German Ambassador Werner Hans Lauk and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Borodavkin presented two rescue helicopters to Afghan Minister of Interior Atmar today at a ceremony held at Kabul airport. The helicopters are intended specifically for the Afghan police force which plans to use them to help ensure security during the elections on 20 August.
In this connection Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier issued the following statement today (11 August):
“I am pleased that the two medevac helicopters were handed over to the Afghan police force today. Particularly in light of the upcoming elections that are so crucial for Afghanistan, this is another important building block of our comprehensive efforts to bolster the Afghan security forces.
I hope that this project will spark further joint projects and increased Russian engagement in Afghanistan’s reconstruction.”
During a visit to Berlin in December 2008, Afghan Minister of Interior Atmar asked the German Government for support in obtaining two rescue helicopters for the Afghan police.
The Federal Foreign Office worked closely with the Russian Emergency Ministry to obtain two refurbished Mi-8 helicopters and had them outfitted for providing emergency medical services and transport for police officers wounded in the line of duty. Germany and Russia are each covering half of the project’s costs (approximately 14 million USD).
This project is part of Germany’s longstanding commitment to building up and training the Afghan police force. In 2009 alone, the Federal Foreign Office has made over 40 million euro available for this purpose.