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EU calls for Afghan ceasefire

By Farhad Naibkhel

KABUL: The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini has called on the Taliban group to agree for a truce with the Afghan government; and also expressed EU’s supports to the Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace and reconciliation process.

She said this after appearing in a joint press conference with President Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday at the Presidential Palace.

Just a few years ago, talking about peace seemed to be completely out of the vocabulary – and we discussed this with the President today (Tuesday). But today Afghanistan finds itself at a critical moment in its history, she said.

“You are faced, with a unique window of opportunity to start discussing the perspectives for peace in the country. And let me say that this is the direct result of your [Ashraf Ghani’s] courageous offer last year to start peace talks,” she furthered.

She said today they are discussing about the possibility of entering a phase of peace negotiations for bringing sustainable peace to this country and its people.

The time has come for all Afghans, none excluded, to take the future of their country in their hands, she said, adding “for a peace process that can be really sustainable, we see the need to meet some conditions.”

She said its essential that a ceasefire be agreed by the Taliban and peace talks with the Afghan government must be started.

She also said that inclusive negotiation team to be established, with representatives of all Afghan society, including women – and she stressed this point, because women have proven to be able to play an essential role in peace negotiations worldwide.

“It is internationally proven that any peace agreement that has been negotiated also by women has 40 percent more chance of standing the test of time. So, it is in the interest of the result of the negotiations and not for good feelings that we need women at the table. And also here in Afghanistan women are a very relevant part of society and their inclusion in any peace process is the guarantee that peace is owned and led by Afghans.”

She furthered that upholding and the strengthening of the political, economic and social achievements of the last 18 years, in particular regarding, again, the rights of women, girls, children and minorities must be protected in the talks.

“I would say the upholding and strengthening of the constitutional framework and the democratic set-up of the country.”

For peace to be durable and sustainable, Afghans and Afghan people are called to be not the spectators, but the authors: to write their own present and their own future, she said, adding “yet, even if the Afghans are and have to stay the owners of the process, we know that there are other players that are crucial.”

“I am regularly in touch with the United Nations and regularly discuss Afghanistan also with our partners and interlocutors in the international community, starting from the United States – whose efforts we support, but also with the Russian Federation, with China, with Iran, with the Central Asian countries, to name only a few.”

She and EU Special Envoy for Afghanistan Roland Kobia, had three days ago a meeting with his American Russian, and Chinese counterparts in Washington.

During her meeting with Pakistan leadership, said that fully supports negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government to start immediately.

Indeed, peace is important for Afghanistan, for the neighboring countries, for the region and also for Europe, she said, adding, “our peace, security, growth are deeply interconnected, even if, I want to stress this, the European Union has no particular agenda here, if not the agenda of the Afghan people. Our only agenda is peace, security, and the development of Afghanistan and of the Afghan people – all of them.”

Meanwhile, President Ashraf Ghani told newsmen that the war that has been continued for over 40 years must be ended.

“Afghanistan was an independent country, so this independency has most precious value for us than everything,” the president said, adding.

He welcomed EU support from presidential election based on constitution, says if a government did not elect based on people’s vote—free and transparent, then it would fail to take peace opportunity with participations of people.

“Today peace has changed into a national debate, so next step would be held at the framework of Loya Jirga for Peace to be held soon, where people would be given a chance to determine over their future,” the president added.

President said Afghanistan foreign policy is based on cooperative framework to encourage the regional countries for such steps to work for peace in the region.

“We are living in a time where language of threats and intimidation is not acceptable,” he said, putting Afghanistan at the center of Asia, where peace in Afghanistan means peace in the region and Central Asia.

He said that “we should move toward peace efforts with well-calculated measure steps in order to achieve durable, sustainable and just peace.”  

“Stability that comes though violence, threat and intimidation is not a stability, but indeed, a new chapter of violence, so by unity and national consensuses, the Afghans could ensure their future in the peace process,” the president added.

Afghanistan has been suffering from violence which has domestic and foreign dimensions. “We need to consider all dimension and seek clear outgoing ways,” the president added.

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