JOINT DECLARATION BY THE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF SWEDEN, H.E. MR. CARL BILDT AND THE ACTING FOREIGN MINISTER OF THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF AFGHANISTAN, H.E. JAWED LUDIN IN KABUL ON 24 APRIL 2013
Friendship and Cooperation between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Kingdom of Sweden date back many decades. The strong relationship is based on a common vision of a sovereign, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan enjoying good neighborly relations in a stable region.
Over the past decade, Sweden has been a major provider of development and humanitarian assistance, amounting to approximately 150 million USD annually channeled bilaterally, through the European Union, and through multi-lateral organizations. Furthermore, Sweden has contributed to the strengthening of Afghan security and rule of law by participating in the UN-mandated ISAF mission, and in the European Union’s Police Mission EUPOL.
Time has now come to look towards the future. The forthcoming Cooperation Agreement on Partnership and Development (CAPD) between Afghanistan and the European Union will provide a long-term strategic framework for the relations between Afghanistan and Sweden. In addition, the two countries will continue to develop their bilateral cooperation. To this end, the two governments today:
· Agreed to initiate negotiations on a bilateral agreement on development cooperation, with the view to sign an agreement in the coming year. The agreement will be based on mutual respect, shared interests and a continued strong commitment to transparency and accountability in accordance with the framework of the Tokyo Declaration of July, 2012.
· Announced the intention of Afghanistan to establish an Embassy in Stockholm in the coming year.
· Agreed to further develop the political dialogue by intensifying the exchange of visits at various government levels and by encouraging parliamentary contacts.
· Reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen democracy, good governance and transparency, respect for human rights and the rule of law. Special attention should be given to the situation of women and the growing young population in Afghanistan.
The two countries stressed the importance of finding a political solution to the conflict in Afghanistan supported by the countries of the region and the wider international community. They reiterated their support for an Afghan-led, inclusive peace and reconciliation process guided by the principles of the Afghan Constitution.
Afghanistan and Sweden will continue to cooperate in strengthening Afghan security, ownership and leadership by completing the transition process by the end of 2014. Sweden will examine possibilities to contribute to future international efforts to train Afghan police and national security forces, should Afghanistan so request.
Afghanistan and Sweden will work together to build confidence in the region through the Heart of Asia process to which Sweden is a supporting country.
Afghanistan and Sweden underlined the importance of Afghan-owned, free, fair and inclusive elections to further consolidate democracy in Afghanistan. Strong and independent institutions, including the Independent Election Commission, a solid legal framework and robust security measures are necessary to ensure the success of future elections. Sweden stands ready to lend its support through advice and monitors, in coordination with the Afghan government, the European Union and the United Nations.