Afghanistan | The European Union is considering its presence in Kabul

(Brdo Castle (Kranj)) European Union countries on Friday detailed their terms for their future relationship with the Taliban, and decided to coordinate to ensure a civilian presence in Kabul to assist with the evacuations, provided that security allows it.

Max Delaney
France media agency

“We must talk with the new Afghan government, and this does not mean recognition, it is a practical dialogue,” said Josep Borrell, head of European diplomacy, during a press conference on the occasion of the meeting of EU foreign ministers in Slovenia.

“This operational dialogue will intensify depending on the behavior of this government,” he added.

And he set a series of conditions, while the Taliban is scheduled to unveil the new government in Kabul no later than Saturday.

The Europeans in particular set conditions that Afghanistan would not serve as a rear base for terrorism, that the authorities respect women’s rights and freedom of the press, that an “inclusive and representative” government be established, and unhindered access to humanitarian aid, which the EU plans to increase.

After the Taliban returned to power 20 years after they were ousted by a US-led coalition, the Taliban, since capturing Kabul on August 15, have increased opening statements aimed at reassuring the population and the international community.

Terms are not negotiable

Josep Borrell added that the Taliban must honor their commitments to allow vulnerable foreigners and Afghans to leave the country, after US-led evacuations ended in late August.

“For us, these terms are not negotiable,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas commented.

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“Of course, no one is under the illusion that they will all be 100% accomplished in the coming days,” he added, referring to a “long-term task.”

To allow the departure of those who cannot be evacuated, EU countries have agreed to establish a “presence” in Kabul.

“We have decided to work in a coordinated manner to coordinate our communications with the Taliban, including by being in Kabul. […] “If security conditions permit,” Borrell said.

He insisted that in order to “evacuate the people we want to accept (in the EU, editor’s note), we need a strong commitment, a strong connection” to the existing authority.

European diplomats left Afghanistan to join neighboring countries or return to their countries of origin.

But the EU fears that the European diplomatic absence will leave the door open to powers such as Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan and Qatar, which have left their embassies open.

But Heiko Maas said EU countries would need “security guarantees” before a diplomatic presence could return.

“If we want to help Afghans, we need people who can provide that help to those who need it,” he said.

The United Nations said it had resumed humanitarian flights in the north and south of the country.

The EU foreign minister also spoke of the need to continue cooperation with Afghanistan’s neighbors through a “regional political cooperation platform”.

On Tuesday, at a meeting of their interior ministers, the 27 countries pledged to support countries in the region in hosting refugees fleeing the Taliban.

The European Union wants to avoid the influx of migrants on its territory as happened in 2015, which has not happened so far. Pakistan and Iran host the largest number of Afghan refugees.

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