President Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah, Undersecretary General, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Germany has made a lasting commitment to Afghanistan. We support development and stabilization with up to 430 million euros of civilian assistance every year until 2020. Up to 50 German policemen and women help Afghanistan build a strong police force. Up to 1,300 German soldiers train, assist and advise their Afghan colleagues in NATO’s Resolute Support Mission. Thus, Germany is the 2nd biggest bilateral civilian donor and the 2nd biggest troop contributor to RSM.
We all know: the situation in Afghanistan is far from perfect, despite remarkable achievements. A lot of people ask how many more years they will have to wait until Afghans can again live and work in security and without the fear of terrorism. But there are no quick fixes for a country that has gone through two generations of conflict and poverty. Afghanistan needs long term cooperation among all of us, as a multilateral effort.
Since 2014, Afghans have taken the lead in rebuilding their country. The Afghan security forces fight bravely to defend their homes. This year, Afghan citizens have turned out to vote in impressive numbers in the first parliamentary elections run exclusively by Afghan institutions. The holding of parliamentary elections in October was an important step towards the consolidation of democracy. It is now crucial that the right lessons will be learned for the upcoming Presidential elections to be held in April 2019.
We expect that the government will continue to work in an inclusive way for the interests of the country, in accordance with the constitution. With appreciation we note that civil society, including a new generation of young Afghan men and women, has become an active player in shaping the future of the country. More efforts are needed to ensure that civil society is sufficiently consulted on key development processes.
The Afghan government has taken important steps to implement its National Peace and Development Plan and to fight corruption.
But this is obviously not enough. International support is part of a two-way agreement: our taxpayers can only be asked to continue their contribution if the Afghan government takes more decisive action on reforms, especially in fighting corruption, reducing poverty and improving conditions for economic development. In this context, we welcome the adoption of the GMAF. In this context, the common challenge of migration needs our continued attention and cooperation.
Most importantly, progress is needed towards a peace process. An agreement between all main political actors in Afghanistan, in particular between the government and the Taliban, is the only realistic way to stop violence, to confront the terrorism of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, and to protect the human rights of Afghanistan’s citizens, especially women and children. It is time for the Taliban to listen to the call from the Afghan people and come to the table. The Afghan government, through its peace offer and the initiative of a ceasefire earlier this year, has shown the world that political solutions are possible. But again, all groups of society have to be included in a meaningful, sustainable peace process.
Together with our partners, Germany is ready to offer support for an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace process and to take part in a discussion about the future role of the international community in Afghanistan.
If peace is our common perspective, we must now begin to think ahead and beyond 2020. What can each of us do - so that the people of Afghanistan and the region can feel the benefits of peace? For its part, Germany is ready to continue its civilian cooperation also after the time when the presence of international forces will no longer be needed.