Making progress on the path to peace

11.02.2019 - Article

The German Bundestag is holding a debate today on the extension of the Bundeswehr’s mandate in Afghanistan. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that it was important for Germany to support Afghanistan right now in order to make lasting peace possible.

Germany intends to continue its engagement for and in Afghanistan

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas meets Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at the Afghanistan Conference in November 2018
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas meets Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at the Afghanistan Conference in November 2018© Florian Gaertner/photothek.net

The Bundestag is holding a debate today, Thursday (21 February), on the extension of the Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan. As part of this mission, Germany has been involved in training, advising and supporting the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces since 1 January 2015.

Foreign Minister Maas emphasised the following in his speech to the Bundestag: “Peace is possible in Afghanistan”, he said, but we were “just at the start of what will surely be a long journey to a potential peace settlement”. In order to “increase the chance of lasting peace taking hold”, the Foreign Minister asked the Bundestag to approve the extension of the mandate until 31 March 2020:

Particularly at this juncture, we need above all else to support the Afghan Government to pave the way for lasting peace.

Germany provides the second largest contingent of international troops in Afghanistan, currently totalling up to 1300 soldiers. The Federal Government intends to continue this work to flank the peace process and the ongoing assistance for the country.

In addition to this, Germany has pledged to continue to support development and stabilisation in Afghanistan with an annual sum of up to 430 million euros until 2020. It is therefore also the second largest donor in the area of civilian reconstruction in Afghanistan.

Encouraging steps on the path to peace

Foreign Minister Maas expressly welcomed President Ashraf Ghani’s offer to negotiate as well as the preparatory talks with the Taliban conducted by the US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad.

In February 2018, President Ashraf Ghani expressed a willingness to engage in peace talks with the Taliban without imposing conditions. Then in June, weapons on both sides were silent for the first time in a long while during a three day ceasefire.

The efforts of Zalmay Khalilzad, US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation at the Department of State, have injected further impetus into the peace process. In January 2019, Ambassdor Khalilzad met Taliban representatives in Doha to conduct initial talks on an Afghan peace process.

Peace can only be achieved by the Afghans themselves

Young Afghan women at a school in Kandahar, Afghanistan
Young Afghan women at a school in Kandahar, Afghanistan© picture alliance / Photoshot

The Federal Government is convinced that a comprehensive peace process under Afghan leadership and responsibility is the only way to achieve long term stability in the country. It is therefore vital that talks now soon take place between the Taliban and the Afghan Government, which the Taliban have so far rejected. This is the only way for the country to have the prospect of a future in which all societal groups can live together in peace and no threat to other countries is posed by Afghanistan.

It is already clear today that the Afghan peace process will be arduous and require the concerted support of the entire international community. The neighbouring states in particular, and also Afghanistan’s international partners, need to be involved in this process.

At the same time, domestic reform in Afghanistan must continue to be pursued in a systematic manner. This includes good governance, the fight against corruption and respect for human rights. It is the only way to bolster public confidence in democratic structures and processes.

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