By Azizullah Rasoully, Chargé d’Affaires ad interim, Embassy of Afghanistan in the Netherlands.
Let me briefly sketch some topics regarding the Dutch-Afghan relationships. There lives a community of about 40,000 Afghans in The Netherlands, mostly with a refugee background, and The Netherlands and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan maintain good relations. Since late 2001, The Netherlands support my country with financial and military resources in its stabilization, democratization and reconstruction, with an emphasis on diplomacy, defense and development. From the beginning of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, The Netherlands contribute to that mission. From 2006 to 2010 they were a leading country in the southern province of Uruzgan, where the mission consisted of about 1,600 soldiers and a dozen diplomats and development experts, engaged in promoting stability and security in the province. Unfortunately, the debate in the Dutch parliament on a further extension eventually led to the fall of the Dutch Cabinet Balkenende IV. It should be noted that during that period 25 Dutch militaries have paid the highest price, which is they sacrificed their lives, to the reconstruction of my country.
In the following period 2011-2013 the Dutch support included a police training mission with an integrated approach, with emphasis on the qualitative strengthening of the civil police and building the capacity of judicial institutions, especially in the province of Kunduz. As part of the police training mission The Netherlands also placed 40 police trainers and five judicial experts at the European Police Mission in Afghanistan (EUPOL) in Kabul and Kunduz.
Less known is that the history of the diplomatic relationships between Afghanistan and The Netherlands actually already dates from the ‘30s, when Afghanistan was still a kingdom. In 1938, the Afghans proposed the co-accreditation of the Dutch envoy to the Turkish government. And in 1939 a treaty was signed by the Dutch and Afghan diplomatic representatives in Turkey. However, the German occupation of The Netherlands in May 1940 caused the postponement of its completion. After World War II, an interesting but also complicating development occurred when Afghanistan was one of the first states to recognize the independence of Indonesia, the former Dutch colony in Asia. Finally, in 1956 the diplomatic relationship between The Netherlands and Afghanistan got revived by a new treaty, but still without the establishment of mutual permanent missions. In the 60’s Afghanistan became popular with Dutch tourists, especially among young people expecting a carefree, adventurous and mind-expanding holiday in an exotic faraway land, and who increasingly called upon the then honorary consulate in Kabul for their difficulties. After the events in Afghanistan in 1978 / 2001, a lasting relationship could finally be established, marked with the opening of the present Dutch Embassy in Kabul.
After this short regression to the history of the relationships, let us look ahead. Coming September, the 2014 NATO Summit will take place in Celtic Manor, Wales (UK). A follow up to the ISAF-mission will be on the agenda. The Government of my country is looking forward to a further constructive commitment of The Netherlands and its fellow NATO members.