German servicemen and women have been deployed in Afghanistan for ten years. They risk their lives for peace there and for security at home. For this, we thank them from the bottom of our hearts.
Manyexcessive expectations linked to the operation had to be toned down. The current German Government has set realistic objectives: reconciliation within Afghanistan, peace with its neighbours and sufficiently good governance.
A great deal has already been achieved. However, the path to peace has time and again been overshadowed by brutal terrorist attacks. We must be prepared for further setbacks and casualties.
By the end of 2014 Afghanistan will assume full responsibility for its security. There will no longer be any German combat troops in Afghanistan. Our servicemen and women have been deployed there for ten years. They must not remain in the country for another ten years. We will therefore gradually reduce the Bundeswehr presence and use all of the leverage that is justifiable in terms of security policy to draw down forces as quickly as possible, in keeping with the Bundestag decision.
We will manage the drawdown in a way that does not endanger the sustainability of the transfer process. We will organize the transfer of responsibility in a responsible manner.
Afghanistan must achieve long-term stability so that it does not again become a centre for global terrorism. Therefore the international community must show long-term commitment to reconstruction and development. The Conference on Afghanistan to be held in Bonn this December will send the message that we will not let Afghanistan down, not even after 2014.
Published in the Bild newspaper on 7 October 2011.