NEW YORK, 28 AUGUST 1998
STATEMENT BY H.E. Mr. JAIME GAMA, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF PORTUGAL, TO THE SECURITY COUNCIL 3921st MEETING (The situation in Afghanistan) The Presidency of the European Union has already stated the common views of its member States on this subject. Therefore, I will emphasize only certain elements of my countrys position with regard to the situation in Afghanistan.
Since the Council last discussed the disturbing situation in Afghanistan on 16 April 1997, the political and humanitarian situation in the country has deteriorated further. The latest fighting and escalation of the conflict in Afghanistan clearly indicate that at least one of the parties is convinced that it is in a position to take over militarily the whole country.
In reality, the warring factions must recognize that the conflict cannot be settled on the battlefield. Any thought of a conclusive military victory by one party is an illusion. The past 20 years of war in Afghanistan lead us to believe that a military victory by one of the warring parties will not bring the fighting to an end.
Portugal stands for a political settlement in Afghanistan on the basis of the decisions of the General Assembly and Security Council, and for the preservation of the unity and territorial integrity of the country. We therefore call on all factions to agree to an immediate ceasefire and to enter into negotiations under United Nations auspices aimed at achieving a broadly representative Government acceptable to all Afghans.
With the recent escalation of fighting, the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated further. I would like to express our deep concern at this tragic situation in which the Afghan people finds itself. Moreover, recent measures taken by the Taliban resulted in the evacuation of all United Nations humanitarian personnel. The humanitarian impact of the evacuation of humanitarian personnel could be disastrous.
My Government strongly condemns the attacks on United Nations personnel and urges the Taliban to fully investigate the recent attacks against two staff members of the United Nations Special Mission to Afghanistan, which resulted in the death of an Italian national.
Portugal strongly deplores the fact that foreign countries, instead of using their influence on the warring factions positively, continue to fuel the conflict with arms, personnel and logistical support. Although the enmity between the Afghan factions is deep, we are convinced that to a great extent it is foreign intervention that has prolonged the fighting. Like others, we call for an immediate end to such interference.
We remain deeply concerned with the reports of widespread violations of human rights in Afghanistan, in particular the continuing and intolerable discrimination imposed by the Taliban against women. All factions must understand that they are responsible not only for complying with humanitarian law, but also for respecting and implementing international human rights standards regarding each and every citizen in Afghanistan.
We are also particularly alarmed by the fact that the fighting and the polarization of forces is increasingly taking place along ethnic lines, thus making it more complicated to find a peaceful political solution. In this regard, we would like to express our concern over the reported capture by the Taliban of the Consulate-General of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Mazar-e-Sharif and with the fate of the civilian population of the Hazarajat region.
Another two sources of grave concern are drug-trafficking and the continuing presence of terrorists and terrorist training camps in Afghanistan, both factors with far-reaching negative effects inside and outside Afghanistan. They constitute a serious threat to peace and security in the whole region. In fact, these completely intolerable and destabilizing practices represent global threats, and they must cease immediately.
In conclusion, we fully support the draft resolution before us, which we co-sponsor. We urge the Afghan factions to fully comply with it to put an end to the suffering of the Afghan people.