Statement by Ambassador Tacan İldem, Permanent Representative of Turkey, in response to H.E. Dilbar Nazari, Minister of Women’s Affairs in Afghanistan, 1053rd Permanent Council

Tacan İldem 21.05.2015
Thank you Mr. Chairperson.

I would like to welcome Minister Nazari to the Permanent Council, and thank her for her comprehensive and thought-provoking presentation.

Afghanistan stands at a crucial crossroads, with key political, security and economic transformation processes underway. Turkey believes that the political transition process has gained a special momentum with the Presidential elections last year. Those elections demonstrated the Afghan people’s will to determine their own future peacefully. We are also pleased that the new Afghan Cabinet comprises four women Ministers.

At this stage, where a national unity government is in power, we encourage the Afghan Government to enhance its capacity to address the problems and challenges facing the country by strengthening the state structure. We are offering our full support in this regard, also emphasizing that respect for human rights and women’s rights are crucial for a vibrant society that satisfactorily realizes its potential.

One area which requires urgent attention is the healing of the wounds left from years of warfare which particularly affected women and children. One of the most significant means to empower women and girls is education.

Turkey has invested over one billion US Dollars and completed around 800 projects in Afghanistan. A sizable portion of our activities in the country has served the strengthening of women and girls. I am pleased to note that a number of girls’ high schools that we opened in Afghanistan since 2008 now have thousands of graduates. In close cooperation with the Afghan Women’s Affairs Department, we conducted projects to teach Turkish and English, as well as computer skills to women in order to render them economically more active and productive. Apart from other projects relating to human rights training with emphasis on women’s rights, the Celalettin-i Rumi University in Kabul will have a student corps made exclusively up of women. Turkey’s contribution and support to Afghan women are not limited to the field of education. Two hundred and ninety-one Afghan policewomen were trained in Turkey since 2014.

Better educated Afghan women will assume more prominent roles in shaping the country’s future at all levels and in all walks of life. We have already started to see such a change begin to take place.

Afghanistan has made significant strides in numerous areas. While we need to take good note of this positive development, we also have to remain cognizant of the fact Afghanistan will continue to need the support of the international community. At this vital juncture, the international community should keep investing in the future of the country.

Afghanistan’s regional partners have a special responsibility in this regard as well. Sustained regional engagement remains key to addressing common challenges. The Istanbul Process, which aims to find creative, comprehensive and pragmatic solutions to regional issues, has become an important milestone in this respect. The process, underpinned by such keywords as “Afghan leadership” and “regional ownership” aspires to collectively enhance political dialogue among all “Heart of Asia” countries in a result-oriented and practical framework.

Mr. Chairperson,

President Erdoğan visited Afghanistan last October. Apart from other important documents, this momentous visit set the stage for the signature of the Strategic Partnership and Friendship Agreement between our countries. This agreement now provides a renewed basis to further improve our relations and cooperation in line with a strategic vision. Turkey will always remain in solidarity with the Afghan people in general and Afghan women in particular, and continue contributing to the construction of a safe, secure and prosperous Afghanistan.

Madam Minister,

We wish you all the best in your future endeavors.

Thank you.