Today 20 November, at an Arria-formula virtual meeting of the UN Security Council on Afghanistan, Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu announced that Estonia and Norway were prepared to take on a leading role on the topic of Afghanistan at the UN Security Council in 2021.
“Estonia and Norway are prepared to take on a new responsibility at the UN Security Council in 2021,” Reinsalu said.
“The leadership role provides our diplomats with a chance to lead negotiations, make contacts that are useful for continued work on this issue, and adds to the weight of Estonia’s diplomacy in one of the most complicated diplomatic issues of the world,” Reinsalu explained.
Up until now, Estonia has chaired the Sudan and Iraq sanctions committees at the UN Security Council but has never been a so-called penholder. Estonia and Norway will take over from current penholders Germany and Indonesia, whose elected membership in the Security Council ends this year. Norway will join the Security Council from 2021.
In his statement to the UN Security Council, Reinsalu emphasised the international community’s support to the peace negotiations launched on 12 September in Doha, adding that we are nevertheless regrettably facing increased violence and instability.
He recognised Afghanistan for its progress so far but stressed that both negotiating parties, but especially the Taliban, must fulfil their commitments and work towards ending violence. “It is unacceptable that nine months after the signing of the agreements in Doha and Kabul, the level of violence on the ground is the highest it has been in years,” Reinsalu said. The assistance of the international community is strictly conditional; there needs to be an immediate and significant reduction of violence, leading to a permanent ceasefire. There is no excuse for the deliberate attacks on healthcare personnel and educational facilities.
“The peace negotiations must move forward in good faith. These talks are the best chance for peace in Afghanistan in a generation. It is the sole responsibility of Afghans themselves to lead their country out of years of violence and war,” Reinsalu said.
Reinsalu said human rights and fundamental freedoms should be the highest priority on the peace negotiations agenda.
With the meeting of the Security Council, Estonia also aims to highlight the importance of the virtual pledging conference on Afghanistan next week. Reinsalu recognised Finland, the government of Afghanistan and the UN for holding the conference despite the pandemic, and invited all states to take part and show their solidarity to ensure the success of the peace negotiations.
In addition to Estonia, statements were made at foreign minister level by UN Security Council members Germany and Indonesia and Afghanistan, Qatar, Norway and Finland, who were co-sponsors of the meeting. Speakers also included current UN Security Council member states and countries that will become elected members in 2021.
The President of Afghanistan Mohammad Ashraf Ghani gave the keynote speech, with opening remarks by Foreign Minister of Afghanistan Mohammed Haneef Atmar. An overview of the peace talks and the situation in Afghanistan was provided by UN’s Special Representative in Afghanistan Deborah Lyons, member of Afghanistan’s national negotiating team and member of the board of Afghan Red Crescent Society Fatima Gailani and Director of the International Crisis Group’s Asia programme Laurel Miller. The meeting was chaired by Foreign Minister Reinsalu.
Photos: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmSdsZZa (Raigo Pajula)
Estonia’s statement in full: https://vm.ee/en/news/statement-foreign-minister-he-mr-urmas-reinsalu-estonias-arria-meeting-peace-process