Press Conference by Tom Koenigs The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan

Good morning to everybody. First the good news, the first benchmark of the Afghan Compact has been met.

The first benchmark was to establish a transparent mechanism for appointments of senior level government posts nationwide within six months of the effective date of the Compact. That would be the 21st of September.

Through decree the President has, before he left [for North America], signed this mechanism, which was set out in the Afghanistan Compact, and it is vital for a transparent and accountable administration at the senior level of appointments.

The new appointment mechanism is meant to ensure that all senior appointments to the central Government and the judiciary, as well as for provincial Governors, deputy Ministers, Chiefs of Police are made on a merit based system that is transparent and ensures that ably qualified people assume these positions of responsibility.

I would like to stress that the appointment mechanism includes vetting procedures to ensure that people with questionable pasts or histories will be prevented from securing positions of responsibility.

The presidential decree says the consultative board shall consider the following criteria for evaluation of candidates: The principle of competency including education, experience and required skills for the post; good reputation, integrity and loyalty to the higher national values; respect for the provisions and the values of the religion of Islam; no discrimination against a person based on sex, language, religion, political thought, ethic race and social status; and no connection with illegal armed groups, drug trafficking, record of human rights violation and bribery.

The people of Afghanistan deserve nothing less.

Now to another subject. Afghanistan needs more international support. These are difficult times for Afghanistan. This is not the first time Afghanistan has faced such testing conditions.

However, the fear of failing is quite popular, but it is wrong. We are making real and sustained progress in Afghanistan in spite of the problems in the south.

If we want to succeed in Afghanistan the answer is clear: Afghanistan needs more sustained support from the international community and not less.

There is at the moment a strong debate in all the European and world capitals, among the donors, and I repeat, Afghanistan needs more support and knotless.

Nathan ISAF have recently called for more troops, I support their call and member states now need to rise to the challenge.

Wended more development and for that we need a more secure environment within we can work.

Afghanistan needs a sustained long-term commitment from the international community on all fronts, not just more troops.

Wended more development support and more political support through diplomacy. This diplomacy support includes the support of a good neighborhood relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

It’s obvious that any solution for the south, which is sustainable, can only be a regional solution between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

I have spoken to you on that subject before, but I repeat it – pointing fingers at each other does nothing to improve peace and stability in Afghanistan. We have seen some encouraging signs of increased co-operation between Afghanistan and its neighbors but more must be done.

Afghanistan and Pakistan must continue to focus on building mutual trust, understanding and co-operation for the sake of the whole region.

Andre from the UN will do everything to facilitate this cooperation, which includes a security cooperation, which includes a development and includes political cooperation.

Touching on other subjects. We get positive news from the military in their fight against the Taliban in the south. But we must not forget the humanitarian problems that fighting in the south causes.

There have been several reports on displaced persons, particularly in the area where the fighting is going on. The numbers are not well established, several thousand involved in all the regions where there is fighting.

Then agencies such as UNICEF and WFP (World Food Programme) have already started pre-positioning humanitarian supplies in the affected provinces. Our WFP office in Kandahar has started providing essential food supplies to 400 affected families and plans are in place to provide for a further5, 000 displaced families.

UNICEF has also pre-positioned blankets, warm clothing, medical kits and other essential non-food items for up to 1,500 families.

The fighting in Afghanistan has caused a high number of casualties. I will give you only one figure. Suicide bombings have caused more than 154 deaths only in this year. I have no numbers of the civilian casualties affected by international and government forces. But again, I say, each and every civilian casualty is a tragedy. The people of Afghanistan have suffered enough.

It’s imperative that everybody recognizes the importance of civilian safety and everything must be done to avoid civilian casualties. The safety of Afghan citizens, civilians must come first and foremost in everything that we do and it is so vital to all of us who are working towards peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Aim happy to try and answer your questions on these subjects.

Questions and Answers

NY Times: On the fighting in the south, I know figures are difficult, is this just the fighting from Panjabi that you’re talking about… these thousands of families, and can we judge from your figures that we’re talking about 6,000 families, which then times 5 or 6 is around 35,000people displaced?

SRSG: I have not given you any figures on the number of displaced persons because know that there are different figures in the air. The Government has given figures. UNHCR couldn’t confirm these figures, so I haven’t given you any. I’ve spoken about several thousand. I’ve given you only the figures of preparations of some of the UN agencies. I know that the Government has given figures for Uruzgan, Helmand and Kandahar, but I cannot confirm them. The problem, particularly in Panjabi, to get correct figures is that quite a number of the displaced persons went to family members not very far and already returned during the fighting. So we haven’t been able to establish correct figures.

Reuters: You said that Afghanistan needs help from the international community. I just wondered if you could speculate on the implications if the help doesn’t come.

SRSG: I appreciate your wording of speculating, and I certainly will not. One element was discussed today, why does ISAF at the same time ask for more troops and say that they have been very successful? But this is very easy to explain because they ask for reserves for the case when they’re not so successful. In addition, they have asked NATO, and the Secretary-General of NATO has asked for that to get more flexibility with all the troops and get rid of the caveats of the different troops; some who don’t want to go to the south, others don’t want to do this and others don’t want to do that. If I’m informed right, there are around60 or 70 different caveats of the troops and it’s understandable that a commander has trouble working with all that with efficiency.

The second area is development. At the very moment that security is re-established, development must restart because otherwise it will be very difficult to keep the gains sustainable because the Taliban are not offering any development. The international community and the Government are aware that these southern provinces are very poor and development has to come. So we have to advocate that development comes soon and comes vigorously.

Justine speculation, and it’s not a speculation, everyone must knowing Afghanistan that wherever the Taliban goes, development is over. Inyo look at the economic performance of the Taliban Government, everyone knows that this was a disaster; production went down, all indicators went down and people must know that.