Speech/statement | Date: 12/09/2020
By Former Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide (Doha, 12 September 2020)
Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide's Statement for the Opening Ceremony of Intra-Afghan Negotiations.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today is a day of cautious hope. For all of us who have an end to Afghanistan’s four decades of conflict as our goal, this is a milestone and an historic opportunity, although on a journey that will still be long and challenging at times. The fact that we are together today is testimony that when there is sufficient will and dedication, challenges may be overcome. I would like to congratulate the Afghan parties for having arrived at this stage, and I am happy to see Dr Abdullah and Mullah Barader and their delegations here today. Your responsibility is heavy, but the support from the international community equally strong.
In order to get to this day, you have made difficult decisions, compromises, and sacrifices. Thousands of prisoners have been released as a confidence-building measure. I hope that a spirit of compromise and flexibility on all sides will be present throughout the negotiations, so that trust can be built and real cooperation can become possible.
Today is also a day of gratitude to others who have helped on the way. I commend in particular the State of Qatar – and you, Sheikh Mohammad, and your team led by Ambassador Mutlaq Al Qahtani – for your tireless efforts to make this peace process possible.
The US has played a vital role, and I extend a particular gratitude to Secretary Pompeo and to Special Representative Khalilzad and his team. I would also like to acknowledge the role of Pakistan at critical points of the process. The support of all countries in the region and of the international community for the process will remain important.
It is important for success that the negotiations will be led and owned by Afghans, and that Afghans shape their own future. Afghanistan is a great country, and it owes its greatness not least to its diversity of peoples. All ethnic groups have their own proud history, traditions and customs, to be respected and cherished. I am confident that the parties approach these negotiations with the welfare of the country and its people at heart. I trust that the parties will strive for an end to violence, and for a settlement that protects the rights of all Afghans, including women, youth and minorities, and sustains and builds on the economic, social, political and development gains achieved since 2001.
I strongly believe that inclusion of women, victims, minorities and other stakeholders in the process is important to ensure ownership and the successful implementation of a future peace accord. Experiences gained from processes of peace and reconciliation elsewhere provide overwhelming evidence that the likelihood of lasting and sustainable peace is significantly enhanced when all groups, regardless of ethnicity, gender, or religious affiliation, are adequately included.
I am honoured that Norway has been invited to today’s event. It is a reflection of our longstanding commitment to Afghanistan. And that commitment does not end today. When the peaceful solution that we all hope these negotiations will lead to is in place, Afghanistan will need assistance from the international community to make peace lasting and sustainable. I am pleased and privileged that Norway forms part of an informal host country support group together with friends and partners from Germany, Qatar, Indonesia, Uzbekistan, and the United Nations. Going forward, we stand ready to contribute if the parties deem that we can be useful in any way.
As of next year, Norway will take a seat at the United Nations Security Council. We will use that position to support the work of the United Nations, the Special Representative of the Secretary General, and UNAMA. If the Security Council can be used in order to further and advance the Afghanistan peace process, we will do our utmost to make that happen.
I extend my best wishes to all the negotiating delegates. I wish you all success in your difficult, but extremely important, task.