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Estonia Supporting Reconstruction of Afghanistan to Prepare Country for Transfer of Security Responsibility

16.01.2013

No 13-E

Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said that in order to prepare for the complete transfer of responsibility for security to the Afghan authorities, Estonia will increase its support for Afghanistan this year.

According to Foreign Minister Urmas Paet, Afghanistan is one of the most important partners for Estonia’s development co-operation and a civil contribution is just as important as the military activity used to guarantee security. All these measures will help Afghanistan reach the phase where the country can finally manage on its own and will no longer be as dependent on international aid. “We can make the most effective possible contribution for the building up of this country through the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund,” said the foreign minister. Estonia will contribute 450 000 to the fund.

Various sectors throughout Afghanistan are financed by the fund, including Estonia’s development co-operation priorities: health care and education. “For example, over 800 new schools have been opened and 45 000 teachers trained with the support of the trust fund. Over 3 000 kilometers of roads in rural areas have been reconstructed and great emphasis has been placed on renovating the country’s energy supply systems,” said Foreign Minister Paet, listing examples of the fund’s activities in Afghanistan. “Through the fund, contributions are made directly to the development of the health care sector in Helmand Province, which is a priority for Estonia,” he added.

The foreign minister said that in addition to supporting the international Reconstruction Trust Fund, Estonia’s three biggest projects in Afghanistan will also continue: Tallinn University’s project to develop an IT master’s programme at Kabul University, the Estonian School of Diplomacy’s project to train Afghan diplomats in Tallinn, and the NPO Mondo’s project that aims to carry out various training session in rural areas of Afghanistan. According to Foreign Minister Paet, Estonia would also like to send an Estonian civil expert to Great Britain’s Department of International Development (DFID) team in Kabul this year. This year Estonia will also continue contributing to the NATO Training Mission (NTM-A) and EU Police Mission (EUPOL) with the current four civil experts each.

At the Kabul conference that took place in July 2010, Estonia and other international donors accepted the obligation to direct at least 50% of the development aid allocated for Afghanistan through the federal government of Afghanistan by the year 2012. Other donors agree that in order to accomplish this, the best thing to do at the moment is to utilise the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), since it offers the strongest guarantee that donated money will be used for the intended purpose.  The ARTF is a fund managed by the World Bank and has been the largest contributor to the budget of Afghanistan for both operational expenses and investments.

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