Statement by the Permanent Representative of Lithuania at the UN General Assembly debate on the situation in Afghanistan
At the outset, I would like to thank the delegation of Germany for outstanding work on the resolution on the situation in Afghanistan, which Lithuania has cosponsored.
Lithuania aligns itself with a statement (to be) delivered on behalf of the European Union.
We welcome Chief Executive of Afghanistan, H. E. Mr. Abdullah Abdullah, to the UN General Assembly debate.
Lithuania commends the National Unity Government of Afghanistan for implementing substantial reforms in different areas, with a view to transitioning the country into a peaceful and democratic society. The efforts in the fight against corruption and impunity are encouraging. Further progress, however, is needed in the areas of democracy, rule of law, human rights and women's empowerment. But first and foremost, none of the goals can be achieved without a stable security situation, which is vital for development of the nation.
As the Secretary-General indicated in his last report, the conflict continued throughout the country, with thousands of civilians killed and injured, and hundreds of thousands displaced. Ordinary Afghans bear the brunt as armed clashes, improvised explosive devices, suicide attacks and assassinations continue unabated. Increasing number of women and children casualties is an extremely worrying fact. Terrorist attacks continue to destabilize the country, with the Taliban, Al Qaeda, ISIL-KP and others claiming responsibility for most brutal of them.
The cycle of violence must end, and dialogue commence. Peace can only be achieved through direct negotiations, and we encourage the Government of Afghanistan and the Taliban to proceed in this regard.
Fostering stable and effective institutions of government that can overcome the threats from Islamist terrorist groups active in the country would lead to success.
Leaders of Afghanistan must assume responsibility in order to achieve long-term peace and stability in the country. Only Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process can ensure sustainable solutions in multiple fields of the development of the state.
Commending the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces for their courage and resilience in maintaining full responsibility for the security throughout the country, we also stress that they must continue to be strengthened. One of the contributions of the international community to that end is through the Resolute Support Mission, which provides training, advice and assistance.
Lithuania on its part continues to assist Afghanistan in building professionally trained and equipped defense and security forces. This year again we contributed 0.5 million USD to Afghanistan National Army Trust Fund and intend to do so over the next years. We also increased our military presence (from 21 to 29) within the framework of RSM.
Reforming the electoral process should stay high on the national agenda. As country prepares for the upcoming parliamentary and district council elections next year, we hope that every effort is made for them to be hold timely in an inclusive, transparent and credible manner. It is imperative that no political divisions destabilize the situation and that timely elections will bring tangible results towards democratization of the country.
In the context of forthcoming elections, we expect that the reintroduction of the 25% quota in the Parliament will serve as a much-needed impetus to securing women’s rights in Afghanistan. Although we acknowledge the progress achieved on Afghan women’s rights and empowerment, at the same time, advances in promoting women’s rights remain uneven. A new women, peace and security index unveiled at the United Nations recently indicates that Afghan women’s inclusion, access to justice and security in the home, community and society remain at the bottom of the list of countries.
We congratulate Afghanistan’s first television network for and by women, Zan TV, (meaning “women’s TV” in Farsi) and female Afghan journalists that are challenging stereotypes imposed on them, through several new media projects. The network, which covers topics from women’s rights to children’s shows, is set to transform attitudes in the country.
On the other hand, we are concerned about the situation of journalists and media workers – people, who face increased risk in their daily life. This year marked an increase in attacks on journalist and media outlets. We encourage the Afghan authorities to strengthen their efforts to investigate attacks against journalists and related media workers and bring the perpetrators to account.
The rising problem of widespread drug production in the country has a negative impact on development, health and security. Concerted efforts of the Government of Afghanistan and international community are needed in generating alternative sources of income, creating viable economic opportunities and jobs, fostering a business-friendly environment. That should give a prospect for the population and at the same time reduce migration from the country.
In conclusion, Mr. President, Lithuania continues supporting the efforts of the Afghan people to achieve the lasting peace and prosperity. Lithuanian companies work with Afghanistan to improve the quality of Afghan passports as well as solve cyber security issues. Moreover, our state institutions stand ready to assist with reform processes and share our experience in a number of areas.
A stable, peaceful, and prosperous Afghanistan is our shared priority and interest.
I thank you for your attention.
New York, 20 November 2017