50 Years of Diplomacy - DFAT Celebrated the Anniversary
Canberra, 15 August 2019 - This month, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan marked its 100thAnniversary of Independence and 50 Years of Diplomatic Relations, featuring 9 events throughout 8 cities in 3 countries.
In Canberra, over 200 guests attended an evening reception featuring the opening of an Afghan photographic exhibition and remarks from the Ambassador, the Australian Minister for Defence and the Secretary of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
In his remarks, Ambassador Waissi reflected upon the unique bonds shared between Afghans and Australians through military cooperation; socio-economic development, and people-to-people exchanges.
Ambassador Waissi stated that the foundation of the Afghan-Australian relationship began when the first Afghan cameleers arrived on the Australian continent over 150 years ago. From there, they went on to contribute to the development of inland trade routes and became integral in shaping the Australian outback. Although they no longer exist in modern Australia, their lives and experiences lived on through the kinships formed with Indigenous Australians; and through the passenger train which travels between Adelaide and Darwin known as The Ghan.
Following this, Ambassador Waissi reflected on past milestones in the Afghan-Australian relationship: the appointment of Australia’s first Ambassador to Afghanistan in 1969, the vice-versa appointment of Afghanistan’s first Ambassador to Australia in 1975, the first visit to Afghanistan by the Australian Governor-General, and the efforts to eradicate the threat of International terrorism and extremism following the tragic terrorist attacks against the United States on 11thSeptember 2001.
“It wasn’t until the tragic terrorist attacks against the United States on 11thof September 2001 that saw our strongest challenge in the face of adversity. Our relationship entered a new dimension after Australia committed over 25,000 Australian men and women over two decades, to support Afghan military forces eradicate the threat of International terrorism and extremism”.
The 50thAnniversary proved to be more than an opportunity to reflect on the past. Ambassador Waissi expressed his sincere gratitude to all the brave Australia service personnel and their families for their sacrifice, including 42 service personnel who made the ultimate sacrifice in the ongoing pursuit of peace.
“On behalf of the Afghan people and the Government of Afghanistan, I offer my deepest respect and admiration to your valiant hearts”.
Ambassador Waissi also reaffirmed that Australia continued to remain a staunch friend in difficult times, highlighting the recent contribution of 270 Australian Defence Force personnel to support the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission in Kabul. Furthermore, he commended Australia’s commitment in providing an additional $82.1 million in Overseas Development Assistance to preserve and ensure steady gains in: economic growth; effective and accountable governance; empowering women and girls, and; building resilience and supporting at-risk populations.
Concluding his remarks, Ambassador Waissi noted that as Afghanistan undergoes a critical transition toward a new era of peace and prosperity, it was important to recognise the people-to-people exchanges that strengthened the bond in Afghan-Australian Relations with little to no recognition.
“Afghanistan’s landlinked nature and isolation from the world has exemplified several unique challenges. Yet, through enhancements in global connectivity and cross-cultural exchange, we see a new generation of Afghans and Australians alike conducting business and strengthening a shared future”
As a token of gratitude, Ambassador Waissi presented the Governor-General of Australia with an Afghan Carpet symbolising our shared history, reflecting present arrangements and expressing optimism for future generations to come.
To view Ambassador Waissi’s full remarks, please click here.