The Slovenia Times

EU foreign ministers set five conditions for cooperation with Taliban


Brdo pri Kranju - The EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell has announced that EU foreign ministers have agreed on five benchmarks which will form the basis for the bloc to engage in cooperation with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

For the EU to operatively cooperate with the Taliban, Afghanistan must fulfil its commitment that the country will not serve as "a base for the export of terrorism to other countries", Borrell told the press at Brdo pri Kranju on Friday, the last day of proceedings at the two-day informal meeting as part of Slovenia's EU presidency.

Afghanistan will have to respect human rights, in particular women's rights, the rule of law and freedom of the media.

The third benchmark is forming "an inclusive and representative transition government on the basis of negotiations of all political forces in Afghanistan".

Another condition the Taliban will have to meet is allowing free access to humanitarian aid provided by the EU.

"We will increase humanitarian aid, but will judge them according to the access they provide to the help according to our procedures and conditions," Borrell explained.

The last benchmark is the Taliban's fulfilment of their commitment about the departure of foreign nationals and Afghans at risk who wish to leave the country.

Borrell however said that these were not formal conclusions of the Council as the meeting was informal in nature.

He said the key topic of the discussion on Afghanistan, which started yesterday and ended toady, was how to act in relation to the new, Taliban-led government.

Slovenia's Foreign Minister An┼że Logar, who co-hosted the ministerial alongside Borrell, said the five conditions will inform all future discussions at EU level.

"Members states authorised the high representative together with the External Action Service (EEAS) to centralise the relations towards the government which is being formed in Afghanistan."

Logar said that the EU ministers had agreed it was important to monitor progress, that is compliance with these rules.

The ministers urged enhancing efforts to evacuate all EEAS and member states' co-workers who are trapped in Afghanistan following the suspension of the airlift, he added.

Borrell meanwhile said all people at risk, people who worked for the EU, people who supported Afghanistan's democratisation, and are still there, should be evacuated.

In line with Tuesday's decision by EU interior ministers, every country will decide on people at risk it is willing to accept on a voluntary basis.

"To carry out the evacuation and assess the fulfilment of the above benchmarks, we decided on coordinated action, and we will be in contact with the Taliban, also through the EU's common presence in Kabul which will be coordinated by the External Action Service, but only if the security conditions are met," the EU official said.

The ministers agreed that migration flows management will be addressed by a regional political platform for cooperation with Afghanistan's neighbours which will work under EEAS's wing, according to Borrell. The platform will also address the prevention of the spread of terrorism and the fight against organised crime.

"This platform is very much needed if we want to stabilise the entire region," said Borrell, announcing cooperation with specialised agencies, the US and other partners in G7 and G20.

According to Logar, today's debate showed that members states want to speak the same language and would not like a repeat of the migration situation from 2015 and 2016.


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