Europeans promised long-term economic assistance: Ghani
At the head of a high level delegation, President Ghani visited Italy, Germany and Sweden and returned to Kabul two days ago. The president told a press conference here that besides NATO’s long term cooperation in diverse fields, the European Union would extend Afghanistan economic cooperation for the next decade and a framework in this regard had been prepared and would be signed later.
About his France trip, President Ghani said he expressed solidarity with the country over the recent terrorist attack. “Most of the world’s Muslims, particularly the people of Afghanistan, hate terrorism. The Afghans are victim of terrorism. We should not let a small minority to earn a bad name to the above one billion Muslims.”
President Ghani, who attended the UN summit on climate change in Paris, said Afghanistan was among the countries impacted by the climate change. “Forty years ago, drought spell would grip Afghanistan after every 30 years and a severe drought after each 100 years, but now the cycle has reduced to three years. The conference in France agreed to assist nations hit by natural disasters.”
The president said he insisted at the Paris summit that Afghanistan has the ability to bring into use its natural and human resources and benefit from modern technology to have a stable economy and a prosperous society.
He said Afghanistan has the capacity to produce 316,000 megawatts of hydropower and become a major energy exporter to Pakistan and India. “We should get rid of energy produced from oil and coal which have negative impact on the natural environment,” he said. As an outcome of the Paris meeting, Ghani said developed countries promised they would set up a $100 million fund to help developing countries. “This paves the ground for us to attract resources based on the special strategy we have in completion with others to develop Afghanistan’s infrastructure.”
About his trip to Germany, the president said the country was ready to increase its forces in Afghanistan, keep a presence in the north and extend additional assistance to the Afghan National Army’s 209 Crops besides assisting the Afghan government in strengthening the police force. “The German presence means the Mazar-i-Sharif airport will expand and also Kunduz will be provided needed assistance.”
He said Germany would provide Afghanistan 330 million Euros in aid until 2020 and the bulk of the aid would go to human resource development. Germany would also cooperate with China’s 10,000 apartments project in Kabul in partnership with Sweden.
He said he had urged German investors to make investment in Afghanistan and it was agreed with them that the Afghan government would pave the ground for their investments.
The president said Italy would keep 500 troops in the airport in western Heart province and the country had set aside 29 million Euros for completion of the airport. Italy would assist Afghanistan in the construction of Herat City-Chishti Sharif road and connecting western Herat province with Iran’s railways network.
He said Sweden was the first country pledging to spend one billion Euros through the Afghanistan government during the transformation decade. An agreement in this regard had been reached with Sweden, he said.
Meanwhile, a statement from the Presidential Palace said President Ghani during his trip to Europe was able to win renewed international pledges of assistance with Afghanistan. It said the new chapter of Europe cooperation with Afghanistan followed NATO’s firm decision to continue supporting Afghanistan in area of security including strengthening security and improving the capacity of Afghan security forces.
Germany would spend 250 million Euros through the Afghan Ministry of Rural Development and 180 million Euros through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on good governance, stable economic development, energy, clean drinking water, health, basic education and vocation training programmes until 2020 under a memorandum of understanding between the two countries, the statement said.
It said Germany supported NATO’s resolute support mission and promised to increase the number of German troops to 980 in Afghanistan and also pledged to encourage the private sector to make investment in Afghanistan and a joint conference in Berlin involving German investors would be organized in January.
Germany would also help Afghan reinforce its revenue collection system, electricity, energy and professional education programmes.
Italy would keep 500 troops at Herat Airport and provide 29 million Euros to complete the airport and another 65 million Euros for laying the 75 kilometer railroad that connects Herat province with Iran’s railways network. Italy would also provide resources worth 92 million Euros for the Herat-Chishti Sharif road project and other infrastructure development projects on soft terms, the statement said.
Italy promised to facilitate companies investing in Afghanistan’s energy sector and both countries reached a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in areas of culture, science and technology.
Sweden agreed to provide Afghanistan with 1.2 billion Euros until 2024, prepare technical and vocational education programmes and encourage Swedish investors towards investment in Afghanistan energy sector.
At the press conference, President Ghani said Afghanistan had so far collected 112 billion afghanis revenue while the collection of 114.2 billion afghanis had been endorsed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). With two weeks remaining in the outgoing fiscal year, Ghani said it was for the first time that Afghanistan’s annual revenue collection target had been achieved.
About the migration of Afghans to foreign countries, the President said: “I feel the plight of refugees from the core of my heart because I come from a nation that has been forced into migration. My comment had not been intended as an insult.”
Ghani said Afghanistan has lost two generations of professionals abroad after decades of war. "How many of our people with a doctoral decree, including members of my own family, have become taxi drivers because they need to earn a piece of bread?" he said.
About his participation in The Heart of Asia conference in Islamabad, the president said was attending the summit because it was not a conference of Pakistan but a conference of Afghanistan.
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.