Good news at the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan

Good news at the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan

We’ve had two intense days of work here in Brussels at the international Conference on Afghanistan, after months of preparations. But all the effort we put into organising this event – together with the Afghan government, and with the participation of 75 countries and 26 international organisations – has led to a very positive outcome.  Some well deserved good news, in times when good news are like gold dust.

The most visible success is our collective commitment to invest 13,6 billion euros over the coming four years, to support growth, jobs and security in Afghanistan. In the last few months many told us that international support for Afghanistan would fall, and the conference would fail. The pledges instead have exceeded all expectations. And the European Union is the leading donor, with 5 billion euros. Here is my doorstep with journalists  as I arrived at the conference, and my opening speech.

This is a “new deal” for Afghanistan, a global one. Yet, this new deal also has a strong regional component. Last night, for the first time ever, I gathered ministers from the United States, China, India and Pakistan, with the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and our Afghan partners, to build up regional support for peace and reconciliation in the country.

A global and regional new deal can only succeed with strong support inside the country, a new deal inside the Afghan society. The national unity government of President Ashraf Ghani and chief executive Abdullah Abdullah has been a fundamental partner to make this conference a success. It is vital that cooperation continues, and the government engages in an even closer dialogue with all parts of the Afghan society. In the last two days we have hosted a huge number of civil society organisation, with a special focus on the role of women. Only if we look at them, can we grasp the real meaning of our work. If we look at three million Afghan girls, who never had the right to education and are now finally going to school. If we look at Kamia Yousufi, the 20-year old female sprinter who led the Afghan team at the Olympics in Rio. If we look at millions of Afghans who are working for a more just, safer and more prosperous country, a country finally in peace.

Here is the press conference with president Ghani at the end of the day.