Remarks With Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Head of UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan Jan Kubis

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Kabul, Afghanistan
July 12, 2014

PRESIDENT KARZAI: (Via interpreter) In the name of God, (inaudible) media, welcome to today’s conference. You have been waiting since Iftar. I apologize for that. Today, we have His Excellency John Kerry, Secretary of State to the United States with us, as well as His Exellency Jan Kubis, Special Representative of the United Nations to Afghanistan. As you’re all aware that his visit to Afghanistan – John Kerry’s visit to Afghanistan was about elections, and His Excellency’s Jan Kubis’s effort and hard work about the elections of Afghanistan. He’s been involved in that.

Dear (inaudible) countrymen, the first round and second round of the election in Afghanistan has been held. Second round of the elections – voices of fraud have been heard, and in order to reach and address the issues and establish some sort of understanding between them has (inaudible) has started.

This effort’s been undertaken by the (inaudible) presidents as well as the commissions – election commissions, compliance commissions. After as well as (inaudible) the votes were counted, His Excellency Dr. Abdullah Abdullah announced that in order to address the problems of election, mainly fraud, ask the United Nations to intervene and find a possible solution.

I and my deputies, in order to speed up these efforts and in order to avoid any kind of misunderstanding, we accepted Dr. Abdullah Abdullah’s request. After that, we had a discussion with Mr. Jan Kubis, who was ready to intervene and find a solution. And following that, I talked to my brother Abdullah Abdullah on the phone, and he agreed.

After that, I talked to Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai on the phone and asked him if he agrees to Dr. Abdullah’s request. He said whatever solution that can address this problem is welcomed by him, and he accepted our requests. As you are all aware that after two – election 2009, I always try to strengthen our Afghan national election institution, and it should – (inaudible) is to run under the leadership of the Afghans. Considering the current situation and to speed up the process, we accepted the intervention of United Nations. Mr. Jan Kubis started his efforts to address this.

His Excellency John Kerry, Secretary of State to the United States of America, has been in contact with candidates and he eventually traveled to Afghanistan so that he can find a possible solution along with the presidential candidates tonight. As you witnessed on – they had a press conference, both brothers – our candidates, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai along with His Excellency John Kerry and Mr. Jan Kubis at the – they had some announcements which I welcome (inaudible) announcement and supporters’ announcements, and I hope that 100 percent audit of the votes will take place and start as soon as possible so that the nation of Afghanistan finally elect their next president.

We hope that the commissions – the commission IEC and – both commissions, the election commission and the compliance commission – will accept these suggestions and speed up the process in cooperation with United Nations and international observers. The people of Afghanistan all have been patient so far, and at the meantime, they all (inaudible) and they would like to hear soon about the result of the election and witness their next president of Afghanistan. And the work of the government’s been slowed down these days and their hope is that the audit that’s been announced today, that 100 percent audit will take place, will start as soon as possible, the best way possible, so that as soon as this process completed, the inauguration ceremony will take place for the next president of Afghanistan.

It was supposed to take place on August 2. We were prepared – all the preparation were made, but now I hope that the commissions will (inaudible) this and agree this – to this suggestion and finish and conclude this as soon as possible so that we can have the next president of Afghanistan – elect the next president of Afghanistan and the inauguration will take place.

Afghanistan president will be a strong president, the people of Afghanistan will take (inaudible). The Afghan people are committed and united and they stand on each other and this land, this soil is (inaudible) service of the Afghan people, and it’s been always protected. But we (inaudible) by the people of Afghanistan. It will continue. The Afghan people are committed for democracy and they believe, beside all the (inaudible), beside all the instabilities and (inaudible) and uncertainties, all the people were encouraged and convinced to participate and elect the next president of Afghanistan as well as provincial council. The Afghan people votes is to be respected. We will respect and honor their votes, and the next president will take over (inaudible).

I would like to stop now and hand it – allow His Excellency John Kerry and which – His Excellency (inaudible) to deliver (inaudible), a mission that keep its destiny, its own hand, well determined future.

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, Mr. President Karzai, thank you very, very much, sir. It is a pleasure to be with you again. And I want to thank you for your very generous hospitality, and again, I missed Iftar tonight because we were busy having conversations. But last night, you entertained us with great stories and a great sense of the unbelievable generosity of Afghanistan, and we’re very grateful to you.

I also am particularly grateful – I had a chance to speak a few minutes ago at the UN Headquarters with both of the candidates, Dr. Ghani and Dr. Abdullah. I think it is fair to say that both of them spoke with great eloquence about their vision for Afghanistan and about the choice that they are making to come together for the unity of the country. I want to thank President Karzai for his role in supporting this effort in these last days, and even before I came here, to make it clear that he knew that it was important that the democracy that is springing up here be given its opportunity to have full bloom. And that is something that he is deeply committed to, and in these next days, we will be able to achieve.

President Karzai and I have traveled an interesting journey in the last years. We’ve known each other on many different – in many different events and many different times, but none more so than in 2009 when I had the privilege of spending a fair amount of time with him talking about how to help grow this democracy. We took long walks here on the palace grounds, we spent meals together, we talked through a very difficult period. And I witnessed his political skill and his ability to be able to try to put the country first, ahead of any other interests. Again tonight, President Karzai is doing that, and he has done so in the last days by honoring the notion that the international community could play a constructive role, and by inviting us to be helpful in the effort to try to bring the candidates together in a thoughtful way.

This will be still a difficult road because there are important obligations of audit. There will be difficult choices that will be made. It will still require leadership and statesmanship from both of the candidates. But tonight, Afghanistan saw a moment of what unity can mean. Tonight, Afghanistan saw two opposing candidates with passionate supporters bring their supporters together in the interests of country, in the interests of something bigger than each of them individually. We hope that the promise of the next weeks will deliver the authenticity and credibility that the people of Afghanistan deserve in the presentation of the next president of this country.

And so I thank President Karzai for his willingness to move the inauguration in response to the request of both candidates and the United Nations. I know he had been planning to leave on the 2nd of August, but he is willing to obviously stay the course because he is invested in this democracy, as are the people of the country. So I thank him for that. I am grateful for, again, the willingness to work with us and the great hospitality that we’ve had.

And because of that, if this works, if people will stay the course and everybody works together, the people of Afghanistan, for the first time in the history of the country, will have the peaceful transition at the ballot box of one president to another. That’s worth the fight, and I’m proud to be here with America standing behind Afghanistan, and President Obama could not be more pleased and more prepared to help complete this journey. Thank you.

MR. KUBIS: Your Excellency, President Karzai, may I start by applauding your strong and dedicated leadership and your exceptional commitment to the political transition – indeed, a first process of this kind in the modern history of Afghanistan. That is twice as important because it’s happening at the same time as the country’s undergoing another difficult transition, security transition. As the country is taking its fate fully in her hands, there are questions about its political transition. There are questions about commitment, Mr. President. You proved all those skeptics wrong.

Secretary Kerry, if I may say, Afghanistan is blessed that it has such a strong strategic partner as the United States, and Afghanistan is blessed to have such a committed personal friend in yourself. Whenever there is a need, you are here, and you deliver miracles, because what we witnessed today, it was not just a top-notch diplomatic achievement; it was close to a miracle. As the third point, I applaud the commitment of both presidential candidates, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, for their commitment to the unity, prosperity, stability, and peace here in Afghanistan. They showed it strongly today in spite, again, of perhaps setbacks, disappointments, and nevertheless, as they showed today, they can walk together to the better – to a better future, hand in hand.

We as the UN, as always, will accompany Afghanistan on this way forward. Thank you for your attention.