On June 18 NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer paid a visit to Chaghcharan PRT-9 operated by Lithuania in Ghowr province of Afghanistan. The guest appreciated professionality of civilian and military peacekeepers of PRT-9 in conducting provincial reconstruction and fulfilling Lithuania's international commitments in Afghanistan.
While visiting Chaghcharan J. de Hoop Scheffer was escorted by the PRT-9 military personnel and diplomats of Lithuania to the Training Centre of Civilian Personnel of Ghowr, local girls' school, the Provincial Governor's Office; he also communicated with PRT command and troops, and members of governmental organisations of other states residing in the compound of PRT-9.
Activities of the Training Centre of Civilian Personnel established on the funding of Governments of Lithuania and the USA were introduced to the high guest: programmes of computer literacy, English language and management basics, and administrative skills.
In the girls' school Secretary General visited several classes and spent some time talking with pupils. He was satisfied to hear that quite some of young Afghan women were seeing themselves as future lawyers or doctors.
In the meeting with Provincial Governor Sayed Mohhamad Iqbal Munib NATO Secretary General could get a view of security situation in the province and essential setbacks in the provincial development process. J. de Hoop Scheffer emphasized that Lithuania and other NATO member states put a lot of effort in reconstruction of Ghowr, however, it is a long-term process demanding time and financial input.
The Governor, in his turn, expressed his delight in excellent relationship with Lithuanian peacekeepers and international organisations operating in Ghowr that are also welcomed by local people. „After three decades of wars we are beginning a new stage of life in Afghanistan with assistance of NATO and international organisations. Our joint work with PRT and Central Government is our contribution to the welfare of Afghanistan," Ghowr Governor said.
J. de Hoop Scheffer highlighted positive effect of Japan's joining the Lithuanian-led PRT. „Quite recently I have been talking about Afghanistan in Japan, and now I find Japanese representatives when visiting Chaghcharan," NATO Secretary General said.
Commander PRT-9 Col. Alvydas Šiuparis introduced tasks undertaken by the peacekeeping unit and pointed out that provinces like Ghowr were in need of greater support from international community than what it received to that moment: being relatively more peaceful than surrounding regions Ghowr does not always attract all the attention necessary for development of vital sectors. „We are in great need to implement important projects of infrastructure and development that could facilitate provincial development. More attention, especially of the Central Government of Afghanistan, would be more than welcome ", commented Col. A. Šiuparis.
„I have been addressing major member states of NATO asking to contribute to reconstruction of Afghanistan and to establish PRTs many times. However, I used to get the answer that the nations would not afford headquarters in Afghanistan. My response each time was the same: please, go to Vilnius and ask Lithuanians how they manage to maintain their PRT and fulfil commitments to NATO. This is the reason that makes me respect Lithuania and its people greatly. Besides, I made a promise to Valdas Adamkus, President of the Republic of Lithuania, once that I would go to Afghanistan and see how Lithuanians are conducting their activities in the province myself", J. H. Scheffer disclosed the reason of his visit before departure.
It has been the second visit of the NATO Secretary General in the Lithuanian-led PRT HQ in Ghowr. J. de Hoop Scheffer met with the first rotation of Lithuanian PRT in 2005.
At the moment the ninth rotation of Lithuanian peacekeepers is deployed to Ghowr, the team is mainly formed of personnel of the Lithuanian General Romualdas Giedraitis Artillery Battalion.
PRT is a joint military-civilian mission seeking in Afghanistan its main purpose - strengthening authority of the Central Government in the province, providing assistance in creating security and stability in the province, and creating suitable environment for reconstruction of the province and the entire country. In the mission Lithuanian personnel are accompanied by representatives of Denmark, Japan, Croatia, Ukraine, Georgia, and the USA.
PIO of PRT-9 1st Lt. Marius Varna