The European Union underlines the need for “lasting peace and stability” in Afghanistan, and warns against a “military takeover by the Taliban” militant group while Russia expresses concern about the “alarming” situation in the war-ravaged nation.
In a news blog post, which was released on his official Twitter page on Wednesday, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell wrote about his recent trip to Central and South Asia and his meetings with high-level participants from the region and beyond to discuss regional connectivity and security issues, with the developments in and around Afghanistan at the top of the agenda.
“Lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan must be a common goal and a common responsibility, for Europe and the international community,” he commented, adding that a “peaceful and stable Afghanistan is crucial for the stability and development of the whole region.”
Most European countries showed a dramatic and public show of force and unity when NATO allies lined up to back the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, launched under the pretext of the so-called war on terror. The invasion removed the Taliban from power, but it made the security situation worse in the country. Twenty years later, the militants are resurging and seizing vast swathes of territory in Afghanistan.
Borrell noted that for peace to be restored, the Taliban militant group has to “commit to a negotiated settlement” while all concerned parties, including neighboring countries, the EU and all international partners, have to be clear in their messages to the Taliban that “a military takeover” by the group or attempts to restore the "Islamic Emirate" of the 1990s in Afghanistan are “unacceptable – to a majority of Afghans, to the countries in the region and to the international community.”
The top EU official warned about the repercussions of intensified militancy in Afghanistan, saying an Afghanistan that “descends into chaos would expose the region to further drug trafficking and the spread of radical ideologies, terrorism and violence,” which would affect not only Afghanistan’s neighbors, but it would also “affect our security in Europe.”
He reaffirmed the EU’s support for joint efforts towards helping Afghanistan out of the predicament it is facing, noting, “The EU supports an inclusive, Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process leading to a negotiated political settlement.”
Borrell also highlighted the role of Afghanistan’s neighbors, saying they are in a “key position to support the peace process, through constructive engagement and clear messaging to the Afghan parties.”
Russia concerned over 'alarming' situation in Afghanistan
Meanwhile, Russia has also expressed concern about the situation in Afghanistan, reaffirming Moscow’s cooperation with its partners and Afghanistan’s neighbors on the security situation in the country.
"The situation in Afghanistan is very alarming. The situation in Afghanistan is an issue of our concern," Russia’s Tass news agency quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying on Wednesday.
"We, along with our partners in the Collective Security Treaty Organization, and those countries bordering Afghanistan, are in constant contact and are certainly monitoring, how this situation is unfolding. So far, only alarming news is emanating from there," Peskov told reporters.
The remarks come as the Taliban are waging sweeping offensives across Afghanistan, claiming to have seized territory and border crossings and encircled cities, with the withdrawal of foreign troops.
Amid the intensified attacks across Afghanistan, the Taliban group has engaged in fresh talks with the Kabul government.
The two sides held another round of talks in the Qatari capital, Doha, over the weekend, and said in a joint statement late on Sunday that they had agreed on the need to reach a “just solution,” and to meet again next week.
However, the Qatari facilitator of the talks said at the end of the two days that the sides had merely agreed to "work to prevent civilian casualties," far short of previously agreed ceasefires.
Peace talks between the Taliban and Kabul, as part of a deal between the US and the militant group in Doha last year, have made very little progress so far.
Earlier this month, Iran, an immediate neighbor of Afghanistan home to millions of Afghan refugees over the past decades, hosted a round of intra-Afghan talks, attended by four delegations, including representatives of the Afghan government and parliament, the Taliban militant group and prominent figures supporting the Republic system in the war-torn country.
Iran recent months, Iran has repeatedly voiced its support for measures aimed at establishing peace in Afghanistan.
Late last month, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh underlined the necessity for an inclusive government that would involve all Afghan groups in Afghanistan, saying the Taliban represents only a part of Afghanistan, not the whole present and future status of the country.
Speaking at his weekly press conference on June 28, Khatibzadeh noted that Iran is closely and seriously monitoring the situation in Afghanistan at the high security and political levels and is negotiating with all Afghan groups.