Address by Minister Baird at the International Conference on Afghanistan

No. 2011/40 - Bonn, Germany - December 5, 2011                       

Check Against Delivery

Let me begin by thanking our German hosts. As with many of the countries represented here today 10 years after the fall of the Taliban, Canada continues to demonstrate its commitment to Afghanistan. We are not fair-weather friends and will continue to support the women, children and men of Afghanistan.

Alongside the Afghan National Security Forces, many of our soldiers, women and men, have made the supreme sacrifice to protect the Afghan population from a return to the repressive rule of terrorism. We are here to chart a way forward for Afghanistan, but we are also here to honour the fallen. Let us have no doubt about this.

Canada strongly believes that the success of transition and transformation can only be ensured through the full acceptance by Afghanistan and the international community of the principle of mutual accountability.

This places a heavy responsibility on the shoulders of the democratically elected government of Afghanistan. Mutual accountability means that the Government of Afghanistan must affirm unconditionally its commitment to work tirelessly to achieve peace in Afghanistan and the region. It must develop a society based on representative democracy, the rule of law, effective and transparent governance, and the full respect of human rights, especially for women and including protection against religious extremism. I was pleased to join U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Vice President of the European Commission, Catherine Ashton, to meet with the Afghan Women’s Network earlier today.

In return, the international community is called upon to continue to assist Afghanistan to assume full responsibility for providing its citizens with security, economic opportunity and a sustainable and accountable state. Canada is prepared to work, in concert with the rest of the international community, to support the Government of Afghanistan in these important undertakings. Let us be clear that the financial needs of this are very high, and we are accountable to our citizens to ensure that all investments achieve their goals and are undertaken in an environment free of corruption and waste.

Afghanistan has asked for a commitment to long-term engagement from the international community. For its part, Canada has a clear view to seeing its commitment through to 2014; and beyond that, our commitment will not end. It is important that we maintain our focus on ensuring that the transition is a success. And here, Canada is making a substantial contribution. Within our existing commitments, we continue to support health and education for Afghan women and children, to provide humanitarian assistance, to support the development of the Afghan security forces as the second-largest contributor to the NATO Training Mission Afghanistan, and to strengthen the rule of law, human rights and promote regional cooperation.

Thank you.

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