Foreign Minister Urmas Paet has objected to the Afghan president's description of the state of his country, saying that he did not sufficiently credit the international coalition, in which Estonia is serving.
President Hamid Karzai gave a lengthy interview to the BBC's Yalda Hakim, published on October 7, in which he said the NATO mission had produced "great suffering," "no gains," and "partial security."
Paet told ERR radio news that Karzai's comments were "not acceptable." "If one recalls what state the country was in before the international mission began, if one recalls what support the international forces have given Karzai in those years, such comments are completely incomprehensible," said Paet.
Paet added that the approaching presidential elections in the country could be one explanation for the more recalcitrant tack from Karzai. "But such comments about international forces and the contribution of the international community in Afghanistan are not acceptable," Paet said.
Karzai also said that Afghanistan may not necessarily sign a bilateral security agreement with the US if it is not advantageous to Afghanistan. The US is hoping for a signature before it becomes an election issue. Paet said Afghanistan would be first to be harmed by failure to sign the BSA.
"If the agreement is not signed, support for Afghanistan's development will be very limited. I don't see that this is in the interests of Afghanistan's current leadership. The risks that the situation could continue to change significantly are high," Paet said.
"The signing of such an agreement is in Afghanistan's own interests above all so the society could develop and become a modern society, not fall back. These risks do exist if the international community's support significantly drops, which will certainly happen if the agreement is not signed." Karzai visited Estonia in April. Although yesterday he criticized the situation for being "partial security," he said at that time that Afghans who had worked with the coalition were "safe."
The issue has been topical in Estonia in light of a former Estcoy interpreter's request for protection from the Estonian government, which was denied. The interpreter, Omar, is currently studying in India but continues to make appeals to prominent Estonians for aid and eventual passage to Europe.