On 19th March the Trilateral Polish-Afghanistan-British Analytical Forum on Afghanistan was organised by the Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM), in cooperation with the UK Embassy in Poland and the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The forum was attended by representatives of administration, think tanks and media from Poland, Afghanistan and the UK. The meeting was opened by
Dr. Beata Wojna, Deputy Director of PISM, and HMA Robin Barnett, the British Ambassador to Poland.
The first panel dedicated to the regional dimension of Afghanistan stability focused on issues of Western and neighbouring countries’ engagement in security, reconstruction and development of the country. During the discussion, different points of view were presented, stressing on the one hand the controversial role of Pakistan for stabilization and destabilization of Afghanistan. All of the panellists indicated that both the tribal areas on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border play a key role in the conflict as well as the need for normalisation in the relations between Kabul and Islamabad. Other topics included the strategy of Iran towards Afghanistan, and the opportunities and challenges for economic cooperation between the regions of Central and South Asia. Another important point in discussion was about the roles of India, China and Russia in the context of the end of the ISAF mission and future economic development of Afghanistan.
Bogusław Winid, Undersecretary of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland, stressed in his speech that the challenges for 2014 in Afghanistan include negotiations between the Afghan government and the U.S. and NATO on the legal framework for future Alliance training missions, the upcoming presidential election, the need for strengthening national security and administration structures, as well as the need for economic reconstruction of Afghanistan and for normalising relations between neighbours.
The presidential elections of 2014 were also the most important issue for the second panel of the Trilateral Forum. It was stressed that the future of Afghanistan is first and foremost in the hands of the Afghans and the international community may assist them only on selected issues, and markers of success should not be limited only to military aspects. Panellists agreed that the presidential elections will be crucial for the further transformation of Afghanistan.
Participants in the third panel analysed the social and economic changes in Afghanistan since 2001. They agreed that the foundations of Afghan statehood and its administration have been set, but they need international support. They also stressed that Afghans have been exhausted by the various conflicts, which may work in favour of Afghanistan’s stability after 2014. Experts stressed also the need for further reforms in the agricultural sector and integration between the tribes around the border between two countires.