Paris, November 16, 2011
The policy we’re conducting in Afghanistan is coherent. It has converging goals.
The first goal is what’s called the transition: that is, the gradual withdrawal of our troops and the transfer to the Afghan army – which we’ve trained ourselves – of responsibility for ensuring security. This process is under way: 400 troops have already returned to France.
Surobi should be on the list of regions shortly transferred, which will enable us to achieve the aim of 1,000 troops set by President Sarkozy, and the force as a whole will be withdrawn before 2014. Some people are pressing us to go faster; I think we must stay calm and not give in to panic.
The second goal is to support the Afghan authorities in the policy of reconciliation.
And finally, the third goal is to prepare the post-2014 period.
On the bilateral level, President Sarkozy proposed a cooperation treaty to President Karzai during his last visit to Kabul. I passed this draft treaty on to the Afghan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Rassoul, whom I met myself on 26 October. He’s proposing, over a long period, cooperation on defence and security, infrastructure development, agriculture and the mining sector, education, culture and health, with a concrete five-year action programme.
We’re also taking action multilaterally. At the Istanbul conference, France proposed a collective security system to Afghanistan’s neighbours. This process, now known as the Istanbul Process, has been launched.
And on 2 December in Bonn, the European Union, too, will propose to Afghanistan a comprehensive cooperation agreement to support her reconstruction. The situation clearly remains very difficult.
I’d like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the memory of the legionnaire Goran Franjkovic, who was fatally wounded in Kapisa on 14 November. I think our soldiers, who are skilfully and bravely fulfilling the mission entrusted to them by the Head of State and the government, deserve the whole nation’s admiration and support./.