Remarks Delivered by H.E President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani at NATO Summit 2018

12 Jul 2018

NATO Headquarters

Brussels, Belgium

July 12, 2018

 Bismallah-i-Rahman-wa-Rahim [In the name Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful]

Secretary General Stoltenberg, Distinguish Heads of State and Government, Ladies and Gentlemen;

We, the people and Government of Afghanistan have been engaged in an intense effort to re-imagine our country.

Breaking the vicious circle of conflict, corruption and criminality and replacing it with a virtuous circle of participation, partnership, peace and progress is our critical task. Dr. Abdullah and I are here to thank you for your resolute support, express gratitude for the sacrifices of your sons and daughters, especially those that paid the ultimate price, for our freedom and your security to provide a synopsis of our reform efforts.

President Trump’s 2017 South Asia strategy has been a game changer, creating a window of opportunity for us to own our problems, fashion solutions tailored to context, and to design outcome-based reform programs. The strategy has redefined the context by shifting from a time and country-based approach to a condition-based and region wide approach, forcing all actors and stakeholders to reexamine their assumptions and policies. Generous support for the strategy extended by NATO, partner countries and our developmental partners, for which we thank you, has been enabled us to redouble our efforts to overcome the past and forge ahead with a vision of an inclusive democratic polity, a tolerant Islamic society, and a dynamic economy functioning as an Asian Roundabout and a platform for global and regional development and security cooperation. The strategy is working. Your deliberations today to extend support until 2024 will enable us to strive towards self-reliance, convince the Taliban that the only path forward is through a political process, and induce the regional actors of the advantages of cooperation.

Our egalitarian ethos demands democracy. Registration of 8.6 Million voters, 34% women, shows public engagement.

Parliamentary elections and district council elections on October 20, 2018 and presidential elections in 2019 are our imperative. We invite international election organizations to join us in a comprehensive monitoring effort, including serving in executive capacities on the election bodies.

Our security and development partnerships are being refashioned, using roadmaps, time-bound benchmarks and indicators for trust building. We are proud to report that we have either fully met or on course to meet all our commitments. This rigorous approach has enabled us to increase revenue by 70% in three years, implement 14 of the 19 benchmarks of our anti-corruption strategy and retire 535 army and police generals as part of the security sector reform in 2018. We are extending our global and regional partnerships to the arenas of peace, investment, trade and transit.

Acting on the national consensus on peace, we have demonstrated the political will to offer unconditional peace talks and declare a unilateral ceasefire, which the Taliban accepted for the 3-day Eid holiday. For the first time in 40 years, our people experienced the gift of peace. The bold experiment showed the extraordinary capacity of our nation for reconciliation, willingness to forgive and to own the future. The 98% implementation of the ceasefire and successful management of around 33,000 peaceful Taliban into the cities shows that received dogmas regarding potential obstacles need revision. The intense engagement of our Ulama, the worldwide support of Islamic scholars, especially the holy mosques of Mecca and Medina, and the spontaneous, rise of peace movements across the country shows that the time is ripe for peace making. Dr. Abdullah and I will not spare any effort to reach for a comprehensive and sustainable peace.

We are keenly aware of our challenges. Patterns of progress, however, are discernable. Our 342,000 all-volunteer defense and security forces have demonstrated their patriotism through daily sacrifices and are fully on course to meet the objectives of our 4-Year security plan. Our women are making history, by serving as ambassadors, judges, mayors, and ministers. The generational transformations, as marked by 49% of the cabinet being under 40, is taking across the executive and judicial branches of the government. Merit-based recruitment is becoming the norm and we are demonstrating the political will to enforce the rule of law.

The specter of terrorism, unfortunately, haunts our interconnected world, showing us why NATO is needed and why Afghanistan is serving as the frontline state and the first line of defense of freedom and global security. A relationship began in tragedy of 9/11 is being deepened and broadened into a partnership based on mutual interest and mutual values.

Thank you.