German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Wednesday that the West has failed in its political goals in Afghanistan in the wake of the Taliban takeover.
“We have achieved our military goal of defeating those who, twenty years ago, brought terrible terror to our allies from Afghanistan. But we have not achieved our broader goal of building stable state structures in Afghanistan, " Steinmeier said at a televised special ceremony in Berlin paying tribute to German soldiers who served nearly 20 years in Afghanistan.
“For me, one thing is certain: the fall of Kabul was a turning point. We are at a crossroads that forces us to reflect on our responsibility in the world, our possibilities and their limits in a new and self-critical manner,” said Steinmeier.
“I hope that in 20 years we will not look back at this crossroads and say: Resignation and withdrawal were the answer to Afghanistan. It would be the wrong lesson,” he added.
Steinmeier was joined by Chancellor Angela Merkel, Parliament President Wolfgang Schauble and other top officials at a final roll call for the troops at the Defense Ministry in Berlin.
The ceremony honoring Germany's Afghanistan military mission will conclude later in the evening with a torchlight parade and taps known as the Grosser Zapfenstreich (Grand Tattoo).
The deployment of the German military in Afghanistan has come to an end with the completion of the military evacuation operation on Aug. 27, 2021.
A total of 59 German soldiers died in Afghanistan with 35 of them killed in combat or as a result of terror attacks.
Berlin’s military mission in Afghanistan has cost German taxpayers at least €12.5 billion, according to the country’s Defense Ministry.
More than 150,000 German troops served in the 20-year-old mission in the war-ravaged Central Asian country.