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Foreign Minister Steinmeier in Afghanistan

06.09.2014

Foreign Minister was in Kabul, Afghanistan, on 6 September for separate talks with President Hamid Karzai, Foreign Minister Zarar Ahmad Osmani, the two presidential candidates, Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, and UN Special Representative Ján Kubiš.

Afterwards, before meeting a group of German election workers, Foreign Minister Steinmeier gave the following statement:

Perhaps a picture will say more about the courage of the Afghan people than a lot of words could. I have in mind a particular picture of a man – a man at the recent presidential election showing the stump of his finger, dyed blue. The Taliban had cut off his finger at the last election in 2009, and he nonetheless went back to vote again, in spite of all the dangers.

That shows the will of the Afghan people to move their country forwards, to stand their government on the foundation of a democratic election. It also shows, however, that those in positions of responsibility are very much expected to ensure a tangible outcome at long last after so many dared to vote.

This is a critical discussion and a critical situation. The election has been held, but twelve weeks later, the new president has still not been named. What matters now is that the electoral scrutiny procedure be brought to its conclusion, the new president be named as soon as possible and a government of national unity be formed. We also engaged in a lot of conversations this morning with the two candidates, Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah. I sense that there are still many obstacles to the formation of a government of national unity – obstacles that are not insurmountable but that can only be overcome if both sides are willing to compromise.

The unequivocal message I have delivered here is that the international community too – those who have been involved here in recent years and who wish to keep contributing to this country’s future – expects the responsible parties to find a compromise and bring about what this country needs, namely a government of national unity.

We want to continue providing support with the means at our disposal. First off, of course, this will mean participation in what the international community is getting under way, the mission Resolute Support – which will see us helping to train Afghan security forces – not to mention supporting the country economically. We will continue to play our part in Afghanistan’s civil reconstruction. It remains clear, though, that we can only do that if Afghanistan itself creates reliable and stable structures. That is why it is so important to scrutinise the election, establish a new president and form a government of national unity.

I’m meeting quite a number of German election workers in a few minutes – observers and people who have been helping to ensure that the electoral scrutiny process reaches a conclusion. I think we cannot rate highly enough what their work means for the election process and the investigation of that process. There is no trust between political camps here. It is therefore vital that third parties, with international input, have been looking to ascertain to what extent there was irregular voting and how that is to be assessed in relation to the outcome.

I think it’s worth noting that as many as 60 men and women from Germany made their way here to help identify an election outcome that all parties and the candidates can get behind. This is great work, and I value it highly and am glad to have the opportunity to thank them directly.

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