Statement by Ambassador Hjálmar W. Hannesson,
Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations
5641st Meeting of the Security Council
The situation in Afghanistan
Let me first of all thank you for holding this debate and thereby affording us an opportunity to openly discuss the situation in Afghanistan.
I would like to join previous speakers in thanking Special Representative Mr. Koenigs and Mr. Costa from the UN Office for Drugs and Crime for their reports this morning. We fully share their assessments.
Iceland, a member of the European Economic Area, aligned itself with the statement made by Ambassador Matussek on behalf of the EU. We also align ourselves with what the Ambassador from Norway just said on promoting the participation of Afghan women in their society. I will therefore limit myself to a very few and brief points.
A number of previous speakers have stated that we are once again at a critical juncture in Afghanistan and that a thorough and comprehensive international approach with the government of Afghanistan is needed, encompasing firstly security of the whole country and reversing the negative trend of increased Taliban and extremist activities; secondly stronger countermeasures against the trafficking and production of narcotics are urgently needed; thirdly corruption throughout Afghanistan must be addressed seriously; fourthly legal economic activities should be strengthened and thereby more government revenue will be created; fifthly infrastructure in Afghanistan must be enhanced and sixthly the government of Afghanistan must be able to rely on long term international support. In this connection Afghaninstan’s neighbours, UNAMA, ISAF, EU and others are key.
Iceland has two persons in the NATO Headquarters in Kabul. One is a political advisor in the Special Representative’s office, mainly focusing on the Aviation Sector of Afghanistan. The other is Chief Administator in the Public Information Office, dealing with media and internal information for HQ.
Currently Iceland holds six positions at Kabul Airport, and as of 1 April, there will be 7 positions manned by Icelanders. The staff deployed to Kabul International Airport mainly work on overseeing maintenance, operations and support at the airport and the camp at KAIA. They deal with engineering, logistics, motorpool, billeting and overview of the manpower of KAIA to name a few tasks. Iceland is currently in co-operation with NATO looking into how the transition of the airport to Afghan authorities can be prepared, by starting training of local staff. This is a part of a bigger overall plan for Kabul International Airport as such, and requires the assistance of many international organisations, such as ICAO. Iceland will follow closely the preparation for such a transition and is ready to commit more people to work within such a transition and even manage it.
Iceland has for the past 1 ½ year operated a MLOT team (Mobile Liason and Observation Team) of 6 people in the PRT (Provincial Reconstruction Team) in Chagcharan under Lithuanian control, as well as deploying one developement officer to the PRT to assist with reconstruction and development plans in the area. A decision has been taken to discontinue the MLOT team and look to assisting in more civilian assignments and positions instead, if possible.
This is currently being looked into and information has been sought from Lithuanian officials on the positions that need to be filled within the PRT and could be available for Iceland.
Thank you Mr. President.