Opening statement by Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier at the International Afghanistan Conference in Paris on 12 June 2008
-- Translation of advance text --
Ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to thank my colleague, Minister Kouchner, for hosting this meeting.
This Conference is a clear signal of the international community's deep commitment to the Afghan people.
It provides an opportunity to take stock of our progress at the half-way point of the benchmarks of the Afghanistan Compact. What have we achieved and – even more importantly – where do we have to step up our efforts? With his excellent analysis, the UN Special Representative has frankly outlined the problem areas but also shown ways of overcoming the shortfalls.
There are three points I am keen to emphasize.
Yes, despite the major challenges we face, we can be proud in year seven of the reconstruction process of what we have achieved: democratically legitimized institutions, major progress in the country's development, above all in the fields of education and health.
We always have to be aware of the ultimate aim of our efforts: to make Afghanistan able to stand on its own two feet: with strong and stable democratically legitimized state institutions, an internal order which guarantees the basic rights of all Afghans and development perspectives which enable them to live self-determined lives. That is why we welcome the increased Afghan ownership as reflected in the Afghan Development Strategy which has been presented today.
We will help Afghanistan continue along that path, both politically and financially. Also in the years to come, we will continue our commitment at a high level.
It does not take away from our achievements to point out that we also face major challenges. Let me cite two examples:
We need to step up our efforts when it comes to training the Afghan security forces. That is why the EU decided to double the staffing levels for the EUPOL mission. Germany will also intensify its efforts in the field of training the Afghan Army.
As far as increased ownership is concerned, this will primarily be reflected in governance itself. Only by resolute action against corruption and by reinforced rule-of-law structures can our commitment come to fruition.
Kai Eide is now the new Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan. I would like to take this opportunity to wish him well in this difficult post. We vest our full confidence in him as the supreme coordinator of the reconstruction process.
I am convinced we can together master the tasks that lie ahead. Nevertheless, simply carrying on as we have been doing will not be enough. We have to preserve the ability to take a self-critical look at our work so far. And where deficits become apparent, we have to be prepared to revise and refine. Germany will do all it can to support Afghanistan.
Thank you very much.