The European Union is ready to cooperate with the new Taliban government in Kabul, but the Islamist group must respect human rights, including those of women, and not let Afghanistan become a base for terrorism, foreign policy chief said of the EU Friday.
“To support the Afghan people, we will have to work with the new government in Afghanistan,” Josep Borrell said at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Slovenia.
He described an “operational commitment”, which in itself would not constitute formal recognition of the Taliban government, and would “increase depending on the behavior of this government”.
Borrell said the new government must prevent the country from becoming a breeding ground for terrorists again, as it was during the last time the Taliban was in power. It must respect human rights, the rule of law and freedom of the media and negotiate a transitional government with other political forces.
The Taliban have not yet appointed a government, more than two weeks since they returned to power. Their 1996-2001 regime was marked by violent punishments and a ban on education or employment for women and girls, and many Afghans and foreign governments fear a return to such practices.
The terrorists say they have changed, but are yet to clarify the rules they will enforce.
Borrell said the new government in Kabul should also provide free access to humanitarian aid, subject to EU procedures and delivery terms.
“We will increase humanitarian aid, but we will judge them based on the access they provide,” Borrell said.
Aid agencies have said Afghanistan is facing a humanitarian catastrophe amid an economic crisis brought on by the conflict, a drought and the COVID-19 pandemic. According to EU experts, about 18 million Afghans – about half the population – already need humanitarian aid.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said it depends on the Taliban how quickly frozen development aid – which is different from unconditional humanitarian aid – can flow again.
“We have heard many moderate comments in recent days, but we will measure the Taliban by their actions, not their words,” Maas told reporters in Slovenia.
“We want to help prevent an impending humanitarian crisis in the coming winter, so we need to act quickly.”
In a video statement ahead of his trip to Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Qatar and Pakistan, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said Rome wanted to help Afghanistan’s neighbors deal with refugee flows.
“We have to face what could become a mass exodus to Europe, we must avoid this,” he said.
Borrell said the EU aims to coordinate its contacts with the Taliban through a joint EU presence in Kabul, if security conditions make it safe to do so.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NewsMadura staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)