The crisis which began when the Taliban took power and al-Qaida gained a foothold in Afghanistan is continuing. It now threatens to spread to Pakistan, with terrorist safe havens which are expanding dangerously. After contributing for a long time to Afghanistan’s instability, these safe havens, due to their expansion and that of the other Pakistani terrorist networks, now threaten Pakistan’s very stability. The Afghan crisis and Pakistani instability now form one and the same problem. The persistence of this situation is fraught with threats to international security. Our priority is to prevent the re-establishment of a radical regime in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s destabilization and reduce the terrorist threat of which the region has become the epicentre.
Because of the strategic importance of this crisis for French interests I have decided that France would commit to a strong presence in that part of the world, and retain it as long as necessary, alongside the international community and Afghan civil society, whose role is essential. We shall work collectively in Afghanistan to create the conditions whereby that country can regain its stability, ensure its economic and social development and live in peace with its neighbours. These objectives required the removal of the Talibans’ oppressive regime and establishment of a democracy taking account of Afghan specificities.
Today a first appraisal of this effort can be made. Thanks to the international organizations’ involvement, under United Nations mandate, the Afghan people have achieved substantial progress in every sphere: free elections have been held for the election of a parliament and a president; schools have been opened, including for girls, whom the Taliban had excluded from them; hospitals and roads attest the determination to allow the country to put three decades of war behind it and at last experience the development it deserves.
France has been fully involved in this through the action of her soldiers alongside her allies and the Afghan forces, and through a contribution to the country’s reconstruction, both at national level, which – despite the recent increase – nevertheless remains modest compared with the massive effort of our major European partners, and in the European Union and United Nations frameworks. It was our country which, on 12 June last year, organized the International Conference in Support of Afghanistan, which pledged some $20 billion of aid for the next few years.
In 2008, taking note of the progress achieved, the Bucharest NATO summit defined, at France’s request, the strategy which will lead to the Afghan people regaining, as fast as possible, total control of their destiny. The progressive transfer of responsibility for Kabul and its region to the Afghan authorities is a first step. Others are scheduled to follow. This process requires accelerating the strengthening of the Afghan armed forces and police, to which our country is contributing, although too modestly in the case of the police; it goes hand in hand with pursuing the policy of reconciliation initiated by the Afghan government; finally, it is consistent with a regional context very much affected by Afghanistan’s relations with neighbouring Pakistan.
France was among the first to underline the importance of the regional factor by inviting Afghanistan, her neighbours and key international community partners in December to a first meeting devoted to this dimension. Quite obviously, developments in the Pakistan situation have to be followed very carefully. They are crucial to the future of this country, itself of huge strategic importance for the stability of both Afghanistan and the entire region.
I consider, M. Lellouche, that your knowledge of these countries and politico-military issues naturally qualify you to bolster France’s role in defining and implementing the international commitment. Consistency and determination on the part of all the players is imperative.
I have therefore decided to entrust you with the mission of France’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. You will be drawing on the resources which all the ministries involved, including the Ministries of Foreign and European Affairs, Defence, the Economy, Industry and Employment, and the Interior, Overseas France and Local Authorities, will make available to you. You will propose to me all the initiatives you deem useful for our interests so that the decisions may be taken in the appropriate framework.
You will participate, on the subjects mentioned in this letter, in the discussions with our allies and partners (in particular the British, Germans and Americans who have themselves just appointed special envoys). Liaising closely with our ambassadors, you will develop contacts with the Afghan and Pakistani authorities.
You will report to me, and to the Prime Minister, through the Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, under whose authority you will be working. A unit bringing together the resources the various departments are to make available to you will be set up at the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs to assist you./.