The Danish government and the Liberal Party, the Conservative People’s Party, the Danish People’s Party and the Liberal Alliance have adopted a two-year plan for the Danish engagement in Afghanistan 2013-2014.
The plan will cover the full range of the Danish engagement – including the political, military, police and development efforts - for the next two years. It will also outline the perspectives for the Danish engagement after 2014. The plan places great emphasis on Afghan ownership so responsibility in all areas – both formally and actually – is handed over to the Afghans.
Simultaneously, the Afghanistan Plan 2013-2014 clearly states that Denmark also after 2014 will continue to be present including by providing considerable development assistance to the country.
Foreign Minister Villy Søvndal says:
“I am very pleased that we have reached agreement on a strong and forward-looking plan with very broad support from Parliament. With the new agreement we have a concrete plan for the withdrawal of Danish combat units before the end of 2014 in return for an increased focus on the civilian efforts. The Danish Afghanistan Plan is closely coordinated with our close partners. The Danish Afghanistan Plan contributes to a responsible transition of the full responsibility to the Afghan authorities while at the same time enabling our soldiers to return home from Afghanistan. The next two years the task will be to support the Afghan authorities and the Afghan people in safeguarding and building upon the progress already achieved.”
The parties and government agree to continue the gradual reduction of the Danish military presence in Helmand concurrently with the transfer of responsibility to the Afghans, the requirements on ground, and the reduction of the NATO mission. The present Danish force contribution of about 650 persons is thus expected to be gradually reduced towards the end of 2014. Simultaneously, the adjustment from combat towards a training and support effort will be continued. By the end of 2014 the force contribution will solely consist of training and support effort.
Defense Minister Nick Hækkerup says:
“We are gradually reducing our presence over the course of the next two years and we are bringing back our combat troops in a way so that we can safeguard the results they have achieved in the best possible way – results which are highly respected. Furthermore, our efforts are about making sure that Afghans are able to handle their own security in the coming years. This does not mean that the task can be completed over the next two years. There will be a need for international support to Afghanistan for many years to come. But after 2014 the responsibility for Afghanistan’s security will lie with the Afghans. Thus, our role will - to a much greater extent - be to train, advice and support the Afghans.” In 2013-2014 Denmark will also assist in the further development of the Afghan police – both through the deployment of Danish police officials and with financial support. The Danish police contribution in Helmand will gradually be reduced and the emphasis will shift in favour of contributions at the national level among other things by contributions to the EU’s police mission.
The parties and government agree that the civilian efforts will gain importance and be a more central element of Denmark’s engagement in Afghanistan. Afghanistan will become the largest recipient of Danish development assistance with an average of 530 million DKK in aid per year in the period 2013-2017. Cooperation between the Afghan authorities and the international community should gradually become more normalized in the direction of a more traditional, long-term development cooperation where the Afghan authorities’ dependence on international support and assistance is gradually reduced.
Development Minister Christian Friis Bach says:
“With the increase in development assistance we are sending a signal of a long-term Danish partnership with Afghanistan in the critical years leading up to and after 2014. The new plan ensures that the sustainability and capacity building of Afghan institutions are at the heart of the Danish civilian efforts. At the same time the Afghan government will be held to account for their promises of tangible progress in areas such as the respect for human rights, elections and the fight against corruption. There will be consequences for our development assistance if the Afghans do not deliver on their commitments.”