Wien, 27. October 2006 Press release

Winkler: "Afghanistan: reconstruction through self-determination and international support"

27.10.2006

State Secretary Hans Winkler at the Afghanistan Conference of the Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination

Vienna, 27 October 2006 - Some five years ago representatives of Afghan politics and civil society met for the first time with delegates of the international community for the first major Afghanistan Conference, which took place in Bonn. The meeting focused on their joint goal of preparing the ground for the country’s reconstruction after years of war and suppression. "The Bonn conference, as well as all subsequent conferences, were based on the vision that Afghanistan be led out of its international isolation and that a stable, secure, democratic state be built, one which would be able to protect the rights of its citizens," emphasised State Secretary Hans Winkler at today’s opening of the Afghanistan Conference hosted by the Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination. Amongst others, the event was attended by Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein, and the commander of the Combined Forces Command - Afghanistan, Lieutenant General Karl Eikenberry.

"This common vision poses unforeseen challenges for Afghanistan and the international community. It is, however, forever based on the will to let it become reality. A life in freedom and security, without violence and suppression, must be the goal of any successful reconstruction of a country. The rule of law, as well as the respect for and compliance with human rights, must constitute the basis for reconstruction. In this effort the rights of women and children also require special attention," said Winkler, pointing out that the country had made progress over recent years. The head of state, for instance, had been freely elected for the first time. Moreover, a new constitution had been adopted, parliamentary elections organised, and numerous measures taken to build functional democratically legitimate structures.

"No state is able to rebuild a destroyed country alone, nor can it provide hope and offer prospects for a better and more dignified future of its own accord to a population that was suppressed for many years. Violence, ethnic conflict and crisis can very easily destroy that which has already been built. Therefore, the long-term support of the European Union and the international community is really important. However, any development must centre on the will of the Afghan population and the country’s own democratic forces to steer the fate of their country independently. In doing so, it is not the pace of a process that is decisive, but rather the long-term nature of reforms and measures," stated Winkler, expressing hope that this year’s conference would add new momentum to the reforms and reconstruction in Afghanistan, and that it would also lay down the further procedure in the process initiated five years ago in Bonn.

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