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President [of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Ashraf] Ghani, [United Nations] Secretary-General [António] Guterres, Excellencies, Ministers, distinguished participants, and supporters of peace in Afghanistan from all over the world,
I wish to thank the Government of Afghanistan, Finland and the United Nations for organizing this Conference and giving the opportunity to the international community to send a strong signal of support to the people of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
As we discuss the future of Afghanistan today, millions of Afghans are suffering from unacceptable levels of violence and the uncertainty inflicted upon their everyday lives and perspectives by decades of war.
Dear Afghan friends - I would like today’s Conference to strengthen your hope for a better future.
You need to be able to trust your elected leaders and international partners. And we must not disappoint you. We all need to provide for real opportunities and prospects for a peaceful life in Afghanistan.
This also means that, not only our financial support, but also our security and military action in Afghanistan needs to be managed wisely and with long-term considerations in mind.
The ongoing peace process requires more signs of trust and commitment to peace by the Taliban. Violence must stop, not tomorrow, but right now.
We support the call by United Nations Secretary General Guterres and the United Nations Security Council for an “immediate, unconditional and nation-wide ceasefire”. A ceasefire should not be the outcome of the peace process; a ceasefire should accompany the process as from today.
A genuine partner for peace should not only spare internationals from attacks, but also stop attacking and to killing its own compatriots.
The outcome of the peace process should be owned by the population at large. In order to achieve the necessary legitimacy, the process must be inclusive.
The voices of women, youth, minorities and victims of war must be heard and their rightful demands addressed. Only a broad-based, national consensus on the foundations of the future Afghanistan will lead to lasting peace.
I would like to reaffirm today the European Union’s commitment to continue to support the Afghan people, both politically and financially. We want to help to build a sovereign, unified and democratic Afghanistan on a path towards prosperity and self-reliance.
Afghanistan’s future trajectory must preserve the democratic and human rights gains since 2001, most notably as regards women’s and children’s rights. As the United Nations Security Council said, any attempt to restore an Islamic Emirate would have an impact on our political and financial engagement.
This also applies to the need for continued progress on governance, including a more effective fight against corruption.
Ladies and gentlemen, peace and prosperity in Afghanistan are also important for the stability and security of the region and beyond. It will help tackle the considerable challenges of terrorism and violent extremism, irregular migration to Europe, as well as trafficking in human beings and narcotics.
I would like to finish with a verse from poet [Djalal ad-Din Muḥammad] Rumi. He said: “As you start to walk on the way, the way appears”. Let’s all start today to walk on the way of a prosperous and stable Afghanistan to make sure that, with our support, it will appear.
Thank you very much.
Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-199260