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>> Pajhwok Afghan News


Pajhwok Afghan News - 8 September 2005 Describing the September 18 legislative elections as a step toward bringing democracy to the war-ravaged country, European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy Benita Ferrero-Waldner hoped the EC and other donors would not withdraw their support from Afghanistan. In an exclusive interview with Pajhwok Afghan News, the European Commissioner said the goal of democracy can not be achieved overnight. It will require time and the Afghans would learn how to run the parliament and pass laws. Here are the excerpts: What is the purpose of your visit to Afghanistan? A: Afghanistan is moving toward the landmark parliamentary polls, which is an important step for bringing democracy to the war-ravaged country. I am responsible for sending European Commission election observers to Afghanistan. The team will be headed by Emma Bonino, while I will extend support to the delegation. After successful legislative polls the Bonn Agreement will come to an end and I came to talk about issues that would be needed after completion of Bonn Agreement. Will you continue assistance for Afghanistan? Our assistance will be based on EC future budget. Both Afghanistan and the European Union should show more responsibility. Q: In which fields does the EC support Afghanistan? A: We have constructed 120 clinics where treatment facilities have been extended to about 4000 people in one year. Besides renovation of over 60 schools, 80 million square metres of land has been cleared of anti-personnel mines since 2001. We have also provided assistance for construction of the Kabul-Jalalabad road. We have provided funds to NGOs for giving training to street children in skills like tailoring, painting etc. There are about 9,000 street children in Ashiana, while officials put the number at 38,000. We are the leading contributors of the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) besides helping the government in giving salaries of Afghan police. We are also trying to strengthen the civil society and support democratic process in the country. We are also supporting press freedom and plan to launch a magazine. What is the main purpose behind your trip to Kunduz? I want to meet Austrian forces working in the Provincial Reconstruction Team there. Besides we are funding several projects in Kunduz and I will visit those projects as well. I will visit the JEMB regional office and also meet women candidates in Kunduz. Women have been extended 25 per cent representation in the next set up and they should recognize themselves as an important organ of the society. What do you think about the country's next parliament? This will prove a step toward democracy. Afghan people will come to know how to elect their representatives. Apart from the common citizens, members of the parliament will also know how to work together and approve a law with majority votes. Do you think donors will continue their support for Afghanistan? Donors will not stop their support at once. It will be a gradual process as they want to see a stable government, elimination of poppy and an end to corruption. Rule of law and supremacy of judiciary should be ensured after the parliamentary elections.

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