Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai signed an agreement on comprehensive cooperation on the margins of the NATO summit in Warsaw on Saturday.
"We have signed an agreement on comprehensive cooperation as a step towards comprehensive resolution of the causes, rather than effects, of migrations. Hundreds of thousands of people are emigrating from Afghanistan for economic and security reasons, for reasons of religious intolerance and terrorism," Grabar-Kitarovic said after the signing ceremony.
The agreement provides for establishing joint commissions to be run by the foreign ministries of the two countries.
A plan of cooperation in providing development aid has been agreed, under which Croatia will provide assistance to Afghanistan in education, specifically in the education of girls and women, and in their economic empowerment. Croatia will also provide assistance in health and infrastructure and will continue to assist in defence and security, primarily through mentoring.
On the second day of the summit, Grabar-Kitarovic attended a working a meeting on Afghanistan and the continuation of the Resolute Support mission, warning that a reduction of NATO's presence in Afghanistan might create a security vacuum that might be used by the Taliban and other terrorist groups.
"After decades of persistence, cooperation, patient and committed work with our friends from Afghanistan, we have made a positive impact on the stability of Afghanistan and the security of the people of Afghanistan," she said, adding that a lasting solution for the future of Afghanistan should be underpinned by the process of reconciliation led by Afghanistan, with full respect for the Afghan Constitution.
Grabar-Kitarovic recalled that Croatia had been present in Afghanistan since 2003 and would remain there as long as necessary. "Croatia firmly remains in the Resolute Support mission, sticking to the principle 'we came together, we leave together,''' she added.
Nearly 4,500 Croatian soldiers, diplomats and military police have participated in NATO-led missions in Afghanistan. The Croatian parliament has recently increased the number of Croatian troops in the Resolute Support mission to 95, and Croatia will continue to lead a joint team of five Southeastern European countries in the Train Advise Assist Command North (TAAC North).
"Our shared goal is a stable Afghanistan that will never again be a safe haven for terrorism and an Afghanistan in which its people will prosper," Grabar-Kitarovic said.