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EU pledges €600m in aid to Afghanistan

EU pledges €600m in aid to Afghanistan

Jul 17, 2011 - 16:54

KABULinfo-icon (PANinfo-icon): The European Union'sspecial representative and the head of the EUmission for Afghanistaninfo-icon, Vygaudas Ušackas, announced €600 million assistance for the country on Sunday.

“We want to hear good news about the people and the government of Afghanistan. The news which can encourage European donors to continue assisting Afghanistan," Osackas told Pajhwok Afghan News in an exclusive interview.

"Bringing reforms to government departments, ensuring good governance, the rule of law and a transparent audit system can help increase EU assistance to Afghanistan," the diplomat said.

He added international donors would discuss aid to Afghanistan during a conference of foreign ministers from 27 EU member countries in Belgium. The conference is scheduled to take place on July 18.

“I am sure the conference will send a strong message of continued assistance to Afghanistan from EU member countries,” he remarked.

Ušackas said the EU assistance would be spent on good governance, modernising the agricultureinfo-icon sector, healthinfo-icon facilities and supporting regional cooperation.

“We are waiting for proposals from the Afghan government to know how much money it needs and for what purpose,” he said, adding the EU had decided to spend 50 percent of its assistance through the Afghan government.

The government is currently authorised to use 20 percent of international aid, according to the Ministry of Finance.

The envoy said though the government lacked the ability to use all the aid, yet the EU was ready to expend most of its assistance on building government departments' capacity.

Most of the projects in remote areas of the country were being implemented by the Afghan government in cooperation with foreign non-governmental organisations, he said.

"The EU wants to spend €40 million on capacity development of government employees in four provinces, including Kandahar, Herat, Balkh and Nangarhar," he explained.

“I think the security transition process is an important matter. It is like handing over the keys of a house to its owner,” Ušackas said. The transition began with the withdrawal of the first US troops from central Parwan province on Wednesday.

The transition is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2014. Panjsher, Bamyan and Kabul, except Sarobi district, Herat City, Lashkargah, Mazar-i-Sharif and Mahtarlam are set to be handed over to local forces.

“I am happy with efforts for peace and I hope peace and stability will return, if this struggle is carried out with sincerity,” he continued.

Since 2002, the EU has provided Afghanistan €6 billion to help promote agriculture, health and other sectors. Currently, EU countries have 33,000 troops in Afghanistan under command of the International Security Assistance Force.


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