On 2 November, Alain Juppé, Ministre d’Etat, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, will participate in the Istanbul Conference for Afghanistan. France wholeheartedly supports this conference, co-initiated by Turkey and Afghanistan.
A month before the Bonn Conference (5 December) on the transition process and the long-term engagement of the international community [in Afghanistan after 2014], the Istanbul Conference is intended to deepen cooperation between the region’s states. The Afghan and Turkish co-presidency has given it the title “Security and Cooperation at the heart of Asia”. This regional cooperation, in both its economic and security aspects, is essential and cannot be ignored when it comes to ensuring the long-term security and stability of Afghanistan and her neighbours.
France is in favour of a strong, regional, collective security system to combat the scourge of terrorism and establish concrete measures to build confidence between Afghanistan and her neighbours. Greater regional security will make it possible to contribute to the efforts of all those who are committed to Afghanistan’s security, stability and development.
Alain Juppé had discussed this conference with Zalmai Rassoul, his Afghan counterpart, at the Quai d’Orsay on 26 October 2011. In Istanbul he will reaffirm his support for the expectations Afghans have for their country’s guaranteed stability and security. He will put forward France’s position, calling for the Istanbul Conference to give a new boost to regional security and cooperation.
France is playing her full part in international efforts so that the goal of Afghanistan’s long-term stabilization and of the Afghans’ complete control over their nation’s destiny is achieved as swiftly as possible.
For several years now, France has been pressing the case for Afghanistan fully to regain her responsibilities and sovereignty and for the international community and all the region’s states to support her.
The Paris Conference in 2008, that of London (January 2010) then Kabul (July 2010) renewed relations between the international community and the Afghan authorities. Back in 2008, France championed stepping up regional cooperation by organizing the La Celle Saint-Cloud Conference.
As far as civilian aid is concerned, France is committed to many projects in the area of health (particularly the French medical institute for children and its extension), agriculture and rural development (in particular revitalizing the cotton industry and enhanced technical assistance for the Afghan Agriculture Ministry), education and the teaching of French (renovation of the Franco-Afghan lycées and the French cultural centre, transformed into an institut français), and governance and domestic security (supporting the Afghan parliament, training judges and police, backing the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission). Our total civilian aid to Afghanistan rose from about €10 million in 2007 to nearly €40 million in 2009 and 2010.
In summer 2010, France deployed a “stability team” tasked with monitoring governance and development projects in her area of responsibility, Kapisa and Surobi, where a large part of our civilian aid funds is concentrated. The aim of this team, which comes under the responsibility of the French military unit (Task Force La Fayette) and is run by a high-ranking civilian representative under the authority of the French Ambassador in Kabul, is to make our national effort more coherent and to act as an interface between ISAF’s civil-military branch, local Afghan authorities and the various development and governance players.
Consolidating security gains depends on establishing better Afghan governance. Despite some progress, efforts to deploy a competent local administration must continue. The increased power of the ANSF (Afghan National Security Force) has been confirmed, and a new programme to reintegrate combatants is starting to be implemented in the different provinces (Afghan Peace and Reintegration Programme). A High Peace Council has been established with the aim of overseeing the implementation of this programme and exploring the possibilities of negotiations with the armed opposition with a view to an inter-Afghan reconciliation process.
In order to guarantee all these actions in the long term, President Sarkozy and, recently, the Ministre d’Etat during his meeting with Zalmai Rassoul, the Afghan Foreign Minister, proposed a friendship and cooperation treaty between France and Afghanistan./.