Speech/statement | Date: 28/11/2018
By Former Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide (Geneva, 28 November)
Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide's address at the high level conference on Afghanistan in Geneva, 28 November 2018.
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- I want to thank President Ghani and his government representatives for your presentations.
- Norway recognises that important progress has been made under difficult circumstances.
- Government institutions have been strengthened. The participation of women and young people in the recent parliamentary elections was a welcome development.
- Education and health services have improved. A space for civil society and free media has been carved out.
- Afghanistan’s macro-economic reforms, increased budget transparency, improved resource mobilisation and strengthened economic performance are all encouraging.
- These are critical building blocks for a more self-reliant Afghanistan.
- At the same time, conflict continues, and poverty remain. Many reforms still need to be carried forward.
- For example, intensified efforts are needed to improve the status of women. Likewise, the fight against corruption requires stronger measures. Norway would like to see more detailed plans and concrete actions on these issues.
- A peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan depends on women – half the population – playing an active role in all sectors.
- Women need to be better represented in government. Women need security and justice.
- We trust that gender will be a priority in all talks on a peaceful settlement, and will be reflected in the negotiating teams.
- The security situation is difficult. International military and civilian assistance remains necessary for ensuring stability and preventing the spread of violent extremism.
- The humanitarian situation, especially the drought crisis and the large number of displaced people, gives cause for concern. Humanitarian assistance and protection must benefit all those in need, particularly the most vulnerable. This in turn depends on safe and unhindered access.
- I was informed first hand of the gravity of this humanitarian situation on my recent visit to Kabul.
- Norway will respond by adding approximately 5,6 million US dollars to our humanitarian contribution to Afghanistan for fiscal year 2018. The extra funding will be channelled to among others the UNHCR (in response to the growing needs of the displaced population).
- This brings our humanitarian funding to Afghanistan to a total of approximately 24 million USD in 2018.
- There is a general recognition that the conflict should be resolved through a political settlement. We have seen positive steps, starting with the Afghan Government’s unconditional peace negotiation offer.
- Norway urges the Taliban to take up this offer. We welcome the engagement of the United States and Afghanistan’s regional partners.
- It is important that a peace process is Afghan-owned and Afghan-led, and that the Afghan people are consulted.
- Norway stands ready to contribute in a constructive way at the parties’ request.
- If a peaceful settlement is reached, its implementation may turn out to be the even greater challenge.
- Regional connectivity and investment will be crucial for a post-conflict Afghanistan.
- International partners may also look into how international assistance can be tailored to support the implementation of a sustainable peace.
- My visit to Afghanistan last week reflects the importance Norway attaches to our cooperation.
- Norway will remain a strong development partner, as long as Afghanistan follows up on its reform commitments.
- The issue of migration and returns is a common challenge, and Norway appreciates our cooperation in this important area.
- Norway intends to uphold our high level of assistance with an annual contribution of approximately 85 million USD in development and humanitarian support in the period up to the end of 2020.
- Norway’s development assistance will remain closely aligned with Afghan priorities, and will focus on vital areas, such as education, governance, job creation, integrated rural development and gender equality.