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Wednesday, 15 December 2010 - Strasbourg OJ edition

A new strategy for Afghanistan (debate)

  Norbert Neuser, on behalf of the S&D Group.(DE) Madam President, Baroness Ashton, the European Union is involved in a number of missions in Afghanistan on the basis of United Nations resolutions. Too many young soldiers from Europe have lost their lives in Afghanistan. A large number have been seriously injured or are suffering from the mental stress caused by military service. Thousands of civilian aid workers from Europe risk their lives every day to help to bring about a better future in Afghanistan. All of them and all of us have a right to know how Europe’s commitment in Afghanistan can be bought to successful and lasting conclusion and how long we will continue to have a military presence in the country.

What needs to be changed or improved and what are the objectives of the new EU strategy for Afghanistan? We need to make greater efforts in the area of civil reconstruction. We must at last make progress with retraining the Afghan police force and judiciary. We know that there will not be a military solution and, therefore, we must increase our efforts to bring about a political solution to the conflict, by means of the EU and a common foreign policy.

We must show determination and push forward with the internal reconciliation process in Afghanistan and include moderate members of the Taliban. We need to put in place specific initiatives, in particular at a regional level, to stabilise the situation. This involves, in particular, effective means of combating drug cultivation and trafficking. Our strategy includes good proposals. We call on the Afghan Government to demonstrate that it has the will to introduce a better system of governance which is free from corruption.

However, the new EU strategy can only be successful if it no longer plays a passive role, but actively involves the neighbouring countries. Baroness Ashton, we are putting our hopes on you, we are relying on you and you have our full support.

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