Interview with Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on the continued German engagement in Afghanistan.Published in the Leipziger Volkszeitung on 20 April 2013.
Do you expect Kabul to provide a guarantee that German military personnel will be welcome after 2014?
In addition to a UN Security Council mandate and an approach coordinated with our partners, we would of course need an invitation to stay from the Afghan Government. We want to be Afghanistan’s partner. Just like our civilian aid workers, our military instructors must be welcome.
Will the next German Government really be free in its decision?
It goes without saying that the Federal Government and the Bundestag will not take a decision on the concrete shape and form of the German engagement in Afghanistan post-2014 until after the next general election. We have a valid mandate for our mission until February 2014. But it is important that, on the basis of a realistic assessment of the situation, we indicate to our allies and to the Afghans what kind of German contribution will be possible post-2014.
What lessons have you learned from the German and international Afghanistan mission?
When tackling a conflict situation such as the one in Afghanistan, it is vital to set realistic goals right from the start. Back in 2002 and subsequent years, expectations were sometimes unrealistic. Moreover, we should have learned by now that in complex conflict situations like the one in Afghanistan, purely military solutions do not work. During the last few years experience has shown – and not only in Afghanistan – that military solutions are not simple or quick, nor do they lead to long-term stability. The objective, therefore, must always be a political solution, if necessary with military back-up.
Interview conducted by Dieter Wonka. Reproduced by kind permission of the Leipziger Volkszeitung.