Visit to Germany
Q. – A question on Afghanistan. Is there a difference or discrepancy in the timetable for withdrawal, since it seems that, at any rate on the German side, they are pretty keen to speed up the withdrawal, or at any rate start the process as soon as next year, whereas, on the French side, they seem to want to give a bit more time for this transition. Are these nuances or differences?
THE MINISTER – On Afghanistan, we certainly both want the country to be able to totally retake control of its affairs, on the security as well as governance levels, with both in fact being closely linked. This is because there will be an Afghan State which will be capable of guaranteeing, throughout its territory, the security of all its citizens and the presence of the State institutions in the sphere of justice and of everything to do with security. It’s because it will be a country whose economy isn’t founded on poppy cultivation and on drugs and which allows people to live where they are that we will actually have a guarantee, not simply for Afghanistan, but a guarantee for us all since, let’s not forget, Afghanistan is one of the places al-Qaeda uses as a base.
So we both want to have a robust Afghan State and moreover we’re doing everything [we can] and I want especially to pay tribute to Germany’s commitment for years on both the military and reconstruction fronts. When I was Defence Minister I had many opportunities of saluting this German commitment: I have particular memories of military doctors and also everything done, especially in the Kunduz region, allowing progress. This is the first point.
The second point on which we clearly agree is that we mustn’t send out signs of weakness, particularly to the Taliban, and this is indeed why there’s really no question of saying just like that: “we’re going to leave”. We will leave Afghanistan when the Afghan armed forces we are training, and the Afghan police Germany has contributed to training, are in a position of doing the job themselves. I think that on all those issues we indeed have no difficulty. (…)./.