There’s always more bad news from Afghanistan. And now the financial system is threatening to collapse. Is Afghanistan at a crossroads?
We have to take the news very seriously. We expect the Afghan Government to take a firm line against corruption.
Generally speaking, there have been successes in Afghanistan but also bitter setbacks. The security situation has deteriorated considerably in some regions. However, there have been successes in reconstruction, for example the number of girls attending school or women going to work. The planned peace council could be a key step towards internal reconciliation. For although military measures and economic reconstruction remain important pillars, the crucial third pillar for ensuring lasting stability is a viable political solution.
Is the international community shirking its responsibility?
We will remain engaged in Afghanistan beyond the hand-over of responsibility planned for 2014. However, it’s clear that peace in Afghanistan can only be achieved by the Afghans themselves. That’s why we’re supporting the process of reconciliation and reintegration.
A new drive for peace in the Middle East – why should it work out this time?
The resistance to peace is considerable, so I’m just cautiously optimistic. Nevertheless, the fact that the talks in Washington took place at all is an enormous step forward which we welcome. I appeal to both sides to create an environment which will make it possible for peace negotiations to be successful. They should desist from doing anything which could jeopardize this historic opportunity, also when it comes to making decisions on settlement policy. Above all, however, we strongly condemn the acts of violence committed by Hamas.
How can the German Government help ensure the positive outcome of this process?
Our job is to support moderate forces in the region. I’ve been committed to that from the outset. We have a special responsibility and special ties with Israel. On the other hand, we are doing much to ensure that the conditions for building a state are created in the Palestinian territories, for example through the establishment of the German-Palestinian Steering Committee.
Published in the Passauer Neue Presse on 8 September 2010