The Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon has appointed Ambassador Kai Eide to be his Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier issued a statement welcoming this decision in Berlin today (10 March):
"I congratulate Ambassador Eide most cordially on his appointment as Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, UNAMA. By selecting him, the UN Secretary-General has made an excellent choice. Kai Eide is a high-profile diplomat who has already proven his skills on numerous difficult mediation missions, for example in the Balkans.
I am also pleased that by appointing a Norwegian to this important post, the UN Secretary-General has underscored the special engagement of our Norwegian partners in Afghanistan.
I look forward to working well and closely with Kai Eide. He can rest assured of the German Government's full support for the demanding tasks that await him."
Ambassador Eide has previously served as Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1997-1998 and as his Special Envoy in Kosovo from 2004-2005. He now moves to Afghanistan to replace Tom Koenigs of Germany, who held the post for the past two years (2006-2007).
The appointment of a new Special Representative for Afghanistan comes at a key time. Important decisions will have to be taken at the forthcoming NATO Summit in Bucharest on 2 to 4 April and the international conference on Afghanistan planned to be held in Paris this June. The Special Representative and head of UNAMA is, together with the Afghan Government, the central coordinator for all reconstruction efforts in the country. Guidance for his work is provided by the Afghanistan Compact adopted in London in 2006. The Special Representative is also vital for maintaining the momentum of cooperation between the United Nations and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.