Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at UN Security Council open debate on the situation in Afghanistan
We welcome your personal participation in this meeting.
11 September 2021 will mark 20 years since the tragic events in New York that claimed almost 3000 lives of innocent people. We are grateful to Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield and colleagues from the US Mission for providing us with an opportunity to visit the 9/11 memorial today and pay tribute to the memory of victims of the heinous terrorist attack. We express our condolences with the people and government of the United States, as well as families who lost their loved ones.
Terrorism is a fundamental evil which can be eradicated only by joining efforts notwithstanding the political factors. The tragic events of 9/11 stand in a direct relation to the topic of this meeting, because they gave an impetus to the US campaign in Afghanistan that lasted for 20 years.
We thank Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) Ms. Deborah Lyons for her insights and assessments of the situation in Afghanistan.
We closely followed the remarks by civil society representatives, Ms. Wazhma Frogh and Ms. Malala Yousafzai.
We welcome that representatives of the states of the region have a say in discussing this hot-button issue today.
All of us keep close track of the rapidly changing situation in Afghanistan. Today’s meeting convenes against the backdrop of Taliban announcing the composition of interim government on 7 September. At this point, new power mechanisms are being formed. We have expected and we continue to trust that they will be inclusive and will reflect the interests of the entire Afghan nation with its ethnical and political forces. This is a prerequisite for achieving peace in the country.
We have always stresses that we want stability for Afghanistan. This is the most important task which we all share. We cannot afford ignoring the new reality. However, prerequisites and root causes of this new reality did not appear just yesterday. What happened clearly demonstrates that the Afghan community does not accept external management and control of its ways of development. Only Afghans themselves can determine the fate of their country. Thereby decisions must be made on an inclusive basis with due account for interests of all social strata, all ethnical groups, of course while ensuring women’s rights and upholding basic human rights.
We note all steps made by the new authorities, who among other things announced an end of hostilities, restoring order in the country, a general amnesty for governmental officials, plans to eradicate drugs. We also hear about security guarantees for diplomatic staff. We trust that in the current situation, they will also guarantee security for the UN presence in Afghanistan and ensure immunity of its offices.
At this stage, it is vital that we focus on the most pressing problems, related in the first place to providing humanitarian assistance to all those who urgently need it. According to the information that we have, humanitarians themselves do not encounter serious problems while carrying out their activity. Systematic efforts to establish contacts with the new authorities throughout the country in order to expand humanitarian access are underway. Humanitarian efforts need financial support in the first place. We expect that the key donors will render the necessary assistance to Afghanistan’s socio-economic recovery in deeds rather than in words.
As we see, in spite of the endless financial injections and foreign military presence that lasted for more than 20 years, the issues of poverty, extreme poverty and scarcity of food have not been resolved. Current circumstances impede finding solutions to these problems due to the basic lack of funds. In fact, Afghanistan is on the verge of an economic collapse. Further degradation of the socio-economic and humanitarian situation bodes no good. On the contrary, it will inevitably trigger destabilization, a larger humanitarian crisis and as a result, aggravation of the migration situation in the region and the entire world. We trust that access to all Afghanistan’s frozen assets will be enabled soon. This falls within interests of the Afghan people.
Unfortunately, the terrorist and drug threats have not dissipated over those years. As a matter of fact, they exacerbated further.
The remaining presence of “ISIL-Khorasan” in the country still raises our concern. Terrorist activity of this group threatens to spill beyond Afghanistan’s borders and thus jeopardize security of Afghanistan's neighbors in Central Asia and beyond. We must not forget that ISIL is not interested in having peace and stability in Afghanistan, and it still pursues its main goal – to establish a global caliphate. We are genuinely interested in having an Afghanistan that would never again be a hotbed of terrorism.
Risk of militants infiltrating the region, i.a. disguised as refugees, cannot but raise concern of our partners in Central Asia. We maintain regular contacts with all five Central Asian states. Cooperation at the level of regional organizations – CSTO and SCO, including CSTO Working Group on Afghanistan and renewed mechanism of “SCO-Afghanistan” contact group – is relevant today as never before.
The problem of manufacturing and smuggle of Afghan drugs is inextricably linked to terrorism. Afghanistan remains the world's largest supplier of opiates. More than two thirds of Afghan provinces produce drugs. We have raised this issue repeatedly, but no one would like to listen to us. Traditionally scarce coverage of this issue in the Secretary-General’s report is very regrettable. Unfortunately, efforts of the previous government turned out insufficient to oppose this evil. What’s more, the volume of drug crops has increased manifold. We count on the new authorities to resolve this problem as they proclaimed they would do, and rid the region of the threats coming from the Afghan territory.
The situation in Afghanistan is being discusses at almost every international platform, and proposals to launch new platforms spring up like mushrooms. Many states, including those that are very remote from this region, are trying to find a quick-fix solution to the Afghan problem, utilizing the standard gauges and imposing their own recipes. Many mistakes were made that the Afghan people had to pay off for. We suggest having patience. We call to stick to thoroughly considered and weighed approaches with due account for all the lessons learned. Should such miscounts repeat, the price to pay will be much higher this time.
On its part, the Russian Federation remains interested in soonest stabilization in Afghanistan and its post-conflict recovery. It is in our interests that this country never be a source of threats for the region and the world.