Speaking to Spiegel Online today (4 October), Foreign Minister Steinmeier issued the following statement on the upcoming Brussels Conference on Afghanistan:
It will soon have been two years since the Afghan army and police force have taken full responsibility for security throughout the country. A sober look shows us that the situation in Afghanistan is still unsettled. Heavy fighting continues in some regions, and many people continue to lose friends and loved ones to terrorist attacks. Moreover, some state structures are weak, and this along with the crippling effect of corruption is harming the country’s economic development. In addition, political turf battles are making it more difficult to initiate a peace process.
One thing is clear: the road to stability, development and peace is still quite long. However, we cannot abandon Afghanistan halfway along this road, thereby jeopardising all that has been achieved. We want the country to be less dependent on international assistance in the future, so that Afghans will not be forced to leave their country, but rather will want to stay and build a brighter future at home.
That is the message we sent during NATO’s Warsaw Summit, and it is the same message we are sending this week with the conference in Brussels. A top priority will be to ensure continued funding for civilian reconstruction during the coming years. At the same time, we expect the Afghan government to clearly commit to achieving progress on implementing the reform agenda.
At this time, the political actors in Afghanistan must assume responsibility for the well‑being of the people in their country – by building up the security forces, implementing reforms and fighting corruption. That is the only way to build trust and improve economic opportunity.Afghanistan and the Afghan people can count on Germany’s support for this.
The Federal Foreign Office issued the following additional statement:
Germany is one of the largest donors to Afghanistan. In addition to participating in Resolute Support, NATO’s training, advice and assistance mission, the Federal Government provides 430 million euros annually for stabilisation and civilian reconstruction (including 70 million euros for the Afghan police force), as well as an additional 80 million euros for the Afghan security forces.
Germany is active in many ways in the country. For example, the Federal Government supports police rebuilding in Afghanistan, advises the Afghan Government on refugee law, provides aid to internally displaced persons in northern Afghanistan, and is helping to build state structures and infrastructure.
It is not surprising that Afghanistan’s road to reconstruction is not easy; it was clear that many obstacles would need to be overcome, and that there would be setbacks. Nevertheless, progress has been made during the last decade, in the spheres of health care, education, infrastructure, women’s rights, and public administration.
The international community is aiming to maintain the hard‑fought progress, as well as to move forward with efforts that have been successful. At the same time, further destabilisation of the country must be prevented.
We will live up to the responsibility that we have assumed. Germany is willing to continue to support development and reconstruction in Afghanistan, and is pledging to make available up to 1.7 billion euros over the next four years.
Foreign Minister Steinmeier will make very clear at the conference in Brussels that this engagement is tied to clear expectations. The most important of these is that the government must assume responsibility, take effective action, represent the entire population and fully respect the constitution.
It must work to enable progress on the reform agenda, in the fight against corruption, on protection of human rights and on promoting democracy and economic development.
The Afghan government must also continue to closely cooperate on all migration-related issues.
These are essential prerequisites for guaranteeing that our support can be maintained, and that these efforts will be effective. The stabilisation of Afghanistan can only succeed if the political actors assume their responsibility for the well‑being of the people in their country. Things cannot simply continue on as they have been.
In the end, only a political process of reconciliation with the various insurgent groups in the country will bring lasting peace. The top priority now must be to initiate such a process.