Brussels (Brussels Morning) Amidst ongoing volatility in Afghanistan, the foreign ministers of NATO member states convened on Friday to discuss the Afghan evacuation, the hosting of refugees and questions of legitimacy relating to the Taliban regime.
In their joint communique, NATO foreign ministers expressed their concern about violence and the violation of human rights, in line with the UN Security Council statement of August 16. Placing an emphasis on the security of the Afghan people, foreign ministers affirmed their commitment to NGOs on the ground and pledged support for a transitional government that would be “inclusive and representative,” with the “meaningful participation of women and minority groups.”
In the subsequent press conference, NATO’s General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg discussed the evacuation efforts in Kabul amidst the transition of powers to the Taliban. NATO’s first priority, the Secretary said, is the evacuation of people holding a passport of one of the members of the Alliance “as well as Afghans who have worked with us.”
Regarding the recognition of the Taliban regime, the General Secretary noted that while “NATO is not a nation and does not recognise states,” he commented that allies should condition their engagement with the Taliban on the behaviour of the new government, “and the extent to which it meets its international commitments.”
“We expect the Taliban to honour their commitments and ensure that Afghanistan does not become a haven for international terrorism again. The Taliban must end the violence in the country and uphold the human rights of all Afghan citizens – men, women and children.”
Lailuma Sadid (Brussels Morning): What is the next step, and how do you see the future without any government? How are the Allies managing the evacuation?
NATO Secretary General: “We discussed some of the urgent issues related to the evacuation, but also the longer-term challenges, the fight against terrorism, how to take a common political approach to the new leadership in Kabul, as well as how to conduct the learning process and maintain the unity of the Alliance.”
Stoltenberg added: “On the immediate and most urgent task of evacuation, I welcome the fact that many Allies have today made a clear offer to host Afghans in their country. So, if we evacuate them, there are many NATO Allies who are prepared to receive (them for) temporary or permanent resettlement in NATO countries.
“Many allies have also sent aircraft: the United States, but also other allies have aircraft in the region, and many have been able to pick up and fly people from the airport. The challenge is to bring the people and (process their entry) to the airport. The good news is that the Allies are ready to receive the Afghan (refugees) and continue to send planes and help with the evacuation.”
Regarding the evacuation, the Secretary General pointed to Pakistan’s special responsibility, “partly because Pakistan is a neighbour of Afghanistan and partly because Pakistan has a close relationship with the Taliban.”