Welcome news for Afghans in difficult times: Afghan President Hamid Karzai has signed a deal on long-term cooperation with Germany before heading to the US for a crucial NATO summit.
Afghans occasionally rave about Germany and the tradition of German-Afghan cooperation that goes back to the early 20th century, based on strong cultural and economic ties. German development aid in the health and education sectors is also well-respected.
Many Afghans welcomed the news that after India, France, Britain and the US, a strategic partnership agreement with Germany was signed on Wednesday in Berlin. Under the deal, Germany will give around $190 million in annual aid to help Afghanistan's security forces following the withdrawal of NATO-led troops in 2014.
Layloma, 20, is pleased the West has kept up an interest in her country. "I am very much in favor of lasting cooperation between Afghanistan and Germany," the student from Kabul told DW. "Germany is an important EU member state, and being partners with such a nation gives us Afghans great hope."
Feeling of security
Hope is what people in Afghanistan need most of all, Layloma said. "Many Afghans are worried that Afghanistan could fall back into the hands of the Taliban after the withdrawal of NATO's troops at the end of 2014," she said. The student said every accord with a leading country gives Afghans the feeling they can continue to rely on global support in the foreseeable future.
President Karzai met Chancellor Merkel last year at the International Afghanistan Conference in Bonn
Partnership with as many countries as possible might guarantee an increase in security, said Kabul resident Muhammad Baqir. "Germany has supported Afghanistan in the past and will continue to support the country. That can prevent Afghanistan from becoming the neighboring countries' pawn again," he said.
Breaking out of isolation
The Soviet troop withdrawal was followed by a devastating civil war in the 1990s, ended by the Taliban who ultimately led the country deeper into isolation.
But President Hamid Karsai's spokesman Emal Faizi said these times are irrevocably over. The partnership agreement with Berlin outlines cooperation over the next decade and shows the country will not be left alone with its problems, he said. "The agreement with Germany will open a new era of cooperation."
The Afghan government hopes for support in the education, economic and security sectors as well as support in strengthening Afghan government bodies, the spokesman said ahead of the visit. Kabul would also like to see German instructors remain in the country even after 2014.
Trust in Germany
But the Afghan government is cautious with its demands, said Faizullah Jalal, a political scientist at Kabul University. "President Hamid Karsai knows that every single accord with an important western country significantly increases the reputation of his government and the country worldwide - and within Afghanistan vis-à-vis the Taliban," Jalal told DW.
A deal with Germany is particularly advantageous, he added. "It will appease those who have always opposed a partnership between Kabul and Washington," Jalal said. "It might convince critics that cooperation with the world is for the benefit of Afghanistan because Germany, too, will be at the country's side."
Author: Ratbil Shamel / db
Editor: Rob Mudge