Speech by Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Kabul on the centenary of German-Afghan friendship

30.08.2015 - Speech

Mr President,
Chief Executive Officer,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Allow me to offer you my sincere thanks for giving me such a warm welcome, Mr President. Each time I visit Afghanistan, I am reminded that we are here among friends.

The foundations of this friendship were laid one hundred years ago in 1915 when the first German legation officially established contact with the Afghan side following an adventurous journey. There was no honourable motive behind this mission undertaken in the thick of the First World War. Its political goals were questionable and the mission ended in failure. And yet this encounter laid the foundations for a special relationship between our countries. A relationship in which, from the very outset, Germany treated Afghanistan as an independent and equal partner.

Not long afterwards, more than 200 German experts were working in Afghanistan. Water channels were dug, telegraph lines laid and schools built. The first group of young Afghans arrived in Germany to embark on their studies in 1922. And King Amanullah went on a state visit to Germany six years later in 1928. The schools agreement, the facsimile of which I had the honour of presenting to you today, Mr President, was also concluded that very same year. It is no coincidence that we chose this document. After all, cooperation between our countries in the field of education plays a key role to this day.

Ladies and gentlemen,

A friend in need is a friend indeed, or so the saying goes. Germany has provided more development aid financially for Afghanistan than for any other country. Per‑capita incomes in Afghanistan have more than doubled since the Taliban regime was toppled while many girls and boys are now able to go to school. Afghanistan’s first peaceful transition of power took place last year. This is thanks not only to the Afghan people’s will to rebuild their country, but also to unprecedented international support.

We are grateful to our development workers and soldiers working in Afghanistan under difficult conditions. Fifty-five German soldiers and three German police officers lost their lives here. We commemorate them today.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Afghanistan is at a crossroads. Assuming responsibility for security is posing a major challenge for the Afghan security forces. Civilians are still falling victim to violence almost on a daily basis.

But there are also signs of hope. Direct intra-Afghan peace talks have been held for the very first time. This is an opportunity that cannot be missed.

Germany shall continue to lend its support to Afghanistan – in the civilian sphere, as well as in efforts to shore up the Afghan security forces. Our aim is clear: Afghanistan must stand on its own two feet in order to ensure stability and development. This includes urgent work to implement reforms to facilitate economic development.

Mr President,

“As has been the case up until the present, inviolable peace and lasting and sincere friendship shall be the hallmark of relations between Germany and Afghanistan from now on.” – That is what the treaty of friendship said back then. And I can’t put it any better today. May our friendship blossom and flourish!

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