On Wednesday (5 October), representatives from nearly 70 countries and 20 international organisations met in Brussels to discuss their joint commitment to the stabilisation of Afghanistan. The talks focused on civilian reconstruction, the future of the Afghan government’s reform efforts, and regional cooperation for establishing a political path to peace and security.
The long road to peace and stability
“The road to peace and stability in Afghanistan is clearly long,” Foreign Minister Steinmeier said prior to the conference in Brussels. He went on to point out that the situation there is still not calm. That is why representatives from many countries have now gathered to discuss Afghanistan’s political and economic reconstruction with representatives of the Afghan government.
In many spheres, there has been progress over the past decade, among other things on health care, education, infrastructure, and women’s rights. Moreover, the country is no longer the chief safe haven for the training of Islamist terrorists, Steinmeier said, and the Afghan security forces are increasingly capable of tackling difficult challenges, as well.
A continued need for international Support
Still, the overall situation remains unstable. New attacks by the Taliban in Kunduz, for example, show how fragile the security situation in Afghanistan still is. The fact that the Afghan security forces have, for the most part, apparently been able to regain control also shows that security in the country is a mixed picture. Steinmeier went on to underline that this conference again demonstrated how the international community is maintaining its support for Afghanistan, despite all the difficulties.
Germany is one of the largest donors of aid to help rebuild Afghanistan. In addition to participating in Resolute Support, NATO’s training, advice and assistance mission, the Federal Government provides up to 430 million euros annually and is active in the following areas: it supports police rebuilding in Afghanistan, advises the Afghan Government on refugee law, provides aid to internally displaced persons in northern Afghanistan, and is helping to build state structures and infrastructure.
“We expect that Afghanistan, as well, will do its share”
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This aid, Steinmeier went on to say, is tied to certain expectations. Germany, along with the other countries providing assistance, expects “that Afghanistan, as well, will do its share.” For example, it must make significant progress in the spheres of political reforms, human rights and the fight against corruption.
The Afghan government must also cooperate closely with Germany on all migration-related issues. “I hope the readmission agreement that has just been signed with Afghanistan will actually be implemented,” Steinmeier said after the conference. Conditions in the country must be improved, so that young Afghans will not be forced to leave their country, but rather will want to stay and build a brighter future at home.