The Afghan government has finalized a Cooperation Agreement on Partnership and Development (CAPD) with the European Union (EU), which entails the first official contractual framework governing cooperation between the two entities.
The CAPD enshrines the EU's commitment to a long-term partnership with Afghanistan geared toward addressing the government's visions of "realizing self-reliance." The agreement builds on the EU strategy for 2014-16 in Afghanistan as well as the undertakings from previous international conferences.
The CAPD will help Afghanistan cooperate with the EU in fields such as rule of law, village development, education, anti-corruption, countering money laundering, preventing terrorism funding, combating organized crime and drug smuggling.
Meanwhile, economic experts have said that, given the problems the country has faced over the past fourteen years, the agreement is a crucial step toward a more well-functioning government and economy.
"The EU's commitments to Afghanistan deserves appreciation," university lecturer Sayed Qias Saeedi said on Friday. "But the important thing is the capacity of government institutions to implement the development plans and to recruit groups of professionals into government institutions."
Based on the framework of the agreement, all Afghan nationals will be able to share equally in business competition for contracts with the EU. But, according to EU officials, the agreement also focuses on women's empowerment, youth and the economically disadvantaged.
"There are some common issues between the EU and Afghanistan, which raises concerns for the EU, and money laundering could be one of them, especially drug smuggling, which enters European markets from Afghanistan," economic commentator Nasrullah Stanikizai said. "Now, if the government wants to the implement EU programs, then it should develop its capacities."
The Cooperation Agreement will enable the EU and Afghanistan to jointly address questions of common concern, such as nuclear security, non-proliferation and climate change. Emphasis will be placed on holding regular political dialogue, including on human rights issues, in particular the rights of women and children, which are defined as essential elements of the agreement.