European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood
Conference on Afghanistan
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen
The launch today of the Afghanistan Compact is an historic occasion – and a very hopeful one. It signifies that the world remains strongly committed to Afghanistan’s future.
Over the past four years the EU has helped lay the foundations for peace, democracy and economic recovery in Afghanistan. By the end of this year, the European Commission will have allocated over €1.2 billion to Afghanistan for a combination of visible reconstruction; tangible benefits for the population in terms of social services; institutional development and humanitarian aid. We also contributed to organising elections and sent electoral observers for the Parliamentary elections. For 2006, the European Commission will deliver €193 million in development assistance, completing delivery of our Tokyo pledge.
The Compact now provides tools and a blueprint for building greater security; further progress on governance, human rights and rule of law; and increased prosperity and social development, while dealing with the scourge of narcotics.
It is a partnership. It recognises that Afghanistan cannot make sustainable progress alone: it needs the continued strong support of the international community – politically, militarily and financially. But the government and people of Afghanistan also have to take greater ownership and responsibility for dealing with many of the challenges still facing their country.
The challenge over the next five years will be ensuring both sides fulfil their commitments. The detailed benchmarks and timelines will help. The Co-ordination and Monitoring Board will play a crucial role in overseeing the Compact’s implementation. The European Union will actively support its work.
The EU-Afghanistan Joint Declaration adopted last November demonstrated the strength of our commitment to the reconstruction and development effort in the years to come. The European Commission will continue to work closely with other EU Member States to ensure the overall EU effort is well co-ordinated and efficient. Our intention is to focus our future assistance on rural development and counter-narcotics; the health sector; and institution-building, including measures to strengthen both the rule of law and financial sustainability, which are key for Afghanistan’s future. We will also invest in the people by supporting vocational training.
We look forward to working with the government and people of Afghanistan to make the Compact’s vision a reality.