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The EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said that the bloc has no choice but to engage with the Taliban government in Afghanistan and will maintain a diplomatic presence in Kabul.
In a speech in the European parliament, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs maintained the bloc could only influence further developments by engaging with the new regime.
“The embassies of the member states have been closed and they are not going to reopen but we still have a delegation that can be seen – just not an embassy, as we are not a state,” Borrell said. “[It] can be used if the security conditions are met in order to discuss with the government in a closer way than through video conferences or through messages.”
Borrell said that the swift collapse of the previous US-backed government was a “tragedy," showing that “nation building” was more difficult than former U.S. president George Bush could have ever imagined.
The former Spanish foreign minister said the EU would not officially recognise the Taliban government but that the bloc sought to talk with the new administration.
The EU will set conditions, however, on its level of engagement with the Taliban, including the protection of human rights.
“Maybe it’s a pure oxymoron to talk about human rights but this is what we have to ask them,” Borrell said. “To have any chance of influencing events, we have no other option but to engage with the Taliban … engaging means talking, discussing and agreeing when possible.”
"Maybe it is a pure oxymoron to talk about human rights but this is what we have to ask them," Borrell says
Brussels and other EU capitals fear a potential migration crisis as people seek to flee Afghanistan in the coming months.
Borrell stated he was not encouraged by the composition of the new government, which includes individuals on a UN sanctions list.
The foreign minister in Afghanistan‘s new Taliban-run cabinet, Amir Khan Muttaqi, said on Tuesday the government would not allow militants to use its territory to attack others while warning foreign powers to not interfere in internal affairs when asked about potential future elections.
Borrell told MEPs that he did not believe that the number of people fleeing the country and entering the EU would be similar to those that came after 2015 from Syria during the country's civil war.
“We don’t want to create a ‘pull effect’ but we want to protect a lot of Afghan people that deserve our protection and we have to discuss with the Taliban how we can offer and make effective these protections,” Borrell added.