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Aid unpaid: EU reduces financial help to Afghanistan

Published time: November 13, 2012 10:02
Edited time: November 13, 2012 14:02
Afghans line up to receive winter supplies at a UNHCR distribution centre for needy refugees on the outskirts of Kabul (AFP Photo / Shah Marai)

Afghans line up to receive winter supplies at a UNHCR distribution centre for needy refugees on the outskirts of Kabul (AFP Photo / Shah Marai)

The EU has been forced to cut financial aid to Kabul, citing inefficiency and lack of progress in governance and justice system reforms in Afghanistan. The EU ambassador warned that future help will also depend on actual positive results obtained.

­The planned US$25 million aid meant to reform Afghan justice system has been postponed, the EU special representative and head of the mission in Afghanistan, Vygaudas Usackas, announced on Monday.

Nevertheless the EU gave the green light to a new financing agreement allocating $76 million on programs of efficient governance and “justice for all”. The agreement was signed by Afghanistan’s Finance Minister Omar Zakhiwal and Usackas, who made an important statement on the new rules of financing Afghan government.

Usackas voiced European Union’s concerns over lack of practical improvement in Afghanistan governance.

“If the European Union is deeply committed in supporting Afghanistan, it needs to stress that in the spirit of the Tokyo agreement, support will be increasingly conditional of the delivery of the Afghan government on the agreed reform agenda,” the EU ambassador said.

In July this year donor nations held a conference in Tokyo where they agreed to spend $16 billion through to 2015 to prevent Afghanistan sliding into chaos after the foreign troops’ pullout by the end of 2014. The final document signed by participants stressed that implementation of broad reforms holds the key to Afghanistan’s future well-being.

"An efficient administration, non-corrupted civil servants and a fair and balanced justice for every Afghan is the basis of a respected state," Usackas said.

Vygaudas Usackas (AFP Photo / John Thys)
Vygaudas Usackas (AFP Photo / John Thys)

The EU member states have been financing special programs aimed at improving the governance and justice systems of Afghanistan for years, having already spent on country’s development $1.5 billion over the last decade, he recalled.

The World Bank reported this year that aid makes up more than 95 per cent of Afghanistan's GDP. The budget of Afghanistan consists therefore mostly of the foreign aid. That explains fears that once the foreign troops withdraw from the country, the flow of financial aid would dry up, making the situation in the country unpredictable.

"That is the reason why the European Union is highly involved in those specific sectors,” Usackas explained.

The ambassador warned though that any pecuniary assistance to Afghanistan in the future will be conditional and depend of visible results of the reforms.

Afghanistan’s governance is notorious for its inefficiency and corruption. This fact is duly admitted by Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Speaking on CBS’s 60 Minutes program in September, the president admitted that corruption in his country has reached the level “not ever before seen in Afghanistan.”

Karzai partially shifted the blame for rampant corruption on the foreign occupation forces.

The president recalled that in the 1980s, during the Soviets rule in the country, the Afghan government was far less, “not even 5 percent as corrupt.”

Karzai pointed out that the Soviets did not practice nepotism, whereas the present occupation forces, Americans in the first place, are giving contracts to “the relatives, brothers and the kin of the influential and high ups,” Karzai said, while blaming the Afghans for corruption.

Today corruption and lack of justice not only complicates the life of the Afghan citizens, it also prevents foreign investors from entering Afghan business.

Ambassador Usackas appeased that the EU will not leave Afghanistan all alone against future threats and revealed that European Union is negotiating a long-term cooperation agreement with Kabul. The third round of talks on agreement covering next 10 years will be held in Brussels this week, he informed.

Whatever the talks in Brussels will come to, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been clearly given to understand that now it depends on Kabul’s efforts whether it will receive foreign assistance or not.

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