I would like to begin by thanking the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Republic of Turkey, respectively, for hosting and chairing this much anticipated conference. Canada is honored to continue participating as a supporting nation. I regret that pressing parliamentary business has kept Foreign Minister Baird from representing us at this Conference.
Canada welcomes the continued efforts of the Heart of Asia countries in moving forward with a regionally-led and -owned process, which features concrete and cooperative measures to address common security and economic challenges. The constructive involvement of Afghanistan’s neighbors in this country’s long-term stability and development is central to the realization of the region’s considerable potential during the Transformation Decade, as well as to the success of Afghanistan’s own Transition process. In this regard, the substantial progress which the Istanbul Process has made in identifying and clarifying a series of confidence-building measures is particularly important.
Canada stands ready to support the implementation of these confidence-building measures in several ways. We continue to facilitate the Afghanistan Pakistan Cooperation Process, which is aimed at strengthening cross-border cooperation in the areas of counter-narcotics, customs, law enforcement and the movement of people. In particular, in the field of counter narcotics, Canada has significant counter-narcotics programming, , through the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, to enhance law enforcement interdiction capabilities. Through our ongoing funding commitments, Canada will continue to support the counter-narcotics Confidence Building Measure and its efforts to enhance cooperation and interaction to counter the production, trafficking and consumption of illicit drugs.
Also through the Afghanistan Pakistan Cooperation Process, Canada is helping Afghanistan and Pakistan to implement key requirements of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement. We are facilitating the exchange of customs information between these two countries to increase the security and efficiency of the movement of legitimate people and goods.
Through the Aga Khan Foundation, Canada is supporting the establishment of the University of Central Asia’s Institute for Public Policy and Administration. This project is developing a permanent, regional institution to fill a critical gap in analysis and professional development required for civil servants in Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, and will enhance those governments’ ability to confidently advance regional cooperation and diplomacy, all of which is consistent with the objectives of the Istanbul Process.
As addressed in the Declaration, continued support towards training, equipping, capacity development and sustainment of the ANSF to promote the future stability of a secure and democratic Afghanistan beyond 2014 is crucial. To this end, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced in Chicago that Canada will provide $110 million per year over three years beginning in 2015 to support well-trained and well-equipped Afghan National Security Forces in providing security and stability in a sovereign Afghanistan.
In just over three weeks, we will gather in Tokyo. In what has been an active year for Afghanistan and the international community in charting our future path, Tokyo will offer an opportunity for all of us to build on our mutual commitment to an Afghanistan that is a secure, prosperous and well governed partner in the Heart of Asia. In this regard, all of us should build upon the principles established at the last G-8 Summit, which recognize that political stability, democratic governance and economic growth efforts are closely linked to the Government of Afghanistan’s obligation to protect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms, including in the rights of women and girls and the freedom to practice religion.
I can assure you that Canada remains committed to supporting these objectives.