“Open letter” on the completion of the ISAF mission

Straßenszene in Kabul

Straßenszene in Kabul, © picture-alliance/Zuma Press

29.12.2014 - Press release

Joint press release of the Federal Foreign Office, the Federal Ministry of the Interior, the Federal Ministry of Defence and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development


September 11, 2001, shocked the world, with 3000 killed in the attack on the World Trade Center. Then came the Islamist attacks in Bali, Djerba and Casablanca. In all of those places, Germans were among the victims. Europe wasn’t spared either, and hundreds died in the attacks in London and Madrid. The perpetrators’ bloody crimes had their origin in Afghanistan’s training camps. The international community united against the terrorist threat and the Security Council of the United Nations adopted a mandate to ensure that Afghanistan would not continue to be a place where international terrorism could recruit and train terrorists and plan attacks undisturbed. It was on this basis that our involvement in Afghanistan began, together with 40 other nations.

With the completion of the ISAF mission in the coming few days, the most extensive commitment of the German military in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany is coming to an end. The training, advisory and support mission Resolute Support will commence at the beginning of 2015. Together with our allies, our soldiers were deployed in Afghanistan for over 13 years, far away from the borders of their own country. Responsibility for their task to stabilise the country, and to fight if necessary, was taken by Germany’s various governments, which always enjoyed a broad mandate from the German Bundestag.

Germany’s involvement in and for Afghanistan was and remains a diverse and long‑term project: in addition to our military presence, countless German diplomats, police officers and employees of organisations involved in development cooperation have sought over the years to improve the daily lives and future prospects of the Afghan people and to contribute to the process of reconciliation in this country that has had to endure so much.

The Federal Government’s actions are informed by the understanding that security, development and an inner‑Afghan process of reconciliation are decisive factors for a future of stability and prosperity for Afghanistan. Guided by this conviction, considerable progress has been made in recent years, with effects that can be felt directly by the people.

For example, Afghanistan’s GDP has increased more than sixfold since 2001. More people than ever before have access to clean water and electricity, as well as to medical care and education. Their life expectancy has also increased considerably. With the support of the international community, roads, schools, hospitals and power plants have been built and other infrastructure restored. Some initial progress has also been made in the area of setting up administrative and rule‑of‑law structures.

Of course, our involvement was also a learning curve, with expectations that were initially too high, some plans that were too ambitious and many projects still unfinished. Efforts to combat corruption and drug production have, at best, been proceeding at a slow pace up until now. While the security situation is much better than at the beginning of the ISAF mission, it remains fragile.

But above all, we can say that the world is no longer threatened by terror from Afghanistan as it was under the Taliban’s reign of terror prior to the attacks of 11 September 2011.

Germany’s involvement in Afghanistan is highly valued, respected and recognised – among the people in Afghanistan and our international partners and allies alike.

Without the extraordinary commitment of our diplomats, police officers, development experts and soldiers and without the personal dedication of these women and men on the ground – often under difficult and sometimes extremely dangerous conditions – ideas and concepts would never have become a reality and we would not have been able to make progress in the area of stability and development and therefore enhance our security.

At the end of NATO’s ISAF mission and the beginning of the new training, advisory and support mission Resolute Support, it is time to say thank you. Together and publicly, we would like to thank all of those who accepted great hardships for themselves and their families on our behalf to achieve the best possible security for us and worked for a more stable Afghanistan better able to face the challenges of the future.

The families and friends of those who lost their lives in Afghanistan or who returned with physical or psychological trauma are also in our thoughts. They will not be forgotten and we will continue to support them.

Signed by

Dr Frank-Walter Steinmeier
Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs

Dr Thomas de Maizière
Federal Minister of the Interior

Dr Ursula von der Leyen
Federal Minister of Defence

Dr Gerd Müller
Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development

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