Struck reaffirms Afghanistancommitment

23rd September 2004, Comments 0 comments

23 September 2004 , BERLIN - German Defence Minister Peter Struck reaffirmed Thursday Berlin's military commitment in Afghanistan, saying the country will stay there even if other NATO members decide not to become involved. In a debate in parliament over the role of German military forces in international missions, Struck praised the work which German soldiers were performing in Afghanistan, citing the construction of schools and protecting civilians in the Hindukush region. Even if other NATO members rene

23 September 2004

BERLIN - German Defence Minister Peter Struck reaffirmed Thursday Berlin's military commitment in Afghanistan, saying the country will stay there even if other NATO members decide not to become involved.

In a debate in parliament over the role of German military forces in international missions, Struck praised the work which German soldiers were performing in Afghanistan, citing the construction of schools and protecting civilians in the Hindukush region.

Even if other NATO members renege on pledges to become engaged in Afghanistan, German forces will be staying, Struck said.

"If the others don't come, it doesn't mean that we will be returning home," he told parliament.

The debate comes a day after the Social Democrat-Greens cabinet agreed to seek a one-year extension of the mandate for German forces in Afghanistan. The current mandate expires 13 October.

Germany currently has 1,550 troops in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kabul, 270 in Kunduz and 300 in the neighbouring country Uzbekistan.

The total of 2,130 is short of the current parliamentary mandate for up to 2,250 soldiers.

Parliamentary debate on Thursday was to be a general overview of German participation in international peacekeeping missions, and comes after Struck's own admission on Wednesday of mistakes made by German forces in Kosovo during riots there last March.

Struck said there was poor communication between the NATO-led multinational force in Kosovo (KFOR) and United Nations police (UNMIK) during the rioting which left nearly 30 dead and hundreds injured, according to reports at the time.

A Bundeswehr report to the defence ministry acknowledged shortcomings by German forces during the outbreak of ethnic violence in the UN-administered province on 17 and 18 March.

Struck said that German soldiers had regarded the situation in Kosovo as routine and consequently may have dropped their guard. The German forces in Kosovo came under fire for their role when ethnic Albanians targeted Serbs and other minorities in two days of rioting and burning of homes, churches and other property.

Karl Lamers, a deputy of the opposition Christian Democratic Union, said during the parliamentary debate that in the wake of the Kosovo incidents Berlin must reappraise its military missions abroad.

He stressed that the question was "not whether, but rather how" German missions in crisis regions are performed. In northern Afghanistan, German forces need to to be beefed up and could not close their eyes to the drugs trade, Lamers said.

DPA

Subject: German news
 

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