Foreign Minister Urmas Paet in Kabul: Estonia’s Support for Afghanistan Will Continue After Allied Forces Have Left


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When meeting with Foreign Minister of Afghanistan Zalmai Rassoul today, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said that a military contribution in Afghanistan as well as supporting society through civil and development co-operation have been part of Estonia’s long-term goal of helping Afghanistan on the path to development. “Estonia’s support in the form of civilian projects will continue in Afghanistan even after most of the international security forces have been pulled out,” Paet noted.

“It is in Estonia’s interests that the Afghan state and its government be strong, trustworthy, and in complete control of its territory as well as capable of taking full responsibility for ensuring security and overseeing life in the state,” said Paet. The foreign minister added that the efforts of the Afghan government to integrate the country and to achieve domestic reconciliation play an essential role in developing Afghanistan’s society.

According to Foreign Minister Urmas Paet, Foreign Minister Rassoul confirmed during their meeting that the process of handing over responsibility for security in Afghanistan is going according to plan and as of the summer of 2013 the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) will be leading combat operations across the whole country. “This development is necessary in order for allied forces to be reduced. Estonia has also made its plan for reducing its military contribution in Afghanistan,” said Paet.

The foreign minister noted that Estonian military units will be leaving Afghanistan in 2014 in accordance with the schedule worked out by the allies. “In 2014 the most important activity in Afghanistan will be ensuring security so that elections can be successfully carried out. The 2014 elections are the touchstone of Afghanistan’s democratic development,” Paet stated. The international community will continue to support Afghan institutions in preparing for and carrying out the elections. “Estonia is prepared to share responsibility with its allies in supporting the elections. We hope that the elections will be free and fair and that the rate of participation will be as high as possible,” Paet added.

In talking about the international community’s support for Afghanistan after 2014, Foreign Minister Paet said that Estonia is prepared to contribute to NATO’s new training mission in Afghanistan Resolute Support with a special operations forces (SOF) unit and up to ten staff officers. “From 2015-2017 we are prepared to support the Afghan security forces with at least 500 000 US dollars per year,” said Paet. 

The Estonian foreign minister also confirmed that Afghanistan remains a priority partner for Estonia’s development co-operation. “This year Estonia will increase its development co-operation resources and support the country with 1.4 million euros. We will focus on the sectors of education, health care, and good governance,” said Paet. We will also continue participating in the NATO Training Mission and EU Police Mission until 2014.

Tomorrow the minister’s visit will continue in southern Afghanistan, where he will visit Estonian soldiers at Camp Bastion and meet with the commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in the south-western zone. Paet will also visit the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand Province, and meet with the head of Task Force Helmand.

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