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Afghan democracy

December 27, 2009

German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg says democracy according to western ideals cannot be achieved in Afghanistan and that moderate Taliban members should be represented in the Afghan government.

German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg during a visit to Afghanistan
Germany's defense minister is willing to cooperate with some Taliban membersImage: picture-alliance/ dpa

Guttenberg told the Sunday mass-circulation newspaper Bild am Sonntag that Afghanistan's history and character have long convinced him that Afghanistan will never be a model western democracy.

Lasting peace in the war-ravaged country could only be achieved, he added, if moderate Taliban members were allowed to participate in Afghanistan's democracy.

"Because we are in a country with such regional diversity," Guttenberg told the paper, "we can't just leave out an entire ethnic group like the Pashtuns if we want sustainable solutions for the future."

Certain conditions would need to be fulfilled, however, and it would be unacceptable for the Afghan government to ignore universal human rights.

"We must ask ourselves who from the insurgents poses a serious threat to the international community and who is more concerned with the conditions in Afghanistan itself," he said. "This issue of human rights must also be taken into account, without ignoring the existing cultures and traditions in Afghanistan."

Guttenberg has in the past week indicated a willingness to engage in peace talks with non-terrorist Taliban members, marking a change in German policy.

Editor: Andreas Illmer

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