Transcript Of Impromptu Remarks of the SRSG, Lakhdar Brahimi on International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)Handover Ceremony

You’re Excellency President Hamid Karzai, Ministers of Defense of Afghanistan, Turkey, Germany, the Netherlands, and members of the Afghan Government, General Zulu, Lieutenant General van Heist, other Generals, diplomats and participants of this ceremony.

It’s a great honor to participate in this ceremony which means a great deal for the people of Kabul and think for the people of Afghanistan. As General Zulu was speaking of the eight months he spent here I remember when General McColl, the head of ISAF 1, arrived, he had come here for three months, and he stayed nearly six. General Zulu told me when he arrived he was here for six months and he stayed nearly eight so I really don’t know how long are your six months going to be here Lieutenant General van Heist. We were extremely happy to have ISAF.

I think that the people who decided in Bonn to request this military presence from friendly countries made the right decision and I think the people of Kabul appreciate every day the contribution of ISAF to this difficult slow moving but important and I hope successful peace process and today as we bid farewell to General Zulu and his valiant companions of the Turkish contingent we would like to tell them how much we appreciated their presence among us, how much we appreciated their cooperation, how much we appreciated their leadership and how much we appreciated their devotion, dedication to the people of Kabul and the service they have performed on behalf of Turkey and on behalf, if I may say so, of the whole international community.

Thank you very much indeed for everything you have done and I think as the Minister [of Defense] from Turkey said you have also contributed to revive very old and important ties between the people of Afghanistan and the people of Turkey and Turkey has already started to participate beyond its participation through you in ISAF, they have started to participant in the reconstruction of Afghanistan. I would like you to convey to the Government and people of Turkey the gratitude of the people of Afghanistan and the gratitude of the international community. For this contribution thank you very much and all the best to you personally for the continuation of your brilliant career back home and all your companions as you return home. As you said you take with you a little bit of Afghanistan back to Turkey.

Lieutenant General van Heist and your colleagues from Germany and Holland welcome to Afghanistan, welcome to Kabul. Germany has also a very old history of relations with Afghanistan and a lot of people remember stories of relations with individual Germans, of cooperation with German authorities, of support from Germany. Last year in particular your support for the holding of the Loyal Jirga was really decisive everyone was referring to that beautiful tent as the German Beer Hall tent – no beer was drunk under that tent but it was a very useful gift from the people and Government of Germany and we would like to thank you very much for that and for everything you have done and for everything you will do in the future.

Holland, a small country in Europe also very involved, very engaged, very committed to this peace process and one of the few countries that gives very generous help always or most of the time through multi-lateral channels. You have very distinguished representatives here. You’ve been on our side throughout these last few years and I think now you are [cementing] this interest by your participation in the leadership of ISAF. Thank you also very much. Welcome to your officers and soldiers. They are not new – they have been here with us, but now as they along with Germany jointly take on the leadership of ISAF, we wish you success. We would like to permit ourselves in the United Nations to use the Germans and the Dutch and everybody else in full and effective cooperation throughout your time with us here in Afghanistan.

I think on days like this what one really feels is a sense of hope; the difficulties are enormous, it’s huge mountain, it’s one of these mountains of Afghanistan butte people of Afghanistan are trying to climb, to reach peace and stability. On days like this one feels that it is do-able. It is do-able because the people of Afghanistan are tired of war, they are tired of conflict, and they are tired of this destruction that has descended on them for so many years. They would like to enjoy a little bit of peace, a little bit of stability and they are counting on the international community to help them do that.

So thank you Germany, Holland, Turkey, everybody else who is participating in ISAF, all the members of the international community who are helping and I hope that the next few months will see this process move forward faster than we have moved until now. Thank you again for today and the hope that you are reviving in the hearts and minds of the people of Afghanistan.

Speaking at today’s handover ceremony President Hamid Karzai said: “I’m very happy to tell youth at the service rendered by ISAF forces in Kabul is one that the citizens of Kabul trust, they feel the streets more secure with you around adieu should be proud of that.”


Kabul, 10 February 2003