How much longer are German soldiers going to be fighting a war in Afghanistan?
I don’t want to gloss over anything – we’re extremely concerned about the situation there. But the Taliban must be prevented from seizing power again, for that would gravely threaten not only Afghanistan’s security but also Europe’s and Germany’s security. We are all appalled by the large number of Afghan civilians and ISAF soldiers who have been killed. This highlights even more clearly the urgent nature of this task ...
... which will be finished when?
In 2011 we plan to hand over to the Afghans responsibility for the first provinces as well as to downsize our Bundeswehr contingent for the first time. Next week I will be attending the first international conference on Afghanistan to be held in Afghanistan itself. This conference can be a milestone. Our goal is to hand over to the Afghan Government full responsibility for the country’s security by 2014.
Are there likely to be any more Bundeswehr deployments abroad?
In many parts of the world – like the Western Balkans – we’ve scaled down such deployments. For example, we’ve cut the maximum number of German soldiers serving in Kosovo under the KFOR mandate from 3500 to 2500 and those serving in Lebanon under the UNIFIL mandate from 800 to 300. And we’ve completely ended our deployment under the OEF mandate to combat terrorism off the Horn of Africa. As Foreign Minister, I believe these are responsible and important reductions. I see no reason to speculate on any new deployments. That is something no one wishes for.