International Conference on Afghanistan
London 31 January-1 February 2006
Peacekeeping missions enable a small country, such as Iceland, to join efforts for international peace and stability. They offer us an opportunity to help on the ground through specialised civilian contributions to build security and aid reconstruction in war-torn societies. Thus we have supplied experts of various kinds in several cases, including Afghanistan.
This conference marks the completion of a fantastic phase in the history of Afghanistan from tyranny and oppression to a democratically elected government. Most important for this great transformation has, of course, been the the determination and courage of the Afghani people and its leaders.
International assistance, however, remains crucial for security, reconstruction and the consolidation of democracy. The purpose of this conference is precisely to reassure the Afghanis of the commitment which they so richly deserve from the international community and which is so strongly in the interest of world security due to the war on terror.
The establishment of democracy and stability in Afghanistan is clearly of crucial significance for that struggle.
Iceland is currently contributing a mobile observation team to a PRT in Western Afghanistan. Previously we held administrative command and other tasks at Kabul International Airport from the middle of 2004 and into 2005. It is now decided that beginning this spring Iceland will again provide personnel in support of Kabul airport operations. We have also produced at the request of the Afghan authorities and NATO a plan for how to transition in three to four years the operation of the airport from ISAF to Afghan civilian management. We shall assist in implementing the transition plan by providing expert advise and support. Finally, Iceland has on a number of occasions since late 2001 provided airlift for the transportation of peacekeeping forces, military equipment and humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.
Despite the progress already made by the international community and the Afghanis towards putting their country on a solid path to democracy, serious problems persist and major challenges remain. These include of course the urgent need to strengthen security by defeating terrorists and other criminal elements. Much effort is understandably still called for as regards the establishment of the rule of law, improvement of human rights and the practice of good governance. Then there is the grave problem of narcotics production and trafficking in drugs.
Sustained international engagement and support is needed for Afghanistan and such will be the case for years to come. The “Afghanistan Compact” affirms the obligation of the international community to help and underlines the strong commitment to democracy and prosperity by the Government of Afghanistan. The Compact moreover establishes a framework for partnership between Afghanistan and the international community and provides a blueprint to help meet the challenges of security, governance, and economic and social development.
Allow me finally to join other speakers in thanking the governments of Britain and Afghanistan for convening this conference at a crucial point in Afghan history. The broad high level participation seen here today by the members of the international community is clear testimony to its commitment to Afghanistan for the good of its people, but also for regional and global security.