As part of an agenda of strengthening international commitment to a partnership with a sovereign Afghanistan, President Ashraf Ghani last week cemented long-term partnerships between Afghanistan and European nations with concrete commitments to deepen and broaden their support of the Afghan government and people for decades to come.
President Ghani achieved his goal of renewing Afghanistan’s partnership with Europe just as EU governments were setting their future priorities for international aid.
This new chapter in Afghan-European cooperation comes on the heels of the critical decision by NATO to commit to Afghanistan’s long term security, which, combined with the capacity of the Afghan National Forces, strengthens the country’s security posture. The commitments of European nations deepened support to Afghanistan’s economy, government and society. Both developments reflect the international community’s faith in the government to keep Afghanistan on the road to self-reliance and peace.
Over the past year, the president and the government have worked hard to rebuild strategic partnerships that advance Afghan interests. Steps have included: the signing of the Bilateral Security Agreement; the transparency and accountability measures announced in the Realizing Self Reliance Agenda and reported to donors at the Senior Officials Meeting in September; the successful implementation of IMF measures and achievement of all conditions and benchmarks for the first time since 2005; the realization of domestic revenue and budget allocation targets; and the creation of a clear plan for development aid. The strengthened commitment of European allies to help Afghanistan achieve the peaceful, prosperous future its people deserve reflects their confidence in the National Unity Government’s leadership and in the progress on its reform agenda.
These commitments will support the government’s strategies to accelerate its reform agenda, expand jobs throughout the country through investments in energy, transportation, factories, training and access to markets that expand opportunities for the people of Afghanistan.
Country-Specific Commitments: GERMANY
"We have to do everything in our power to develop Afghanistan and create a better future for its people.” Chancellor Angela Merkel, Dec. 2.
1. Framework agreement between the two countries regarding development cooperation: Germany will provide EUR250M through the Ministry of Development and 180M through Ministry of Foreign Affairs through 2020, with priority cooperation in good governance and sustainable economic development, energy, drinking water supply and sanitation, and basic education and vocational training.
2. Germany will contribute EUR 25M to the Jobs for Peace Program.
3. Germany will continue to support NATO’s Resolute Support mission and increase its troops to 980.
4. Agreed to explore the possibility of creating investment guarantees to facilitate German private sector investment to create Afghan jobs and growth.
5. Germany’s Defense Ministry and the Afghan government will jointly host an investment conference in Berlin in January to attract German investors, with a focus on the energy sector.
6. Germany will find ways to connect Afghan products to the port of Hamburg to establish a value chain for Afghan products.
7. Germany will fund vocational skills training for Afghans in electrical work, renewable energy and infrastructure, with a special focus on construction.
Country-Specific Commitments: ITALY
"In 2016 [we] will also continue to work side-by-side with the United States and the international coalition, hand-in-hand with our Afghan brothers, in order to fight terrorism. […] The Italians make a difference in Afghanistan. Herat is one of the safer areas." Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Dec. 1.
1. Italy pledged its support and endorsement for NATO’s Resolute Support mission, including approval of at least 500 Italian troops who will continue to be stationed at the airport in Herat -- a decision that will advance the goal of making Herat airport an international hub and new economic zone.
2. Italy will provide finance up to EUR65M for a 75-kilometer railway to connect Herat with Iran’s rail network, a project whose pre-feasibility phase had been completed and needed funding to begin work. Italy will also provide an additional EUR29M to complete construction project of Herat International Airport.
3. Italy will provide finance up to EUR92M for investment in Herat City-Chast e Sharif corridor/road and infrastructures
4. Italy pledged to facilitate investment by Italian businesses in Afghanistan, particularly in energy sector.
5. Italy and Afghanistan signed a cooperation agreement in the field of culture, science and technology.
Country-Specific Commitments: SWEDEN
“Sweden’s support and engagement in Afghanistan is very broad … and its long-term development cooperation. I also underline that our commitment is long lasting. […] Sweden has committed up to 8.5 billion Swedish kroner over the next 10 years.” Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, Dec. 4.
1. Sweden and Afghanistan signed a development cooperation agreement that paves the road for further accountability of aid disbursement to the government and enables it to track total aid on- and off-budget.
2. Sweden agreed to continue its support through 2024 with a contribution of SK8.7B ($1.2B)
3. Sweden agreed to explore state-supported and private-sector investment in renewable energy projects in Afghanistan.
4. Sweden agreed to help provide vocational training to Afghans.