Afghanistan-New Zealand Parliamentary Friendship Group Launched
The Parliament of the New Zealand in Wellington was the co-host of the Afghanistan and New Zealand Parliamentary Friendship Group (ANZPFG) in Wellington on March 17, 2020. The Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, as a co-host, welcomed a group of Kiwi politicians, Minister of Defence, Members of Parliament and members of the ANZPFG, dignitaries from departments of Foreign Affairs and Defence, Wellington Mayor, representatives of Afghan community in NZ and friends of Afghanistan to this event.
The Hon Andrew Bayly, the Co-chair of the ANZPFG made a welcoming speech and announced Afghanistan as a new entry within the framework of the New Zealand - Middle East and Africa Parliamentary Friendship Group. He mentioned about Afghanistan and NZ relation and engagement through millitary and developmnet cooperation.
Ambassador of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, HE Wahidullah Waissi, in his remarks thanked the NZ Parliament for making this major step for establishing, maintaining and expanding closer ties between New Zealand and Afghanistan. Ambassador Waissi paid tribute to NZDF fallen soldiers who lost their lives serving in Afghanistan and express condolences to their families and veterans and to 51 NZ citizens who lost their live as a result of Christchurch terror attack in March last year. He pointed out that NZ and Afghanistan are separated by far distance but both nations have common aspirations towards peace, prosperity and democracy.
It is understood that the New Zealand development assistance since 2003 has been instrumental in much needed sectors in Afghanistan which has been focused on areas such as good governance, agricultural development and renewable energy. NZ has continued assistance is essential in post – peace settlement in Afghanistan beyond 2020 and towards next international donner conference on Afghanistan.
Ambassador Waissi in his remarks said that "there are huge potentials for trade and business-match making between two countries as well. We are looking for export of Afghan goods such as saffron, pomegranates and pine nuts to New Zealand markets. Establishment of joint chamber of commerce and business council will contribute to ease of business between two countries. We are interested to get membership of NZ- Middle East Business Council."
In his speech, Ambassador highlighted the following key areas of cooperation for future consideration:
Availing the presence of nearly 15,000 of Afghans currently residing in New Zealand, we are looking to strengthen people to people links between NZ and Afghanistan. Establishment of a regular p2p dialogue in this context will be helpful.
Afghanistan has one of the youngest populations in the world – with approximately 63 percent of the population below 25 years of age and 46 percent under 15.We look forward for educational cooperation, third country education program and distance learning opportunities for Afghans in NZ universities.
Establishment of Afghan cultural centre with collaboration of Afghan community and support of NZ Government will enables us to foster cultural relations between two countries.
Signing an MoU of city sisterhood between Bamiyan province and either Auckland or Christchurch is something we can envisage. NZ has focussed much of its development assistance through PRT in Bamiyan and Auckland/ Christchurch is hosting the largest number of Afghans in NZ.
We look forward for technical and bilateral cooperation between cricket boards of two countries.The upcoming world cup in Australia will be a good opportunity in this respect.
The last speaker of the event was membrer of the the NZ Parliament, Honorable Duncan Webb. He thanked all participants for their support and commended on the works undertaken by the MEA Friendship Group, which is an important platform for establishing, maintaining and expanding closer ties between nations in the Middle East and Africa now extended to Afghanistan.
Members of New Zealand - Afghanistan Parliamentary Friendship Group
Membership of the committee
Secretary: Aaron Williams
Under-Secretary: Sam Moffett