EU wants Kabul to focus on reform, peace process
KABUL (Pajhwok): The European Union on Wednesday called on the Afghan government to accelerate reform, eliminate corruption and focus on political stability, peace and security.
In his remarks at the Brussels Conference, European Council Donald Tusk said security and prosperity began to reinforce each other in a virtuous cycle, an experiencethat Europe saw in its postwar history.
“To get to that situation in Afghanistan, we need a viable peace process, reform of the judiciary and proper parliamentary elections. We need stronger state institutions,” he said in a doorstep statement,
With these imperatives in mind, he added, the European Union and Afghanistan had signed a state-building contract worth 200 million euros to support stability and good governance in the conflict-devastated country.
Besides representatives of 75 countries and 25 international organisations, he greeted President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah and other Afghan government officials attending the event.
“In today's world, responsible nations face many serious challenges at the same time. Despite this, the interest and level of engagement in Afghanistan show that the international community's commitment remains strong, even after 15 years.”
“We will be supporting international efforts and local capacity-building with around 1.3 billion euros this year, and will maintain this effort until 2020. More than 4,100 EU nationals are assisting local security forces, primarily through the NATO-led Operation Resolute Support and the EU's police training mission in Kabul.”
In 2001, he recalled, only one million children were in school and almost all of those were boys. Today, Tusk said, more than 9 million children, nearly 40 per cent of them girls, were enrolled.
During the period, access to primary healthcare increased from 9 percent of the population to more than 57 percent. He also noted reforms in public finance management, justice, anti-corruption and human rights.
The Polish politician warned Afghanistan could easily slide back into extremism, narcotics and political factionalism in the absence of international support.
Afghanistan would overcome the vicious cycle of fragility, poverty and violent extremism only with the help and cooperation of its neighbours, he stressed. Besides financial aid, he sought support for peace efforts in the country.
“An end to the climate of conflict will bring benefits to every single country in the region, also economically. Therefore I appeal to every country to act responsibly in the interests of a stable Afghanistan.”
EU countries were doing their bit to support humanitarian relief efforts for internally displaced persons besides helping host communities support refugees in the region, the European Council president continued.
He urged countries to take back irregular economic migrantsin line with international standards and obligations. “That is why I want to thank the Afghan government for its courage in agreeing a way forward to manage migration fairly in cooperation with the European Union.
“We will support this agreement with money and job-creation programmes to reintegrate returning migrants to the benefit of their local communities,” Tusk promised.
He said the Afghans were at a crossroads, with one road leading back to violence, endemic poverty and regional instability and the other to self-sufficiency, prosperity and a new generation of healthy, educated girls and boys.
“Unlike some, I do not believe that the Afghans are doomed to repeat a troubled history over and over. As the great poet Rumi - who the Afghans call Jalāl ad-DīnBalkhī - once said: "Yesterday is gone and its tale told. Today new seeds are growing.”
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