The phased approach and thorough and frank discussions which bring us to Paris today to take part in this important Conference have the full potential to mark an historic turning point in the long path to the Afghanistan Renaissance.
The recent involvement of civil society and the fresh interest shown by the private sector in business opportunities are at the same time promising signs of a lively Afghan resurgence and a significant encouragement for Afghan institutions. A full Afghan- owned achievement of stability and progress is our ultimate goal.
We must always recall how different and difficult were the conditions when this complex process initiated over seven years ago. We should also recognise that along with significant progress, both the Afghan Government and the international community have not entirely met all the expectations of the Afghan people for economic and social development. We firmly believe that the awareness of the present state of action is the driving force behind the present effort.
Poor planning and lack of capability determined by decades of conflict explain in part the delays and unsatisfactory levels of accomplishment. Insufficient donor coordination carries its responsibility as well. We fully trust that the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, Kai Eide, will succeed in avoiding the overlapping and inconsistencies among the various initiatives, thus enhancing the implementation of the comprehensive approach elaborated in all relevant international fora. We appreciate his determined efforts to reinvigorate the UNAMA Mission and as rapporteur country for Afghanistan, Italy intends to support his proposals in the appropriate instances of the United Nations. (“Kai you can rely on us”).
Among the participants to this Conference there are countries sharing their border with Afghanistan or positioned in the same geographical area. They are encouraged to a further responsibility for Afghanistan stabilization, bearing in mind that the regional dimension applies to this case as to any other in the world. We will support both bilaterally and at the multilateral level any initiative aimed at good neighbourhood relations and regional cooperation.
You know already that the new Italian Government is ready to commit to more flexibility on the use on its 2.600 soldiers in Afghanistan by changing the existing national caveats.
But we have always believed and stressed that the full realisation of the principles of substantive democracy and of the rule of law are an even more important key to the stabilisation of the country and its economic, social and political progress. The recent finalisation of the ANDS – an Afghan strategic and comprehensive document endorsed, among others, by the International Financial Institutions – is an important guarantee for future development. We trust that the Afghanistan authorities will build with cohesiveness and determination on this strategy within a longer term perspective and that the international community will provide the needed financial support.
We are particularly pleased to see that the National Justice Programme is among the components of this strategy – an objective envisaged in a previous Conference held in Rome last year – and wish to encourage all donors to support it through the relevant trust fund, the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF). I would like to recall that we have already contributed to this fund with 15 of the 27 million dollars of which it consists in its current configuration.
In parallel to this multi-year endeavour, the International Community will continue doing its part. Italy, committed from the very beginning to Afghan reconstruction, has recently decided to extend its financial engagement for the next three years until 2011.
I am also pleased to announce that in this period our level of commitment will be brought up to 50 Million Euros each year, a figure which represents – separate from the security engagement – a 10% increase in our financial effort for Afghanistan with respect to the previous corresponding period. Besides the justice sector, the Italian development cooperation is particularly active in infrastructures - think about the highway Kabul-Bamyan - health, vocational training, resettlement of refugees, agriculture. We are also considering the request to send a number of Carabinieri to train afghan police unit.
The structured framework for development contained in the ANDS will also ease the smooth implementation of the principles of the Paris Declaration for development aid. We intend therefore to make increasing use of the existing Trust Funds as a guarantee for better aid effectiveness.
These decisions, Ladies and Gentlemen, arise from our firm commitment to the Afghanistan Compact - adopted in 2006 - the objectives and benchmarks of which remain valid parameters for measuring effectiveness and success in our bilateral relationship. In a changing environment there is scope for adapting to new conditions and to a time frame extended to 2013. Italy remains available for translating this ‘new deal’ of mutual responsibility into the Compact document.
In exchange for this sustained, reliable and friendly support, we trust that the Afghan Government will undertake urgent and credible measures to ensure the effective implementation of the agreed upon strategies and the wise, transparent and fair use of foreign aid. A new impetus is needed to improve governance, particularly at the local level, demonstrating to the people of Afghanistan the value of democracy and adherence to the rule of law. The objectives to keep in mind at all stages along this difficult course should be: enhancing governance by strengthening the strategic and operational capabilities of central and local governments; curbing with determination the corruption that stands as a powerful obstacle to any progress; and combating the production and trade of narcotics which fuel insecurity. We count on the institutional and personal commitment of President Karzai, who deserves our appreciation for his leadership.
As Afghanistan faces the challenge of administering democratic elections, I am pleased to announce that Italy will contribute to the voter registration procedure with an immediate disbursement of five Million Euros.
We have to recall the loyalty that is due at all time – with no exceptions – to the Afghanistan Constitution and the founding principles of International Community.