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G20 extraordinary leaders’ meeting on Afghanistan, Prime Minister Draghi's closing remarks

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Thank you very much President Biden.
And thank you all for an extremely fruitful meeting today. 

The outcome of our meeting was summarized in a Chair’s Summary that has been circulated to all your delegations.
I’d like to say a few words that reflect more closely the sort of discussion we had today.
First of all, my sense is that there is a strong will to act, to converge and to act immediately. 
There is a sense that all of us are convinced that the crisis is a true crisis, a colossal humanitarian crisis, so the need to act is immediate because it’s already worsening, and the winter is coming.

The second point is that we should strive, as many of you said, we should strive to have a unified stance. I think that that is very important, and, in fact, we do have a unified stance de facto, because the United Nations seem to have had a broad mandate to coordinate all the activity to help Afghan citizens. The main purpose of this coordination is first and foremost to respond to the humanitarian emergency and we support the United Nations assistance mission in Afghanistan. 

The next point is that both the World Bank and the IMF, and the countries, really should in a sense be under your umbrella, so as to make it possible for the United Nations to make use of all these resources – this must be coordinated, but especially as efficient as possible.
So, first of all, the humanitarian emergency and the response to that.

The second point is to avoid the economic collapse of Afghanistan, and here I just want to stress two points that have been briefly touched upon.

I think there is going to be a payment system crisis in Afghanistan, meaning that all the payments will collapse because the payment system seems to be on the verge of halting. Together with that, there is going to be a banking system crisis and that’s as important as the present humanitarian crisis, because if money doesn’t flow, if payments cannot be done, the economy will collapse and will make any sort of assistance incredibly more complicated. Now on this, of course, the World Bank and the IMF are the greatest players but for anybody who wants to cooperate there, this is very, very important.

The third point is that there is a need for a provision of public services, especially education and healthcare, also in cooperation with the international organizations. I wish to thank the President of the European Commission, von der Leyen, for the comprehensive support package but, as she said, this ought to find a place within the United Nations framework of assistance. 

Now, there is one thing which didn’t appear prominently in many of your considerations, but which is still very important and that is the fight against COVID-19. This is not the main priority in Afghanistan, but we should stand ready to supply vaccines and to support a prompt resumption of the vaccination campaign through the COVAX facility.

The next point, which was stressed by almost all of you, is that we should provide relief to migrants and refugees in neighbouring countries, in coordination with UN agencies and the local authorities.

Another point that I believe was stressed by everybody was that a proper focus should be put on helping women and children.

The next section was on security. I think, again, that was a universal point. In other words, all of you made the point that Afghanistan should not become again a safe haven for terrorism. This might destabilize not only Afghanistan, but the whole region, and maybe also the world.

So, we should offer adequate support here - and I think we are already doing it - but we should also provide funds to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime strategy, because we want to eradicate one of the major sources of financing of terrorism, namely drug trafficking.

There is another big hole here, because unfortunately - as far as we can see - this government hasn’t shown extraordinary administrative capacities. There is an institutional vacuum here, and so, to the extent that the Taliban government is willing to accept help, a crucial line of action is to rebuild institutions. Here, again, the World Bank will play a very prominent role.

Many of you made the point that the prerequisite to go there, be there, bring money, bring food, bring assistance is to keep Kabul airport open. And here I should thank again the Turkish and the Qatari authorities for their action. So, we have all recognized the involvement of neighbouring countries as a key tool to achieve many of our objectives.

I think I have touched on many points, I am pretty sure I left some of them out, so let me conclude with one very heartfelt invitation.

I invite all of you to work together on not abandoning Afghanistan.

In spite of the many differences that separate us, we should not accept this catastrophe. We should act and that is going to be the main thing that we should work on in the coming days.

Thank you very much to all of you for having participated in this meeting.