4 Statement on Afghanistan
by Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Nations participating in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)
The future of Afghanistan and the stability of the region are directly linked to the security of our own countries, our own citizens and the wider international community; Afghanistan must never again become a safe haven for terrorism. For this clear reason, and to contribute to a better future for the Afghan people, today we – the Foreign Ministers of the 43 countries participating, at the request of the Afghan government, in the UN-mandated NATO-led ISAF operation – reconfirm the commitment of ISAF nations to help build lasting security and stability in Afghanistan, which remains the Alliance’s key priority.
We recognise the urgency of the challenge and we welcome the opportunity to work with the new Afghan government. We will therefore accelerate our efforts in support of the Afghan people and government. Our goal is to help Afghans to take over full responsibility and ownership as soon as possible for the security of their own country. Increasing Afghanistan’s lead role across the board remains our primary objective.
The past months have been particularly challenging. Afghan and ISAF forces alike, have suffered significant numbers of casualties. The Afghan people have also suffered great loss. We pay tribute to every sacrifice made and extend our condolences.
We remain convinced that this mission is essential, and that our overall strategy, agreed at the Bucharest Summit, is the right one. To implement our strategy as effectively as possible and in the light of changing circumstances on the ground, we have agreed to make changes to our approach as set out below. As part of this, the ISAF operation will have, as a priority, the protection of the Afghan people, building Afghan security capacity and facilitating governance and development.
The transition to Afghan lead on security is an objective we share with the Afghan government. We will urgently step up our efforts to empower the Afghan authorities and help them take over further security responsibilities. The transfer of lead security responsibility in Kabul was a first step and further transfers will happen as conditions across the country allow. We are therefore investing more in training, equipping and sustaining the Afghan National Security Forces, through the NATO Training Mission, to build Afghan capacity. Our mission will be accomplished when Afghan forces can secure their own country; the Training Mission and donations to the Afghan National Army Trust Fund will help bring that day closer.
We endorse the underlying thrust of the assessment made by General McChrystal in August on how best to deliver our strategy in Afghanistan. We strongly welcome President Obama’s announcement that the United States will provide substantial additional troops and resources for this purpose. We also welcome the additional contributions announced recently and the fact that many other ISAF nations are, or will be increasing their military and civilian contributions in Afghanistan. All this reflects our determination and commitment to provide the resources essential for the success of the ISAF mission.
Military forces alone, however, are not sufficient to ensure success. Security, governance and development must go hand in hand and require ever greater efforts to deliver a comprehensive approach under UNAMA leadership. We continue to support UNAMA in this regard. Strong action from the United Nations, the European Union, and many other organisations is absolutely essential to a successful international civilian effort. We, as nations, recognise the need to provide additional civilian resources and to help develop the Afghan government’s capacity to govern at the national, provincial and district levels, to provide basic services and spur economic development. In support of the last point, NATO and ISAF should seek to maximise, to the extent possible, the positive economic impact of their presence in Afghanistan.
We welcome the goals set out by President Karzai in his inaugural speech. We share his emphasis on improving governance, fighting corruption, working towards reintegration and reconciliation, strengthening the rule of law, protecting human rights, expanding regional cooperation, and laying out a goal for Afghanistan to have the lead in security operations. We agree that the implementation of these commitments will be central to making progress. We encourage the new government to deliver rapid and tangible results in this regard.
We have agreed to support the Afghan authorities on reintegration issues and stand ready to contribute to a process of reconciliation. Both these processes must be Afghan-led and owned.
We look forward to a sequence of conferences bringing together the Afghan government and the international community. These conferences should contribute to enhanced efforts in Afghanistan, set clear, viable and realistic benchmarks for progress and underscore the long-term commitment from the international community to help build security and stability in the country, to the benefit of us all.
We reiterate the need for all of Afghanistan’s neighbours to support the international efforts in the country, which are also in their security interests. Enhancing political dialogue and deepening our cooperation with Pakistan, in particular, will be a priority. We welcome existing efforts that contribute to regional cooperation in this regard.
We, the nations participating in ISAF, will continue to work closely together on all matters related to the mission, its ongoing adaptation to the evolving situation on the ground and its relationship with the wider international effort in Afghanistan.