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Top EU diplomat names 5 conditions for engagement with Taliban

Bloc mulls 'operational engagement' with new Afghan government to help Afghan people, rules out official recognition

Agnes Szucs   | 03.09.2021
Top EU diplomat names 5 conditions for engagement with Taliban

BRUSSELS

Without officially recognizing the regime, the European Union will operationally engage with the Taliban based on five criteria for the sake of the Afghan people, the EU foreign policy chief said on Friday.

“The future of Afghanistan remains a key issue for us. It affects us, it affects the region, international stability and it has a direct impact on European security,” Josep Borrell told reporters after an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brdo, Slovenia.

At the two-day conference, hosted by the Slovenian government, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU Council, EU defense and foreign ministers focused on lessons from last month’s crisis in Afghanistan and the bloc’s response to it.

According to Borrell, the ministers agreed that the bloc has to keep its commitment to support the Afghan people.

“In order to support the Afghan population, we will have to engage with the new government in Afghanistan, which does not mean recognition, it is an operational engagement,” he argued, adding that the engagement would grow deeper based on the Taliban’s actions.

Borrell named five criteria or “benchmarks” for the cooperation.

Firstly, he explained, it is crucial for the bloc to see that the Afghan government commits to preventing the country from serving as a basis for international terrorism.

The EU will also observe if the new regime respects the rule of law and human rights, especially women’s rights.

The bloc also sees the composition of the new government as an important criterion for further engagement, with “the establishment of an inclusive and representative transitional government through negotiations among political forces in Afghanistan,” Borrell explained.

The EU will also demand the regime provide free access for humanitarian aid, respecting the delivery and distribution conditions of the bloc and its international partners.

As a last benchmark, the EU expects the new Afghan government to stick to their promise on allowing the departure of foreign citizens and Afghans at risk.

“Some will say ‘oh, but the Taliban will not fulfill them.’ Let us see,” Borrell said, stressing that the EU’s engagement would depend on the fulfillment of these conditions.

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