Iceland, as a member of the European Economic Area, EEA, fully aligned itself with the statement made by my colleague Ambassador van den Berg on behalf of the European Union. Let me however emphasize a few points.
First of all we would like to express our appreciation to the Secretary-General for his frank and informative report on the situation in Afghanistan and to the Special Representative for his statement this morning.
It is clear from the report that the situation gives rise to considerable concern. A central concern is the security situation, both short term and long term.
In the short term it is essential that the PRTs (The Provincial Reconstruction Teams) be reinforced and that a secure environment be established in which peace-building can progress. I would, on behalf of my Government, like to take this opportunity to deplore the increasingly frequent attacks on UN and NGO staff in recent weeks, and express regret, though at the same time understanding, at the withdrawal of MSF (Medecins Sans Frontieres), one of the most courageous of the NGOs with over twenty years of experience in the country.
Iceland is committed to making its contribution to establishing peace in Afghanistan. Icelandic Foreign Minister Halldór Ásgrímsson traveled to Kabul this June to be present at the hand-over of management of Kabul Airport on 1 June to an Icelandic team. The operating of the airport is key to the successful operation of ISAF (The International Security Assistance Force commanded by NATO) and Iceland is strongly committed to this project. I am proud to say that the airport is being run successfully on a 24/7 basis, although I should say this is despite a far from fully manned team.
The long term human security environment is crucially effected not only by the activities of extremist elements, such as the Taliban or Al Qaeda, but also by the flourishing of criminality, funded principally by the narcotics trade. This illicit trade has three aspects – production capacity, trade routes and users. We must address all aspects if we are to defeat this corosive threat to the long term stability of the country. Production capacity can only be effectively reduced long term through providing farmers with viable alternatives. Part of the equation which has the potential to make drugs production less economically attractive is the fluidity of trade routes. Putting the screws on the trade routes would surely help. And of course the demand end of this dirty business needs to be addressed more effectively.
Another crucial factor in establishing long-term security is successful DDR (Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration). It is my impression that the most difficult of the three related processes, that is reintegration, is also in some ways the most important. Soldiers who hand in guns must be given constructive and meaningful roles in society – or the danger is that they will simply acquire new guns – of which there is a plentiful supply.
The Secretary General’s report makes it clear that there are no easy answers. However, there are brighter aspects as we have heard this morning from Mr. Jean Arnault. We would like to commend all those who have worked so hard on the voter registration. The successful registration of over 10 million voters, 41 % of them women, is truly remarkable.
On this more positive note, I thank you for your attention.