Italy “strongly believes in Afghanistan’s future […], a country where democracy is gaining ground, and strength. The next decade will be most important”. These were the words of Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi at the end of his meeting at the Farnesina with his Afghan colleague, Zalmai Rassoul.
“Work-in-progress that will bear fruit over the next ten years”, says Terzi
Terzi pointed out that in the last decade Afghanistan’s development has been “impressive”. Seven million Afghan children now attend school, compared with 900,000 under the Taliban, noted the minister. 30% of the Members of Parliament are women, healthcare provision is more widespread, the campaign against corruption is under way and, on the security front, “75% of the country is under satisfactory control”, continued Terzi. “We are speaking about a work-in-progress that will bear fruit over the next ten years”.
After the transition – the Italian presence
Terzi reiterated that the Italian presence after the end of the transition period will be reduced and will mainly encompass training. The Italians “will no longer provide operational support” to Afghan military personnel. They will deal mainly with “training, along with a logistics element”, he added, “and their numbers will be decided through consultation with the Afghans and with ISAF”.
Partnership and cooperation agreement
Rassoul, for his part, thanked Italy for its constant and on-going support for Afghanistan since the end of the war. He also mentioned the partnership and cooperation agreement signed with Rome, to build up and strengthen the Afghan institutions and economy. Turning to negotiations with the Taliban, Rassoul pointed out that the government “welcomes the talks, but the ‘red lines’ must be respect for the constitution and for human rights”.