Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan: Solidarity and Expectations
Enlarge image Participants in the Afghanistan Conference in Tokyo (© photothek / Th. Koehler)
At the Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan held on July 8, the international community agreed on parameters for its civilian engagement in the country over the years ahead. The conference was “an important milestone towards a good and viable future for Afghanistan,” Foreign Minister Westerwelle noted at the end of the conference. The international community would support the country’s civilian development efforts even after the international combat forces deployed there had been withdrawn.
Over the next four years up to 2015 the international community has pledged US$ 16 billion to support Afghanistan’s civilian development efforts; Germany’s contribution will amount to 430 million euros a year.
What was agreed in Tokyo was not a unilateral but a “mutual commitment,” Westerwelle pointed out. “There aren’t going to be any blank checks,” he explained. “We’re ready to help, but we expect tangible results in return.” In practical terms that meant Germany would make funding available only if there was verifiable progress on good governance and the fight against corruption.
Enlarge image “We’re ready to help, but we expect tangible results in return.” (© photothek/Th. Köhler) The one-day Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan was planned as the civilian complement to the meeting on Afghanistan at the Chicago Summit in May, at which NATO heads of state and government pledged to continue providing training, advice, support and financial assistance for the Afghan National Security Forces in the period beyond 2014. The aim of the Tokyo conference was to establish parameters for continued international civilian assistance for Afghanistan, building on the outcome of the International Afghanistan Conference in Bonn in December 2011, at which firm mutual commitments were agreed.
In line with these firm mutual commitments, Afghanistan and the international community reached agreement in Tokyo on the so-called Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework. The international community’s ability to sustain support for Afghanistan depends upon the Afghan Government delivering on its commitments
The Afghan Government has committed to make concrete progress, as measured by 16 verifiable indicators, in tackling corruption and narcotics, for example. The indicators include measures such as strengthened banking supervision and increased tax and customs revenue.
In the area of democracy-building, it was agreed to conduct credible and transparent presidential and parliamentary elections in 2014 and 2015 in accordance with the Afghan constitution. In this connection an election roadmap is to be submitted by 2013.
A three-stage process to monitor progress is envisaged:
- regular meetings of experts in Kabul will monitor progress throughout the country in a timely manner;
- from 2013 onwards international meetings of senior officials will be held every two years to review progress;
- from 2014 on international ministerial-level meetings will be held every two years.
Enlarge image Foreign Minister Westerwelle in discussion with Afghan President Karzai (© photothek / Th. Koehler ) In Tokyo Westerwelle once again reaffirmed the timetable for the withdrawal of international combat troops. “We believe a political solution is needed,” he explained. “That’s why we’ll have completed the withdrawal of our combat troops – as internationally agreed – by 2014.”
That was the reason it was so crucial for the planned handover of responsibility of security to be given the necessary support and for Afghanistan to see where it was heading post-2014. “Only if Afghanistan knows it won’t be forgotten will Afghans be able to look forward to a good and viable future for their country,” Westerwelle noted.
Several meetings on the conference fringes
During his stay in Tokyo Foreign Minister Westerwelle also had a number of bilateral meetings. On July 7 he met his Japanese counterpart Koichiro Gemba; he also had talks with President Karzai of Afghanistan and Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khar.
As with the Afghanistan conference in Bonn, the German Government believes it was important for the voice of Afghan civil society to be heard in Tokyo. Together with Federal Development Cooperation Minister Dirk Niebel, who attended the Tokyo conference as well, Foreign Minister Westerwelle also had a meeting on July 7 with representatives of Afghanistan’s civil society.