The Afghan government on Friday welcomed the statement issued about Afghanistan by the Council of the European Union in which the bloc reaffirmed its political commitment to Afghanistan for peace, security and self-reliance.
“The government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan welcomes a recent decision by the European Council in which the council reaffirmed its continued support to the Afghan peace process and the development of Afghanistan,” the Presidential Palace said in a statement.
“The Afghan government believes that the strategic relations between Afghanistan and the European Union will continue to be strengthened by expanding the shared values and in combating common threats,” said the Palace.
“Strongly welcome EU Council statement. A commendable statement from friends with whom we share core values and common interests, for which we have together sacrificed a lot in the past and for which we will work together. Thank you EU friends,” Afghan acting Foreign Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar tweeted.
In the 13-point statement, the council has stated that its continued political and financial support to Afghanistan is contingent on an Islamic emirate not being formed, the protections of gains of the last 19 years, the upholding of rights, the protection of the Republic, and a lasting ceasefire and immediate start of intra-Afghan negotiations, among other things.
“We want to make clear that future political and financial support will be strongly linked to the commitments of the parties to the conflict to a meaningful peace process and maintaining the achievement of the last years, in particular with regard to women and children,” said Josep Borrell, the EU's foreign affairs chief.
The statement reiterated the EU's support for a diplomatic solution to the Afghan conflict, stating that “a negotiated political settlement leading to peace must build on the democratic and human rights achievements of the past 19 years.”
The statement also called on all the Afghan actors, including traditional, ethnic and religious leaders as well as armed groups, most notably the Taliban, to seize the current historic opportunity for lasting peace and reconciliation.
In the statement, the EU Council asked the Afghan government to continue the course of inclusive and accountable governance, and ensure a meaningful participation of a diverse and inclusive negotiating team, composed of Afghan political and civil society leaders, including women, at the intra-Afghan Negotiations.
“The EU unequivocally supports the Global Appeal made by the Secretary General of the United Nations on 23 March 2020 for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire to focus efforts on tackling the COVID-19 pandemic and to save lives on all sides,” reads the statement.
However, the Taliban in a statement has warned that interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan will pose serious threats to the peace process. The group has said that the intra-Afghan talks will determine the fate of the future political system in Afghanistan.
"On the basis of the agreement with the United States, American allies are also bound to the commitment of non-interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan,” the Taliban said in the statement.
but the Afghan government has not met the expectations by the EU in the past.
Three years ago, the EU called on the Afghan government to launch an investigation into alleged sexual abuse of Ahmad Eshchi, the former governor of Jawzjan province that involved former first vice president Abdul Rashid Dostum. But the demand was never met.
Meanwhile, Abdullah Abdullah, head of the High Council for National Reconciliation, at a press conference in Kabul on Saturday said he remained hopeful about the current opportunity for peace, which he said has been provided due to the ceasefire.
“Our aim, and that of our colleagues at the High Council for National Reconciliation, is to not spare any efforts for lasting and dignified peace in Afghanistan,” Abdullah vowed, adding that today will be considered his first official day in office.
On the prisoner swap, Abdullah said: “The process of the prisoner swap between the two sides will continue, we are strongly determined to reach a dignified and a just peace.”
What do Afghan women think?
“We want the achievements to be saved, particularly achievements in areas of women’s rights and human rights. These issues should be taken into consideration seriously in the peace negotiation talks,” said Feroza Qaderi, an Afghan girl in Kabul.
“The women’s liberties should not be sacrificed, we want these achievements to be safeguarded, we want the right to work,” said Nazanin Barakzai, a resident in Kabul.
Meanwhile a US source close to the peace process said that the Taliban are expected to not maintain the scale of violence that preceded the ceasefire.
He also said that the Taliban are willing to be merged into the structure of the Afghan National Army once a peace agreement is signed.