President Ghani’s Visit to Europe: Achievements and Commitment of Aids

President Ghani had a six-day official trip to European countries and visited France, Germany, Italy and Sweden; and briefed the media about his achievements from this trip on Monday (7 December). The President, firstly, visited France and gave a speech at the Paris Climate Change Conference and met his French counterpart, there. He, then, visited Germany, Italy and Sweden and signed some agreements with those countries. The statement from the Presidential Palace called this trip a “fruitful” visit. The statement states:

“Last week, President Ashraf Ghani cemented long-term partnerships between Afghanistan and some 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.”

The government of Afghanistan claims that during the past year, it has worked hard to rebuild strategic partnerships that advance Afghan interests. Steps have included: 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.

Germany and the continuation of Aid to Afghanistan

In President Ghani’s visit to Germany, the government of this country promised that Germany will provide €250 million through Ministry of Development and €180 million 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.

Germany will contribute €25 million to Peace Program. It looks like this amount would be spent on creating jobs for those who leave insurgency and joins the reintegration process. 

Germany agreed to explore the possibility of creating investment guarantees to facilitate German private sector investment and to find ways to connect Afghan products to the port of Hamburg to establish a value chain for Afghan products. 

Italy and continuation of aid to Afghanistan

Another country that the President paid a visit to Europe was Italy. Italy, during the years after 2001, has provided Afghanistan with assistance in the areas of military, economy and capacity building especially related to the judiciary.

Italy will provide finance up to €65 million 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 €29 million to complete construction project of Herat International Airport.

Italy will provide finance up to €92 million for investment in Herat City-Chast e Sharif corridor/road and infrastructures 

Same as Germany, Italy has also pledged to facilitate investment by Italian businesses in Afghanistan, particularly in energy sector.

Italy and Afghanistan signed a cooperation agreement in the field of culture, science and technology. 

Achievements from the Visit to Sweden

Sweden was one of those countries that were providing assistance/aid to Afghan refugees in Pakistan even from the very beginning of jihad against Soviet Union. Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (SCA) was active in Peshawar at that time.  

In Ashraf Ghani’s visit to Sweden, both sides 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.

On this basis, Sweden agreed to continue its support through 2024 with a contribution of $1.2B.

Sweden agreed to explore state-supported and private-sector investment in renewable energy projects in Afghanistan. It also agreed to help provide vocational training to Afghans.

Meeting of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs in Brussels

The Afghan Minister of Foreign Affairs visited Brussels and attended NATO Foreign Ministers meeting after the end of official visit of the Afghan President on Tuesday, December 1, 2015. Representatives of Japan and South Korea, that are not considered as members of NATO but have part in the Resolute Support Mission, had also participated in this meeting, also.

In this meeting, the NATO Secretary General praised the capabilities of Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) in war and said that the Resolute Support Mission will be extended for another one year until the end of 2016. Meeting of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs in Brussels became agreed upon the following three points:

  • They agreed to sustain the presence of their Resolute Support Mission, including in the regions of Afghanistan, during 2016. This will be approximately 12,000 troops.
  • They started work to secure funding for Afghan national security forces until the end of 2020.
  • They agreed to further develop their Enduring Partnership with Afghanistan. In that respect, they also reaffirmed their commitment to establish a civilian-led presence that will follow after their Resolute Support Mission (2016).

Achievements of the Visit to Europe; from Commitment to Action

The President’s trip to Europe once again carried out commitments in order to receive help in the areas of development, security and economic, but the main question in this regard is that whether the present government of Afghanistan has the necessary capacity to get use of theses aids well?

If only financial aids could solve the problems of a country, Afghanistan, which received tens of billions of international aid during the past 14 years, should have much better situation than of today. The experience of the past 14 years showed that the lack of needed capacity to absorb aids reasoned widespread looting led by a few people and the majority of the people of Afghanistan did not get any benefit from them.

The main promise of President Ghani to the people, during the Presidential Elections, was that he will appoint trustworthy and professional individuals on governmental posts and that he will struggle against corruption seriously; however, in practice, the situation of NUG’s Cabinet is worse than it was in Hamid Karzai’s era. 

The commitment of NUG to fight corruption started with reviewing the Kabul Bank scandal; but this commitment went under question when one of the bank robbers came out of prison to sign a contract of a Smart City with the government.

Although, countries such as Germany, Italy and Sweden have pledged to help Afghanistan and President Ghani also considers it as a major achievement for himself and his government, but due to lack of capacity and widespread corruption that struggle against it by the NUG is summarized in words only, it seems unlikely that the committed countries would fulfill their commitments to Afghanistan; unless a basic and deep change in Afghanistan is not occurred in order for the committed countries to ensure that the funds gathered from taxes of their people will not waste as a result of war or corruption in Afghanistan as they were in past fourteen years.

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