Situation in Afghanistan - Reply by Mme Michèle Alliot-Marie, Minister of Defence, to a question in the National Assembly
Yesterday in Bayonne, tribute was paid on the nation’s behalf to Adjutant Joël Gazeau and Senior Corporal David Poulain, both killed last week in Afghanistan. I conveyed to their families and all the soldiers present the gratitude of all the nation’s elected representatives.
On the security situation in Afghanistan the picture is mixed : the whole country is more or less calm, although in the south-east and Kabul there are suicide bombings, explosions from remote-controlled mines and the coalition forces are suffering harassment.
On the political front, the government and Parliament are in place and working, but the battle against drugs is causing upheavals in the country. We know that a large part of the money from drugs is sustaining the terrorist networks.
Afghanistan has great need of economic and social development. No stabilization will be possible without it. Finally, we must look at the psychological situation : a long-term military presence is difficult for any nation to accept.
Faced with this, our first concern is to strengthen the capacity of Afghan security forces. To do this, France has begun training the Afghan army, especially officers. We also want the international community to step up its action, particularly so that there are real replacement crops for poppies, so that there is genuine economic and social development, development of education and health. We have to mobilize the international community on these points in order to move forward.
If we do this our soldiers’ sacrifices won’t have been in vain. Because in Afghanistan, as elsewhere, maintaining peace, freedom, justice and security is exacting a heavy toll on our soldiers. I think you will all agree on us expressing here our gratitude and our support./.