EU-Nato coordination key to advancing Afghan transition

Europe has a key role in facilitating Afghanistan's journey towards being 'a fully functioning state', says Petras Auštrevičius.

By Petras Auštrevicius

07 Apr 2015

Following the ousting of the Taliban, Afghanistan has made tangible achievements in terms of political and security, particularly in areas such as education, health, and information technology.

Seven million people took to the polls in the country's first democratic elections and Afghanistan's new political institutions are taking root, headed by the newly elected president Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and chief executive officer Abdullah Abdullah.

"Given the security challenges that lay ahead for Afghanistan, it is essential that the EU and member states coordinate their strategies"

This could not have been achieved without a change in people's thinking and development of a new generation civil society actively participating in the country's reform process which has reached out and engaged more and more citizens.

After the completion of the international security assistance force (ISAF), Afghanistan has entered a so called 'transformation decade' (2015-2024) which will determine the country's future. The conflict afflicted state still needs to fight grave security and economic challenges; in particular the drugs based economy and intensified insurgency.

In order for these obstacles to be overcome and for progress to continue the government needs to carry out substantial institutional reforms. Therefore, the international community will still continue providing unprecedented levels of assistance to Afghanistan to enable it to become a fully functioning state and this year will commit billions of euros.

When it comes to the EU's role, its engagement during 2015 and 2016 will focus on technical and financial support for the government and providing incentives for Afghanistan to develop its institutions and rule of law, as well as fighting corruption and the narcotics economy. The EU's focus will remain on the economy and security.

As far as the economy is concerned, Afghanistan needs to be assisted in establishing a transparent and resilient public financial management which cannot be achieved without addressing the endemic corruption.

Despite corruption remaining a persistent challenge, some positive developments can be observed. President Ghani has implemented all the recommendations of the anti-corruption report produced by the European parliament and the European Union police mission in Afghanistan (EUPOL) is organising anti-corruption courses as part of its ground operation.

However, there can be no economic and institutional development without security. In this regard Nato and the EU play a very important role in advising national security forces and institutions.

The EUPOL mission entails three main strands. First, it aims to conduct institutional reform of the ministry of the interior and expand its capacity for long-term planning and managing international support.

Second, it focuses on professionalisation of the Afghan national police in order to make it more efficient. Special attention is given to professional standards, criminal investigation and recruiting female police officers.

Third, EUPOL seeks to interlink police and justice reform or in other words promote interaction between police officers and prosecutors in criminal investigations.

Taking all this into account and given the security challenges that lay ahead, it is essential that the EU and member states coordinate their strategies and work with institutions such as Nato to address areas key to Afghanistan's success. It is also critical that Afghans have ownership of the transition and peace process on their journey to self-sustainability.