Tajkistan / Politics / European Union Special Envoy for Afghanistan pays two-day visit to Tajikistan for consultations

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The Special Envoy reportedly held discussions with President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Sirojiddin Muhriddin, the Minister of the Internal Affairs Ramazon Rahimzoda and Commander of Border Troops, Colonel-General Rajabali Rahmonali as well as a range of other representatives of international organizations and diplomatic representatives.

Mr. Niklasson discussed the EU priorities on Afghanistan, especially the shared concerns on the lack of an inclusive political process in Afghanistan, which is a precondition for long-term peace and stability in the country. Interlocutors discussed also the human rights situation in Afghanistan, especially the situation for women and access to education for girls. Security implications for the region, including challenges on trafficking of drugs and weapons, as well migration and the situation of refugees were also discussed. The regional dynamics and geopolitical developments were also topics of discussion.

The EU Special Envoy, in particular, stated that his consultations in Tajikistan showed that Tajikistan and the EU share a common vision for a strong, independent, peaceful and stable Afghanistan. “A country, where the population enjoys the full rights and freedoms afforded to them by the commitments made by the state of Afghanistan, which does not pose or harbor threats to other countries. Our discussions focused especially on the need for genuinely inclusive political processes in Afghanistan, crucial for long terms stability. I look forward to further consultations in the region in the weeks and months to come,” Mr. Niklasson said.

The EU reportedly remains committed to assisting the Afghan people. The EU and its Member States have substantially increased support to the humanitarian assistance and basic needs. At the pledging event on March 31, the EU and the Member States contributed more than 500 million euros for 2022 out of the 2.2 billion euros pledges for Afghanistan by the international community.

In Tajikistan, the EU programs contribute to stabilization of the border with Afghanistan, capacity building for border management and emergency response, counterterrorism, humanitarian and refugee response preparedness, but also resilience and development of border communities.

Last week, Mr. Niklasson also had a meeting in Brussels with Special Envoys and Representatives from France, Germany, Italy, US, UK, Norway and the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, Deborah Lyons, Head of United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.

The mandate of the EU Special Envoy for Afghanistan covers two broad areas. The first concerns the overall coordination of EU engagements related to a process of political consolidation in Afghanistan. In this context, the EU Special Envoy maintains contacts with and implements the EU policy on Afghanistan vis-à-vis a broad range of Afghan stakeholders, including the de facto authorities as well as civil society representatives. The second main area of his work concerns dialogue and cooperation with Afghanistan’s neighbors, the countries of the region, and key partners all over the world, in view of having a common understanding and formulating joint approaches in the promotion of a stable, secure, democratic and prosperous future for Afghanistan.

The EU policy on Afghanistan is guided by five benchmarks agreed in September 2021 by the 27 Foreign Ministers of the EU. These benchmarks, or areas of focus, orientate the EU’s engagement with the Taliban de facto authorities and concern i) unhindered humanitarian access, ii) respect for human rights, notably those of women, children, and minorities, iii) a process enabling an inclusive and representative governance system, iv) effective counter-terrorism measures and v) ensuring the safe passage of EU nationals and those wishing to leave Afghanistan.

The President of the European Commission announced in October 2021 a 1 billion euro “Afghanistan Support Package”, including substantially increased humanitarian aid, additional basic needs assistance for the population in the areas of education, health and livelihoods, and continuing support for the region to address the protracted Afghan displacement situation. Close to half of this amount was already contracted before the end of 2021.

The humanitarian assistance pledges by the EU and its Member States at the UN high-level meeting on Afghanistan in September 2021 amounted to EUR 677 million. The EU pledged EUR 113 million at the UN High-level Pledging Conference for Afghanistan on 31 March. The joint pledges by the EU and its Member States on this occasion reached almost 25% of the overall pledges (USD 597 million out of USD 2.4 billion).

Source: Asia-Plus