan At The Afghanistan Conference Under The Auspices Of The U.N., The Hague, 31 March 2009


Mr. Chairman, Dear colleagues,

I would first like to express my thanks to the Netherlands for hosting this conference on Afghanistan under the auspices of the United Nations and bringing together such a large group of countries and organizations.


Before this conference, I have participated in the Special Conference of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization on Afghanistan in Moscow. The conclusions of this Conference should be taken into consideration in our common efforts for the good of Afghanistan on the other hand, Turkey welcomes and supports the vision brought about by the new U.S. strategy on Afghanistan and Pakistan. We commend the leadership of President Obama and Secretary Clinton for this new strategy.


Ladies and Gentlemen, we are happy to see that the approach of the international community to Afghanistan is being refocused. We have been advocating all along that military means alone is not enough. The civilian efforts in the political, diplomatic, economic and social fields are imperative. While Afghanistan develops its army and police, ultimately the solution for Afghanistan has to be a political solution.


All efforts in these fields should focus on supporting Afghan owned solutions. Ultimately, it is the government and people of Afghanistan that have to find lasting solutions and live with them.  The International Community can merely support these efforts.


Lasting solutions will inevitably have to include the vast majority of the Afghan population across various segments. This is especially relevant bearing in mind the elections to take place this year and in 2010.


In the security field, training and equipment support for Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police is critical. A coordinated new effort is required. This will enable them to fully assume the responsibility of protecting and serving the civilian population. Turkey will stand ready to increase her contributions for the training aspect of such a collective effort.


A similar training and equipping program is also essential for the civil service to fulfill their functions. This is especially true at the provincial and district levels. We have initiated work in this regard with the relevant Afghan authorities. 


However, the priority should be a well-coordinated major economic development program. Such a program should focus on improving the agricultural sector and building the capacity of the private sector. A major drive in the education sector should complement this, so that the future workforce of a sustainable economy can be prepared. Turkey is ready to play a leading role in the education sphere.


Progress should spread soon even into the most remote areas. That will be very important to win the hearts and minds of the Afghan people.


The security problems in Afghanistan are affecting other regional countries and vice versa. This requires a strengthened regional approach. In this regard, international support for Pakistan’s efforts to curb terrorist activities on its soil is also essential.  


With the regional approach in mind, Turkey initiated the trilateral Summits together with Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Summits have three pillars: dialogue, security and development. The trilateral Summit in İstanbul last December, focused primarily on development projects. We will hold the next Summit in Ankara tomorrow. This time the focus will be on regional security. Together with Presidents Karzai, Zardari and Gul, the top military and intelligence officials of the three countries will also attend the Summit.


The last point I would like to make is a call on the United Nations. UN capabilities and personnel in the field throughout Afghanistan need to be beefed up.


Thank you