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Estonia and Afghanistan To Intensify All Forms of Co-operation


No. 344–E

Bilateral relations between Estonia and Afghanistan are becoming closer and more diverse all the time, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet acknowledged today during his meeting with Governor of Afghanistan’s Helmand Province Gulab Mangal.

Foreign Minister Urmas Paet stated that co-operation between Estonia and Afghanistan has for a long time already extended beyond military activity. “Afghanistan is Estonia’s bilateral development co-operation priority partner, and therefore our development aid and our efforts to stabilise the security situation are focused on Helmand Province. We wish to contribute to the health care and education sectors,” stated the foreign minister, confirming that Estonia will continue to co-ordinate health care matters in the UK-led Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Lashkar Gah. Paet said that Estonia would like for aid co-operation to develop into co-operation between the societies as soon as possible.

Governor Mangal said that Helmand Province has clearly progressed in its development during the past few years, although the situation remains complicated.

Paet emphasised that one factor that is necessary for developing Afghanistan’s society is the efforts of the Afghan government to integrate the nation and support domestic reconciliation. “In the reconciliation of society, it is important that reforms in the name of integration cannot take place at the expense of human rights, especially those of women,” stressed the Estonian foreign minister.

At their meeting, Paet and Mangal also discussed Afghanistan’s parliamentary election that took place in the fall and prerequisites for transferring responsibility for the security situation in different regions of Afghanistan. “Afghan President Karzai has said that the Afghan security forces will be ready to take on security responsibilities as of 2014. The fact that the elections went fairly smoothly in Helmand Province shows that the Afghan army and police are constantly developing the capability to keep the peace in Afghanistan,” said Paet. “From Estonia’s perspective, the most recent developments seem to suggest that in some regions of Afghanistan the transfer may gradually begin,” Paet noted.

Governor of Helmand Province Mangal will meet this week with members of Riigikogu and representatives of the foreign and defence ministries. He will also participate in the international conference “Women, Peace and Security—the Afghan View” taking place in Tallinn from 11-12 November.

Photos of Foreign Minister Urmas Paet’s meeting with Governor Mangal:

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