Tomorrow's international Afghanistan Conference in Paris will bring together almost 90 states and international organizations to take political stock of the progress made with regard to reconstruction, development and stabilization at the halfway mark of the Afghanistan Compact. During the conference the Afghan National Development Strategy (ANDS) will be presented. This strategy contains a timetable drawn up by the Afghan Government for the key areas of reconstruction until 2012. The objectives of the Compact agreed upon in London 2006 between Afghanistan and the international community are to be implemented by the Afghan side. By assuming more responsibility for its own affairs, Afghanistan is thus taking a major step towards ensuring the country's further development and a brighter future.
Peace in Afghanistan also means security for Germany and Europe. As the fourth largest bilateral donor, Germany is firmly committed to its engagement in Afghanistan and will actively support the implementation of the Afghan National Development Strategy. The German Government has therefore pledged to make available to Afghanistan a total of EUR 420 million for reconstruction in 2008 – 2010. Germany has thus provided financial aid for the entire period identified in the London Afghanistan Compact for the implementation of the medium-term objectives set forth in it. With this commitment, Germany will continue its diverse forms of assistance to Afghanistan at a very high level.
It can be said halfway through the Afghanistan Compact that the networked and balanced deployment of political, development-policy, police and military measures has paid off. Considerable success has already been achieved. Constitutional organs have been built up, the peace dividend of reconstruction is benefiting an increasing proportion of the population, and visible progress has been made in the spheres of infrastructure, health and education. Germany is supporting, among other things, measures aimed at sustainable rural development, the reintegration of refugees into the world of work, and is financing employment programmes, for example labour-intensive infrastructure programmes.
Given the continued fragile security situation, the build-up of Afghan security forces remains a priority. In the field of military engagement, the NATO summit in Bucharest has already made the necessary decisions. The task now is to gradually empower the country to guarantee its own security, and thus to assume in the medium term the tasks performed today by the international community.
Germany has already tripled its support in 2008 for the new Afghan police force. All in all, some 22,000 Afghan police officers have received basic or further training from German instructors since 2002. Furthermore, Germany is currently stepping up the training measures by seconding police instructors on a short-term basis with a view to doubling (compared to 2007) the annual number of trainees to roughly 3000 by 2009.
Thanks to a German initiative and with the Paris Conference in mind, the EU Member States decided on 26 May to double the size of the European police mission EUPOL. The German Government is prepared to increase the number of its police advisers from 60 to 120.
Another pillar in the development of self-supporting security structures in Afghanistan is the training of the Afghan army. Germany has been involved in this field since mid-2006 and has steadily increased the number of its training and mentor teams with a view to training some 7500 Afghan soldiers in Germany's area of responsibility in northern Afghanistan. The current 5 teams with 120 German soldiers will be increased by March 2009 to 7 teams with 200 soldiers. That is three times the number of personnel in 2007.
However, tomorrow's conference in Paris will also offer an opportunity to ascertain how much we have achieved at this halfway point towards implementing the medium-term goals agreed upon in the Afghanistan Compact. The German Government wants to speak frankly with its Afghan partners about the challenges which have to be mastered in order to secure the progress made on a permanent basis: the fight against corruption, improvements in the sphere of good governance, as well as the fight against drug cultivation. Furthermore, ensuring that ordinary people have greater access to education and work is crucial to peaceful and long-term reconstruction.
It is clear that it will require much patience to consolidate the progress made and to master together the challenges to reconstruction and the nation-building process. The presidential and parliamentary elections due to take place in 2009/10 will be a key political milestone. Afghanistan must and will assume increasing responsibility for sustainable and steady development, as envisaged in the new Afghan National Development Strategy. Afghanistan can continue to count on Germany's full support along the path towards a secure and peaceful future.