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I have the honour to speak on behalf of the EU and its 28 Member States.
The Candidate Countries the Republic of North Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Serbia* and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.
I would like to thank the Secretary-General for his comprehensive report. I would also like to thank Special Representative Yamamoto and Executive Director of the UNODC Yuri Fedotov for their briefings and AF Ambassador Adela Raz for her statement. They all brought important elements to our attention.
The EU strongly acknowledges the crucial role played by UNAMA and all the UN agencies in supporting the Afghan people, encouraging peace and reconciliation, monitoring and promoting human rights, and in implementing the commitments from the 2018 November Ministerial Conference on Afghanistan. The EU wishes to have the closest possible relationship with UNAMA, in a spirit of transparent and open cooperation on the ground and in international formats for the ultimate benefit of Afghanistan.
The European Union remains a steadfast supporter of the current efforts to achieve lasting peace in Afghanistan. In light of the current momentum in the peace process, it is more important than ever for the EU that the political, economic and social achievements of the last 18 years, for which Afghans and the international community have made enormous sacrifices, in particular the rights of women, children and minorities, are preserved. It is crucial to continue to enhance and build on these achievements.
This approach has been clearly expressed by the EU and its member states, notably through Council Conclusions in November 2018 and April 2019 and the EU "5-point" offer to support the peace process, as announced by HRVP Mogherini at the Geneva ministerial meeting in November 2018, namely: helping the government making the peace process more inclusive; supporting post-conflict reforms, including SSR; the reintegration of ex-combatants; a possible EU role as guarantor of the peace process; and supporting cross-border trade and infrastructure as well as regional connectivity.
While political will and strong leadership are needed, any peace deal will be lasting only if it is owned by all parts of the Afghan society, and not perceived as being imposed on the population. All Afghans need to feel included in the peace process. Nothing could demonstrate Afghan ownership more than achieving a nationwide ceasefire putting an end to violence by the time inter-Afghan reconciliation talks are launched. The EU is ready to play an active role in supporting the peace efforts and to facilitate consultation processes and dialogues that will contribute to inclusivity by involving all segments of the Afghan civil society. Particular attention should be given to the full involvement of women in line with UNSC resolution 1325 on Women Peace and Security as well as to the protection of their constitutional rights.
The EU strongly believes that the pursuit of peace must not be done at the expense of Afghanistan's democratic development. Therefore, we fully support the holding of fair and transparent presidential elections to strengthen the legitimacy of the state institutions, as well as the democratic development and the political stability of Afghanistan. To this end the EU will continue providing support (over 18 million EUR) to address some of the technical difficulties of the previous (parliamentary) elections in October 2018.
Cessation of violence and achieving lasting peace is key. The EU stands ready to continue its long-term commitment to Afghanistan after a peace agreement has been signed. As we have said before, if there are expectations for the EU to provide substantial financial, political, diplomatic and development support after a successful conclusion of a peace agreement, the EU needs to be involved at all stages of the peace process.
This year has been important for EU-Afghanistan bilateral relations with the visit of HRVP Federica Mogherini to Kabul and several bilateral meetings in the framework of the EU-Afghanistan Cooperation Agreement on Partnership and Development (CAPD). The EU Special Envoy for Afghanistan Roland Kobia continues to visit Kabul and the region to support the peace process.
As the progress continues towards a political settlement, the coordination between development, security and political actors is crucial. The EU continues its close cooperation with key international partners. In this regard we reiterate our support to the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission efforts to provide further training, advice and assistance for the Afghan security forces and institutions.
The EU is a strong development partner for Afghanistan and our development cooperation responds to the officially defined and presented Afghan Government's priorities.
The EU will continue its strong commitment to on-budget support, based on the Afghan progress and impact in the implementation of its policies. The EU is currently starting to work on the next programming cycle for Afghanistan, which will cover the period from 2021 to 2027, and the potential priorities in the context of a peace agreement.
The EU continues its structured dialogue with Afghanistan under the Cooperation Agreement on Partnership and Development (CAPD). We are also following up on the outcome of the EU-Afghanistan Special Working Group on Human Rights, Good Governance and Migration held on 5 May in Kabul. In particular, we encourage the Afghan authorities to continue to implement the relevant legislation, with particular focus on areas such as: the elimination of violence against women, implementation of the National Action Plan 1325, protection of children and the prevention of torture and ill treatment. Promoting the rule of law and ending impunity for corruption will also be core elements of a future sustainable peace.
The EU remains deeply concerned about the high level of civilian casualties and the increasing number of displaced people and reiterates the need to protect the civilian population, especially women and children.
We need to continue to protect the vital role of humanitarian agencies and respect their impartiality and the humanitarian space in addressing the most urgent needs of the most vulnerable.
To conclude, Mr. President,
This is a very important moment for Afghanistan.
Yet any peace negotiations and agreement will only be viable and accepted by the population if it supports and maintains the values and achievements of the past two decades. The democratization of Afghanistan should continue along with better protection of the rights of all Afghans and safeguarding the country's democratic institutions. For peace to be enduring the full support of all States in the region is needed.
Thank you very much.
* The Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.