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Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,
The fact that we are meeting here in Kabul today, only seven months after our initial meeting in Istanbul, shows the impressive dynamics of the “Heart of Asia” process.
This process is one between neighbours. Between those who live in the region. Between those, who are immediately affected by its future.
I would like to congratulate Afghanistan on its leadership, and the region on its ownership.
Let me also express my great respect for Turkey and its guidance in the Istanbul process.
Regional cooperation is crucial for peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region as a whole.
In Europe, centuries of war and mistrust have finally been overcome by ambitious regional cooperation. In this regard we have a lot of experience and knowledge to offer.
The international community will remain firmly engaged in Afghanistan during the transformation decade after 2014.
Our diplomats, our civilian reconstruction specialists, our aid workers, and our continued and enduring support for the Afghan people will remain.
We will also continue to train, advise and assist the Afghan National Security Forces. NATO and its allies and partners have made it very clear that our presence in Afghanistan will not pose a threat to any other country. We will not forget the people of Afghanistan.
We all know: There is still a lot to be done in Afghanistan. Terrorism, extremism, drug trafficking and organised crime remain serious threats. Some are global, most are regional.
This requires regional efforts and cooperation based on trust, confidence and shared values. This also puts the region in the driver’s seat.
Today’s conference is an impressive demonstration of this common purpose.
While every one of the neighbours may look at Afghanistan from a slightly different angle, and certainly with a different history, you have all come here to address these challenges. You all have a legitimate stake in the future of Afghanistan.
Germany will actively support the Istanbul process as an observer. I would also like to offer our expertise in the areas of regional infrastructure and Chambers of Commerce. We are looking forward to working with our partners in the region.
Thank you very much.