January 21st, 2010, Berlin
The NATO mission in Afghanistan has entered a critical phase. Germany is faced with the question of whether it should expand its military and civil involvement in the north of Afghanistan on the lines of the new US strategy, and, if so, what its aims and tasks should be. A decision will be taken after the Afghanistan Conference in London on 28 January.
A week before the London conference Körber Foundation’s Afghanistan Forum on “Stability for Afghanistan” provided an opportunity to discuss the priorities and perspectives of German involvement in Afghanistan within the framework of a small group and in a confidential atmosphere.
What short-term, medium-term and long-term goals should Germany be pursuing at the foot of the Hindu Kush? What specific contribution can Germany make to security, development cooperation and good governance in the area in the north of the country for which it is responsible? And what are the prospects for a reduction of the German presence?
Experts from Germany and other countries and representatives of the German Army, the Federal Intelligence Service and non-governmental organizations took part in the Forum in addition to senior representatives of the German government, and numerous members of the German Parliament from all the political parties, including the Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Ruprecht Polenz, and the Deputy Chairmen of the Parliamentary Parties, Gernot Erler, Frithjof Schmidt and Andreas Schockenhoff.
The Forum was opened by German Foreign Minister, Guido Westerwelle, who spoke about the role of Germany in Afghanistan and what was expected of the London conference. After this the participants discussed the security situation and the concept of the comprehensive approach with Christian Schmidt, Parliamentary State Secretary in the German Ministry of Defence. Senior Adviser to President Karzai and former Foreign Minister of Afghanistan, Rangin Dadfar Spanta, explained his thoughts about Germany’s role in Afghanistan, and German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Dirk Niebel spoke about the opportunities for German development cooperation and civilian reconstruction. In a video conference with Richard Holbrooke, Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, the participants discussed President Obama’s strategy for the region. The Forum came to an end with a session devoted to good governance and a statement given by UN Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan, Robert Watkins.