Statement by Deputy Permanent Representative Anna Evstigneeva at UNSC briefing on the situation in Afghanistan
We thank Executive Director of UNODC Ghada Fathi Waly for her assessments of the situation with drugs in Afghanistan. We followed closely the remarks by Deputy Head of UNAMA, Mr. Markus Potzel, as well as civil society representative, Ms. Fawzia Koofi.
We took note of Secretary-General’s report on the situation in the long-suffering Afghanistan. On our part, we would like to make the following points.
On 29 August, the Security Council held a rather meaningful discussion dedicated to the anniversary of the ignominious 20-year long campaign in Afghanistan and its sad consequences – the consequences that the people of Afghanistan have been dealing with until this day.
Today, our Western colleagues under the lead of the United States still deplore (i.a. when speaking from the General Assembly podium) the horrendous results of the 12 months that the Taliban has been staying in power. At the same time, they try to shift responsibilities and blame the new authorities for the failure of the 20-year-long war and the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan.
The current political situation in Afghanistan is very complicated indeed. Security risks cause growing concern. Terrorist attacks carried out by the fighters of ISIL-Khorasan are again disturbing the country. Those heinous attacks target representatives of religious and ethnic minorities, including women and children. At the beginning of September, two employees of the Russian Embassy in Kabul died tragically at the hands of terrorists. It is clear that ISIL seeks to use all of its resources in order to shatter the domestic situation in Afghanistan, instill the feeling of fear and despair in the population, and create a hotbed of instability, which can ultimately spread to the Central Asia and then Russia. We perceive it as an attempt to demonstrate the inability of the Talib authorities to control the situation in the country.
We are also concerned by the increase of drug production, which has reached an unprecedented volume. The efforts made by the authorities in this regard seem to be not enough. It is not surprising; because the former administration in Kabul and its sponsors from Washington had the drug problem swept under the carpet for years and only turned to it for money laundering. We welcome the participation of UNODC representatives in this discussion. We count on their targeted assistance in the context of international efforts to counter the drug threat.
Socio-economic situation in Afghanistan does not stand up to any criticism. Even though the Security Council increased the number of channels for providing humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan without preconditions by adopting its resolution 2615, in reality the UN OCHA and other humanitarians still encounter a great deal of problems and fear to get under sanctions. We see that Western donors are not interested in expanding the aid to make it cover more than just basic needs and the early recovery program.
Against this backdrop, the situation with frozen assets looks absolutely outrageous. It might seem that after numerous calls to the United States and its allies from the Afghans, American academia and civil society, there would be some progress with this issue. Alas, what followed was just a claim about the transfer of Afghan funds to an account in a Swiss bank. Reportedly, this money will not be accessible to the Afghan authorities and will be spent on some ephemeral socio-economic and humanitarian projects. We call to return the stolen assets to the Afghan people immediately.
As an argument, we constantly hear the Taliban leadership being accused of committing systematic violations of human rights, especially the rights of women and girls. These problems of present-day Afghanistan are very serious and need to be resolved. However we must not turn a blind eye to the fact that after 20 years of democratization, Afghan women and girls risk losing their main right – the right to life.
However, the methods that Washington uses to support its allies against the unwanted regimes have long ceased to surprise us. Those methods are well known – unilateral sanctions, political pressure and ultimatums. At the same time, when it comes to evidence of war crimes committed by the US and NATO in Afghanistan, our colleagues meticulously blot it out from the history of that country and make sure it does not surface in the UN and ICC reports. As if there were no such crimes. We expect that the ICC will unfreeze its activities aimed at collection of evidence and investigation of the war crimes of the US and NATO in Afghanistan. We hope that the perpetrators will not escape accountability.
Lasting peace in Afghanistan is not possible unless the global community helps the Afghans with post-conflict recovery and economic development, solving the old problems of drugs and terrorism. Thereby it is important to continue dialogue with the new authorities without resorting to blackmail. The story of US relations with the Taliban should have taught the United States that blackmail is futile. They need to work with Afghans patiently so the latter can create a state that should be politically and ethnically inclusive, free from terrorism and drugs, respectful to and protective of the rights of its people, including religious and ethnic minorities, women and children. The work of UNAMA should proceed from such constructive, pragmatic and comprehensive approaches. We do count on the efforts of UNAMA’s new chief, Ms.R.Otunbayeva, who has a deep understanding of the local specifics, and peculiarities of the country and the region at large.
However, those episodes must not be used as preconditions for solving pressing humanitarian and economic problems. In this regard, attempts to connect the travel of the Taliban delegation to peace and security talks to the situation in the area of human rights are unacceptable. This is a malicious approach that prevents regional stakeholders from promoting settlement in an effective manner.
Russia stands for furthering ties with the brotherly Afghan people. We have and we will support Afghanistan in its comprehensive settlement. Also, we keep providing humanitarian assistance to the Afghans, despite the attempts to exclude Russia, one of the world’s major agricultural powers, from the global trade; and despite the obstacles they create to prevent us from cooperating with the World Food Program.
We will keep interacting with Afghanistan in the framework of our bilateral contacts with the de facto authorities and other Afghans, in the regional formats, including the Moscow format, meetings of regional neighbors; via CSTO and SCO, and through engagement with OIC states.
Right of reply:
I cannot leave unanswered the claim of my American colleagues that Russia allegedly has brought nothing to Afghanistan.
I already said it at the previous UNSC meeting on this issue, but let me repeat that we must recall what Afghanistan was like when the Soviet Union withdrew. I am sure there are Afghans who still remember it. The United States cannot be proud of the methods they used to counter the Soviet legacy back in 1990s and of what Afghanistan came to, i.a. with their help. Nor can they be proud of the state of affairs they left Afghanistan in last year. But it is not about who is better and who is worse. The thing is – we are opposed to Washington shifting to whoever the responsibility for what was done in those 20 years.