During a flight from Kabul to Bonn, Germany, Afghan President Hamid Karzai reflects on efforts to reconstruct his war-torn country one year after the fall of the Taliban in an exlusive interview with DW-RADIO.
Hamid Karsai: Putting Afghanistan together with help from the international community
After months of criticism over tax increases and frayed relations with Washington, the German government finally got some praise on Sunday. The warm praise came from Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who departed Kabul on Sunday for Bonn, Germany, where delegates will present a progress report on the effort to rebuild Afghanistan one year after the first conference, which established an interim government for the civil war-torn country and installed Karzai as its official leader.
"This was a very nice decision by the German government to have a follow-up of the historic Bonn summit last year," Karzai said. "This provides an opportunity to refocus once again on Afghanistan to study what has been achieved and what has not been achieved and to recommend ways to further improve things in Afghanistan and, hopefully, also to help the Afghan people."
No additional funding expected
He may get less than he is hoping for. It's become clear in the past year that the $4.5 billion (4.53 billion euro) pledged over the next five years for the reconstruction effort will not be enough, but there are still no additional financial pledges expected in Bonn. Twenty-three years of civil war, a Russian occupation and years of Taliban rule have turned Afghanistan into a desert, and even after the fall of the Taliban, weapons are still being fired. And even Karzai is quick to concede that his government isn't yet strong enough to provide security for the country. But over time, Karzai hopes to be able to meet the challenges.
"The continuation of occasional fighting between some forces in Afghanistan, the weakness of the administration, the weakness of the capabilities of the administration, we have to strengthen that as well as the problem of the efficiency of the administration and a stronger reconstruction effort," he said. "The rest of it is going on all right. All of the targets we had in mind have been achieved with regard to setting up a constitution committee, a human rights committee, with regards to judicial reforms and civil reforms. These are the things we must do and I'm sure, God willing, that we will achieve the targets we have set for us by the end of this period."
Shifting his tune
In recent weeks, Karzai has requested an expansion of the mandate of the international security force ISAF in order to bring protection and law and order to parts of Afghanistan outside Kabul. But he knows he faces little support for his proposal. For that reason, he will be focusing in Bonn on building additional support for the country's massive reconstruction effort.
"Reconstruction also began, but not to the extent that will satisfy us in Afghanistan," he said. "The recent decision to rebuild Afghan highways is a major thing and that's our emphasis. I hope the effort to reconstruction of the country in the other areas will be sped up as a result of the Bonn conference."
Despite his plea for more desperately needed greenbacks, Karzai also took the opportunity to thank Germany and the other countries that have already provided considerable aid to Afghanistan.
"One must also acknowledge that the world community has helped us a lot and we are grateful for that," he said.