“Our priority is to launch a new process of economic development that begins with the Afghan people, their traditional know-how and their natural resources”. In order to make this happen, in the province of Herat, Italy “is encouraging participation, which is essential to rebuilding the social and economic fabric”, through “a cooperation model based on inclusive dialogue with the society and institutions”, Minister Frattini explained at the international conference on investments in Afghanistan in Dubai.
Speaking to an audience of regional political and Afghan government authorities, the minister illustrated the initiatives launched at Herat by Italian businesses with Afghan partners, which are “yielding encouraging results”, particularly in the sectors of marble, farming and foodstuffs, saffron and nuts, considered “the most important and lucrative alternatives to the production of opium”. But “various challenges” remain, Frattini stressed, and investments are needed in infrastructure, good governance and a just legal foundation. “That is why Italy is also sustaining the modernisation of the Afghan justice system”.
Possible also is cooperation between Italy and the Arab Emirates in Afghanistan. “I believe that opportunities are growing”, the minister explained, “in sectors such as road and rail construction. We could think, for example, of upgrading the Herat airport, where there is potential interest also on the part of the Emirates”.
In the Gulf Region, where Frattini is currently completing a tour that, after Qatar and the Emirates, will take him to Bahrain and Kuwait, “Afghanistan will remain a priority until the stabilisation process is rendered irreversible in terms of security, institutions and economy. Until then”, the minister concluded, “the countries of this region feel heavily committed, and consider the regional dimension the right one to concentrate on for Afghanistan”.
For his part, Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul assured possible investors regarding the government’s anti-corruption efforts and international activities to improve security conditions. “International investors should know that not only will their investments yield returns, but that they will be creating jobs and relaunching the local economy and participating in the reconstruction of my country”, was Rassoul’s encouragement. As for Italy, Frattini reported that the Afghan government was interested in investments by ENI in the energy sector.