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Welcome from the Chair

Welcome to the website of the Delegation for relations with Afghanistan (D-AF)

The Delegation for relations with Afghanistan is a standing body of the European Parliament, which I have the privilege of chairing since 26 September 2019 for the second legislative term. It meets regularly in Brussels with various interlocutors to discuss a broad range of issues.

Due to the recent events, Afghanistan is facing very critical challenges at humanitarian and security level that impact stability and security of the country itself, the wider region and the EU.

On 29 February 2020, the United States and the Taliban signed the Afghanistan-U.S. Joint Statement for Peace in Doha, Qatar without involving the Afghan government. The announcement of the Biden administration in April 2021 to complete the withdrawal of US Armed Forces by 30 August 2021 without setting conditions quickly led to a catastrophic situation leaving the country in turmoil. Because of the rapid collapse of Afghan institutions and its Armed forces, the Taliban rolled over the country in less than two weeks, and on 15 August 2021 Kabul was in their hands. The new caretaker government has been formed without keeping the Taliban's promises of an inclusive government and perpetrates continuously severe human rights violations, in particular against women, girls and minorities. The re-establishment of an Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan with a radical sharia law is of deep concern to the EU.

The collective failure of the West and the country's fall under the Taliban's control triggers a series of questions. Priority for the EU should be to evacuate those who have been left behind and whose lives are threatened by the new regime. In particular, the international community needs to cope with the humanitarian crisis. The country, one of the most aid-dependent in the world, is facing an unfolding humanitarian catastrophe leaving half of its population without basic necessities such as food, water and medicines. With over 3 million Internally Displaced People in Afghanistan and more than 2 million refugees and asylum seekers in the neighbouring countries Pakistan and Iran, the humanitarian situation has aggravated the whole region. At the UN Conference in Geneva on 13 September 2021, pledges of 1.2 million US Dollars have been made out of which 677 million stem from the EU and its Member States. In addition, the possible increase of international terrorism, migration issues and an expected increase of narcotics' influx require particular attention. The new situation requires also the revision of the EU's strategy for Afghanistan and the wider region, including the role of Afghanistan's neighbours -notably Pakistan- as well as China and Russia. Other issues for consideration are the concept of nation building and the lack of genuine European military capabilities in the context of the ongoing debates on strategic autonomy and European sovereignty.

Against this background, the Delegation for relations with Afghanistan aims to keep the country high on the agenda. It is convinced that Afghan citizens deserve the EU's continuous support, which is in the EU's own interest, too. Despite the difficulties, the delegation will back any effort to pursue reforms in the country and to preserve the achievements of the last 20 years, notably for women, girls, minorities and in the field of education. It believes that the European Parliament should accompany the post-conflict reconstruction jointly with the parliamentary committees involved. It is obvious that any future development assistance has to be based on conditions. The need for operational engagement with the new de facto government does not signify its official recognition. As a democratic directly elected body, the delegation considers that the European Parliament should scrutinise the EU's involvement in Afghanistan and advocates the establishment of an EU antenna in Kabul, when time will allow, to assess the humanitarian, human rights, migration, economic and security situation on the ground.

I am looking forward to continuing this meaningful work with my delegation colleagues.

Petras Auštrevičius
Chair of the Delegation for relations with Afghanistan

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