--check against delivery--
We are glad to welcome President Ghani and Government CEO Abdullah as the core of the new Government of National Unity here in London. This is the start of a new chapter on the way to a stable, prosperous, and democratic Afghanistan. Germany will remain committed to actively supporting Afghanistan in this endeavour.
We also welcome the Afghan Government's Reform Paper on "Realizing Self-Reliance". This document is a sound and also ambitious blueprint for Afghanistan’s future.
The report rightly highlights some of the key challenges: Tackling corruption, scrutinising expenditure and increasing revenue, safeguarding human rights as well as strengthening the role of women in society are crucial issues for Afghanistan’s development. Mobilising the private sector is equally important in order to promote investment and create jobs. All these are worthy endeavours that Germany supports wholeheartedly. There are many ways in which our two countries can cooperate, whether in the fields of vocational training, business or culture. We continue to stand by Afghanistan.
While listing the tremendous challenges which lie ahead, we should not forget what has already been achieved over the last few years. Increased life expectancy, the reduction in the maternal mortality rate, and access to education in schools and universities for boys and girls are some of the most important improvements.
The Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework will remain the bedrock of our cooperation as Afghanistan sets out on its path into the Transformation Decade. Following a quid pro quo approach, the international community and Germany will accompany Afghanistan on its way. The aim is an Afghanistan able to steer its own course while engaging its partners worldwide. The aim is also a country which is safe and secure and at peace with itself and its neighbours.
One thing is clear to the German Government: We have achieved a great deal but we still have a long way to go.
We are looking forward to welcoming both President Ghani and Government CEO Abdullah to Germany tomorrow, where they will meet Chancellor Merkel and Foreign Minister Steinmeier.
Afghanistan has immense potential. It has a young and dedicated workforce, vast mineral wealth and a great entrepreneurial spirit. Germany is convinced that this Unity Government will guide it well on its path towards realising this potential.