Roundtable Discussion on the Future of Afghanistan Held in Budapest
Afghanistan After ISAF, 27 January 2012
Roundtable Discussion on the Future of Afghanistan Held in Budapest

On January 27, ICDT organized a roundtable discussion in Budapest, with the support of NATO’s Public Diplomacy Division, on the future of Afghanistan following the withdrawal of international forces. The aim of the event titled “Afghanistan After ISAF” was to bring together security sector, development aid experts and strategic planners from some of the partner countries with significant presence in Afghanistan along with NGO representatives and key figures from the country to a workshop that discusses a possible strategy for the post-2014 period in the international community’s activities.

The event was opened by Amb. István Gyarmati, President of the Center for Democracy Public Foundation. In his speech, Amb. Gyarmati emphasized the problem of not managing expectations and becoming victims of our own success. He stressed the importance of improved governance, a field where the international community has lost much of its credibility so far. Mr. Iván Bába, State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Hungary also welcomed the participants in a luncheon keynote speech.

In the analysis of the current situation of the region, H.E. Homayoun Tandar, Ambassador of Afghanistan to Belgium and Chief of the Afghan Mission to the EU talked about the current developments in the international relations of Afghanistan with a particular emphasis on the key players of the region. Amb. Tandar argued against the “AFPAK” approach of the Western countries, and called upon an individual approach for both states. Mr. Thomas Ruttig, Co-Director of the Afghanistan Analysts Network described Afghanistan as a country with a society split along multiple lines. He characterized the current governmental structure as a non-natural format created outside Afghanistan which most probably won’t be sustainable in its current frame. Ms. Laila Bokhari, a Research Fellow of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs analyzed Pakistan’s role in the region and in the conflict. She highlighted the importance of motivating both Pakistan and Afghanistan to tackle their own problems and the need for tansborder and bilateral initiatives.

The second panel of the event dealt with the strategy of NATO and the key contributing nations for the post-2014 period. Mr. Jonathan Hill, Deputy Head of NATO’s Afghanistan Section featured the transition process of security issues to the Afghan Security Forces. Mr. Hill also gave an introduction on the plans of NATO for the post-2014 period. H.E. Hikmet Çetin, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey and NATO’s Former Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan emphasized the need of a political reconciliation with the insurgents. He claimed that now was the best moment for the international community to launch a political process and warned about the possible unsustainability of the oversized military of Afghanistan, as a potential danger to security. Mr. Zoltán Nagy, Hungary’s Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan introduced the Hungarian position. He presented the major developments of NATO but warned about the international community’s responsibility to help create “a government worth fighting for”. He also suggested that the Alliance should deal with Pakistan on an enhanced level.

In the third panel titled “Afghanistan after the Transition (Inteqal)”, Prof. Nasrullah Stanekzai, Senior Legal Advisor to the President of Afghanistan presented the legal reforms and their obstacles in the country. Professor Stanekzai criticized the international community for paying most of its interest to physical security and forcing its own solutions to the country. He shared his belief that Afghan society will keep trusting the informal legal system, due to both the lack of capacity and corruption existing in the official sphere. Mr. Michael Semple, Former Deputy EU Special Representative for Afghanistan described the past 10 years as an “Alice in Wonderland” approach. According to Mr. Semple, the international community doesn’t know whom it should negotiate or ally with, and keep them as friends once it won their trust. He believes there is a much greater chance that following the transition of control the insurgency will expand to a broader civil war, and the chance to reach an agreement prior to 2014 is quite low. Mr. Semple criticized the community for not measuring the political and tactical possibilities of the Taliban and for declining the jihadists’ international presence in the conflict.

The closing panel addressed the strategy of the EU and the role of some key EAPC and partner countries. H.E. Vygaudas Ušackas, Special Representative and Head of the EU Delegation to Afghanistan emphasized the EU’s long-term commitment to support Afghanistan’s reform processes. Ambassador Ušackas suggested that the EU should increase its support after 2014 and concentrate on the reform of public administration. H.E. Niclas Trouvé, Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Sweden presented the transition process of Sweden as one of the best practices, and introduced the complex operating structure of the Swedish mission.

A number of acknowledged international experts, former and current high ranking officials of countries with presence in Afghanistan present at the roundtable discussion and shared their thoughts on the topics. The keynote speeches were followed by active and lively debates.

Media coverage of the event:
MTI: A szakértők szerint a nemzetközi közösség még nem érte el a célját Afganisztánban (in Hungarian)
Délmagyar Online: A nemzetközi közösség még nem érte el célját Afganisztánban (in Hungarian)
Galamus-Csoport: Szakértők: a nemzetközi közösség még nem érte el a célját Afganisztánban (in Hungarian)
HVG Online: Nem nyerte el a nemzetközi közösség az afgánok támogatását (in Hungarian)
Magyarország Online: Szakértők: A nemzetközi közösség még nem érte el a célját Afganisztánban (in Hungarian)

31 January 2012

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