Since the end of Taliban rule in Afghanistan 18 years ago, the international community has been supporting the country on its way to lasting peace. Despite the difficult security situation, the Afghan Government has recently seen successes along this path that give cause for hope.
Peace can only be achieved by the Afghans themselves
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. That is the only way for Afghanistan to have the prospect of a future in which all societal groups can live together in peace and no threat to other countries goes out from Afghan soil.
It is already clear that the Afghan peace process will be arduous and require the concerted support of the entire international community. The neighbouring states in particular, but also Afghanistan’s international partners need to be involved in this process.
At the same time, the domestic reforms in Afghanistan need to be resolutely driven further forward. These include good governance, the fight against corruption and respect for human rights. The experiences gleaned from the parliamentary elections need to be channelled into the organisation of the presidential elections scheduled for July 2019 and shortcomings be addressed. That is the only way to bolster public confidence in democratic structures and processes.
Germany intends to continue its engagement for and in Afghanistan
In view of these positive developments, Germany has pledged to continue to support development and stabilisation in Afghanistan with an annual sum of up to 430 million euros until 2020, making it the second-largest donor in the area of civilian reconstruction in Afghanistan.
Germany also provides the second-largest contingent of international troops in Afghanistan, currently totalling up to 1300 soldiers. This engagement, too, is to be continued to flank the peace process and the ongoing assistance for the country. On 13 February, the Federal Cabinet approved the extension of the mandate for the Bundeswehr’s participation in the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission until 31 March 2020. With this mission, Germany has been involved in training, advising and supporting the Afghan National Security Forces since 1 January 2015. The German Bundestag still has to approve the extension.
Steps of hope on the way to peace
Germany welcomes and supports the new momentum in the peace-building efforts in Afghanistan. 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. Furthermore, in October 2018, the first parliamentary elections under sole Afghan responsibility were held. Despite attacks and massive intimidation attempts, a large number of people made use of their right to vote. More than ten times as many candidates canvassed for the 250 seats in the House of the People, including many well-educated young women.
The efforts of Zalmay Khalilzad, US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation at the Department of State, have given further impetus to the peace process. In January 2019, Ambassdor Khalilzad met Taliban representatives in Doha to conduct initial talks on an Afghan peace process.