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International conference on Afghanistan

International conference on Afghanistan

Published on July 20, 2010
Interview given by Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, to “RFI” (excerpts)

Kabul, July 19, 2010


Q. – This is nevertheless the umpteenth conference. There have been quite a number of them since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001: in Bonn, London, The Hague, Paris, a second one in London and now Kabul. Admittedly this one is significant, since we’re in Afghanistan, but when it comes to development we see that things are taking a long time to get set up. There are the security problems, but those of Afghanistan’s reconstruction and corruption too. From this point of view, aren’t we always repeating the same old story?

THE MINISTER – Development doesn’t happen overnight. Everyone has to take their destiny in hand. What’s important is that it’s the first meeting in Kabul. We’re putting our faith in an emerging peace process. We’re putting our faith in President Karzai who has convened the meeting of what’s called the Jirga, i.e. the country’s wise men. That takes time; it’s always challenging. Of course, there mustn’t be corruption. Our soldiers are fighting, we have commitments. In the region France is responsible for, the situation is improving. I’m not saying the task is finished; there are deaths; people are sacrificing their lives so that the poorest Afghan may have a future.

Q. – President Karzai is already in the process of initiating a dialogue with the Taliban, there was even talk of that in London at the last conference. Are we this time, once again, going to ask the international community to endorse this process of dialogue, of negotiations with the Taliban, including fairly high-level Taliban?

THE MINISTER – I don’t think I’ve heard that. He has proposed a path for peace, but he has spoken to the Afghans and said that this was beginning with an election in September. It will, I hope, be as transparent as possible.

Is there a solution other than one day making peace? I don’t know at all; we’ll see, but in any case there’s no military solution because there’s been war in Afghanistan for 20 years. The military solution must go hand in hand with a substantial increase in security for the Afghans. This is why the soldiers, and particularly the French soldiers, to whom I pay tribute, are essential. And with security will come confidence. You can’t separate the one from the other. These efforts must be pursued, but at the same time we mustn’t continue this war for ever. (…)./.

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