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Afghanistan can’t expect continued support: EU envoy

AT-KABUL: Urging the Afghan government to make tough decisions, the European Union (EU) Special Representative and Head of the EU Delegation to Afghanistan said that Kabul should not expect continued support but has to take result-oriented steps during the four-year timeline decided by the EU.

Addressing a gathering at the Afghanistan Institute for Strategic Studies (AISS) Franz-Michael Skjold Mellbin said the EU has decided to finance the Afghan government for four years which should be taken as “a miracle” by the Afghan leaders.

He said the EU is stressing on peace talks as the country is in a fragile state. “We are focused on the new definition from war winning to peace winning. Therefore, peace and stability is vital. Afghan government has to take tough decisions in the four years.”

The EU representative said that heart of the issue lays in Afghanistan, and emphasized on loyalty of the citizens to the state. He suggested that the Afghan government should deal with the warlordism and criminal activities. “Many people are benefiting from weakness of the government.”

Mellbin said the Afghan security forces will be supported till 2020.

According to the EU envoy, competition, hegemony and proxy wars have made the region unstable. He stressed on emerging regional consensus on peace and stability, saying, “That is what everybody can agree to in the region.”

He asked the Afghan leaders to resolve differences, suggesting that they should make “strategic compromises for national interests” to move forward.

Regarding the European Union’s role in the country, he said: “The EU is playing neutral role in Afghanistan and trying for peace and stability. We are working on human rights’ protection. We believe in international partnership. The EU’s role in Afghanistan is policy-driven.”

Expressing concerns over human rights situation in the country, he said the EU wants to see Afghanistan as part of solution to the humanitarian crisis as the European Union and Afghanistan are partners.

Responding to a question on the electoral reforms and polling process, the EU representative said that democracy is an alternative narrative to insurgency. “Therefore, is no other solution but to hold elections in Afghanistan.”

He said the Afghan president should convince public about his policies.  “A policy that cannot be explained is a bad policy. Afghanistan shall be institutionalized. It cannot be done unless the policy is explained,” Mellbin said.

Speaking about growing insurgency in the country, he said the Taliban exploit from Afghan government’s weaknesses.

He said that the Taliban are not strong but the Afghan government is weak, adding that the militants are exploiting weakness of the government.

He said that before fall of the Kunduz in September 2015, he warned the high-ranking Afghan officials to pay attention to the fragile security in the province.

“Fall of Kunduz to the Taliban was not a surprise. I contacted everyone before the fall and told them to pay attention to the deteriorating security situation in the province. Everyone knew the Taliban will capture Kunduz. Military and police officials hated each other there,” the EU envoy pointed out.

Regarding the leadership problem in the Afghan security forces, he said the Taliban are promoting those who are qualified. “The Afghan government shall do the same. There are hundreds of military generals in Afghanistan, more than any developed country. There is also need for change in the command. The Afghan government shall promote talented people to fight the war,” added.

He said the EU addressed the leadership problem in the Afghan security forces forcefully.

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