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"The EU Stands by Afghanistan"
EU Troika Meeting with Afghanistan in Berlin
EU Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier

The European Union Troika held its second meeting with Afghanistan on Monday, 29 January 2007, at the Federal Foreign Office. The meeting was chaired by Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and attended by EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana and EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner. The Afghan delegation was led by Foreign Minister Rangin Spanta. Portuguese Foreign Minister Luis Amada also attended as representative of the next Council Presidency.

At the end of two and a half hours of intensive talks Minister Steinmeier emphasized that the intention of the first Troika meeting with Afghanistan to be held during the German Presidency was to send a clear message that "the EU stands by Afghanistan." The main focus of the talks, he explained, was the planned cooperation between the EU and Afghanistan to stabilize and rebuild the country. In this connection the Minister pointed out that security and development were complementary and mutually reinforcing. He made clear that it was now more important than ever to win over "hearts and minds" by stepping up civilian efforts – albeit without neglecting any necessary security assistance. The EU was very keen, he noted, for civilian and military activities to be better interlinked. Against this background the EU would in future also give high priority to intensified efforts to develop Afghanistan's security forces and justice system.

Foreign Minister Spanta expressed satisfaction over the constructive atmosphere of the talks as well as the continued engagement of the EU partners and the international community. He also stressed, however, the need for greater efforts to promote security and civilian reconstruction. Thanks to joint endeavours and despite the many problems that still existed, a great deal had been achieved, he emphasized, over the five years since the end of Taliban rule and that should not be forgotten. As an example he pointed to the progress made in strengthening human rights and women's rights, adding that some 28% of the members of the Afghan Parliament and 38% of the country's students were women.

High Representative Solana highlighted the importance of continued active support for Afghanistan's efforts to build up its national security forces. He noted that the EU was considering a substantial increase in its support for building and training the Afghan police force on the basis of the German model. At the General Affairs Council in February foreign ministers would hold further discussions about such a police mission within the framework of the European Security and Defence Policy.

In similar vein Benita Ferrero-Waldner commented that "in future the key, I believe, will be to coordinate our activities in the civilian and the military sphere." She drew attention to what had already been achieved in terms of infrastructure development as well as to the cooperation planned in the field of justice administration. Over the next four years the European Commission is to invest a further 600 million euro in development projects as well as schemes to restructure the country's agriculture.

Portuguese Foreign Minister Abado recalled that the European Union enjoyed intensive and balanced cooperation with both the United Nations and NATO. Like the other participants, he noted that the holding of the first Troika meeting with Afghanistan in Berlin underscored the importance the EU and the German Presidency attached to cooperation with Kabul.






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