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Speech by Foreign Minister Margot Wallström at the Nato Foreign Minister's meeting in Brussels


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Secretary-General, friends and colleagues,

- One year ago the Resolute Support Mission was launched in this very room. Afghanistan now stands at a crossroads and the international community needs to show continuous and long-term commitment to the Afghan people. If Afghanistan returns to a security vacuum, consequences will not only affect Afghanistan and its people but also all of us.

In this context, I would like to inform you that from January until October this year, Sweden has received 22 000 unaccompanied children from Afghanistan. We must prevent an exodus from Afghanistan. To have so many young people leave the country will be a great loss to Afghanistan.


And this is my first point: a peace process leading to a political settlement is the only viable option to end the conflict. We would like to commend President Ghani's outreach to all parties in the region to initiate a peace process with the Taliban.


Despite some setbacks along the way, the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces have stayed committed to their responsibility. However, events such as the temporary take-over by the Taliban of Kunduz show that security built solely on military presence is not sufficient.


And this is the second point I would like to make: political and democratic reforms must go hand-in-hand with security efforts in order to build a stable and peaceful Afghanistan. Security and development are two sides of the same coin and Sweden is engaged in both tracks. A well-functioning state, at central, regional and district levels is key to ensuring stability.


- Thirdly, in order to ensure that democratic development in Afghanistan is consolidated, we must all do what we can to assist. We also expect the National Unity Government to work hard in pursuing its reform agenda concerning the economy, the electoral system, anti- corruption, and building an inclusive society with social justice and full and equal rights for women. We are worried by the reports of continued violence and discrimination against women and of sexual offenses towards children committed by members of the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces. This must stop.


- Finally, Sweden has a long-term commitment to Afghanistan. The Government has proposed to the Riksdag (Swedish Parliament) to extend our current contribution to Resolute Support Mission into 2016. In addition, our development support to Afghanistan for the period 2015-2024 has an indicative volume of approximately USD 1 billion. Gender equality is of particular importance for our efforts. We believe that this issue needs more attention now already, and that it has to be an integral part of the future Enduring Partnership – particularly since this will focus on the policy/ministerial level.

Thank you.