EU envoy notes strong commitment to Afghanistan at Doha meeting

EU speical envoy for Afghanistan, Tomas Niklasson.

EU special envoy for Afghanistan, Tomas Niklasson, reflected on the recent UN meeting in Doha, noting a significant commitment to Afghanistan and its people. He emphasized the collective desire to support a peaceful future for Afghanistan, one that is in harmony with the region and the international community, and respects the rights of all Afghans, including political rights.

In a statement, Niklasson observed that the majority of participants, including Muslim-majority countries and the EU, emphasized the importance of girls’ and women’s rights, particularly in education and employment. These rights were highlighted as key from the perspectives of human rights, Islamic values, and economic and social development.

Niklasson commended the de facto authorities, the Taliban, for their efforts to reduce poppy cultivation and rehabilitate individuals with drug addictions, noting that the EU and others offered continued support for these initiatives. However, he also expressed concerns about the ongoing presence and activities of terrorist organizations in Afghanistan, posing a threat to regional and global security.

He acknowledged a broad welcome for the findings of the independent UN assessment by Ambassador Feridun Sinirlioglu and a willingness among most participants to engage based on this report, seeking practical ways to implement its recommendations.

Niklasson expressed regret over the Taliban’s absence at the meeting but found the discussions with Afghan women and men insightful, adding nuance and precision to the understanding of Afghanistan’s complex situation.

He welcomed the continuation of meetings in this format as a standing group, Qatar’s offer to host, and the sense of urgency towards the next meeting. Additionally, he voiced his deep respect for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s leadership and commitment to Afghanistan, including the intention to appoint a UN Special Envoy for the country as mandated by the UNSC.

A UN Special Envoy should coordinate among special envoys, communicate with all parties, and lead a process based on an agreed roadmap, Niklasson stated. He emphasized the importance of good relations with Afghanistan’s neighbors and the role of a UN-led process to complement regional formats.

Niklasson concluded by asserting that Afghanistan’s future and its dealings with the past should be determined by the Afghan people in their diversity. He emphasized that other countries and organizations can only provide support, highlighting the need for more Afghan representation in these discussions.