President Ashraf Ghani, CEO Abdullah Abdullah and the German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Sunday celebrated 100-years of Afghan-German relations at an official function at the Presidential Palace in Kabul.
In addition to Ghani, Abdullah and Steinmeier, other high ranking government officials and dignitaries attended the event.
Addressing the guests, Ghani hailed the milestone as a “historical relationship” that has over the years brought with it untold success – especially in the education arena.
“Today more than 100,000 Afghan refugees, who live in this country [Germany] have been able to get a higher education,” Ghani said.
Steinmeier, who is currently on an official visit to Kabul, said his trip has come during a “difficult transitional phase” in the country, with the security situation remaining tense. However, he urged government to continue with their peace talks efforts with the Taliban.
“The peace process in Afghanistan and better ties with neighboring Pakistan are necessary, so that people in Afghanistan are given hope for a better life after many years of suffering”, Steinmeier said at a joint press conference with Ghani.
He said Germany stands by Afghanistan in its efforts to secure the country and move forward. However, he touched on the issue of the 55 Germany soldiers who have lost their lives in Afghanistan, in the past few years, while working towards securing the country.
Steinmeier says the support Germany gives to Afghanistan is with the aim of helping the country stand on its own feet. In line with this, he pledged further German support and aid to Afghanistan.
He said in conclusion that Germany hopes close relations with Afghanistan will continue for another hundred years.
After the ceremony, Steinmeier met with his Afghan counterpart, Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani, and with Abdullah where he discussed future cooperation between the two countries.
After the meeting, Rabbani said that they had discussed the Afghan refugee situation and cooperation over this matter.
“Germany has an important role in Afghanistan’s education system,” Rabbani said. “Germany stands with Afghanistan with their honest cooperation” he said adding that both countries have enjoyed a friendly relationship over the past 100 years.
“Afghanistan’s first electricity producing dam, printing house and telegraph system were all established by Germany,” he said.
He says that Germany is one of Afghanistan’s biggest allies and previously had thousands of troops in the country fighting insurgency.
However, since the drawdown of troops at the end of last year Germany now has only about 850 in Afghanistan – most of whom are based in the northern parts of the country under NATO-led Resolute Support Mission.