EU acknowledges India’s decisive role: Bilateral roadmap to prevent recreation of ‘Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’

India’s key role in stabilising Afghanistan was reaffirmed through an exhaustive joint statement by Foreign Minister S Jaishankar and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the European Commission, Joseph Borrell, that asked Taliban to demonstrate a genuine commitment to lasting reconciliation as both New Delhi and EU ruled out any restoration of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Without naming Pakistan India and EU asked Afghanistan’s neighbours and regional stakeholders to be active and honest facilitators in promoting a lasting, stable and peaceful resolution of the conflict. 

Besides being invited to six-party talks on the future of Afghanistan and Heart of Asia meet, India is also working with regional parties Iran and Central Asian stakeholders as the US prepares to withdraw from the landlocked country this year. The Indo-EU joint statement was reaffirmation of New Delhi’s role in keeping Afghanistan stable. 

“In line with the 2020 India-EU Summit joint declaration, External Affairs Minister Dr. S Jaishankar and HRVP Borrell reaffirmed the commitment of both sides to continue to cooperate, based on their shared interests and values of democracy, freedom, rule of law and respect for human rights, on international and regional issues of common interest on Afghanistan, and to support the country in its path towards peace, security, self-reliance and prosperity,” according to the Joint Statement issued on Tuesday. 

Calling for respecting and protecting the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of Afghanistan, Jaishankar and Borrell reaffirmed their strong and continued support for an inclusive, Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace process. Jaishankar and Borrell reaffirmed that any political settlement in Afghanistan must protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Afghans, including women, youth and minorities, and build upon the economic, social, political and development gains achieved since 2001 under a democratic constitutional framework. 

Jaishankar and Borrell jointly and firmly condemned the unacceptable level of violence perpetrated against the national forces of Afghanistan and civilians and the targeted assassinations of civil rights activists, media persons and Ulema. They reiterated their call for an immediate, permanent and comprehensive nationwide ceasefire. An effective and unconditional cessation of hostilities is essential for creating the appropriate conditions for the negotiations to proceed meaningfully, for building trust between the parties, in instilling confidence in the Afghan people and for demonstrating a genuine commitment of the Taliban to lasting reconciliation. 

India and EU agreed that a successful peace process requires the Taliban to engage in good faith, with a serious commitment towards finding a political solution. Both sides reiterated the importance of ensuring that the soil of Afghanistan should not be used by terrorist groups to threaten the security of India and the EU. Recalling the India–EU Summit joint declaration on International Terrorism, both sides condemned in the strongest terms all terrorist activities and reaffirmed their strong commitment to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including its financing, the dismantling of terrorist infrastructures and countering radicalisation, to ensure that Afghanistan is never again a safe haven for international terrorism. 

India and EU expect that the political process will lead to an Afghanistan that, as a signatory of the UN Charter, upholds and promotes the values, fundamental rights and principles enshrined therein, and does not constitute a threat to international peace and security. They will not support the restoration of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, as stated in UNSC Resolution 2513. 

“External Affairs Minister Dr. Jaishankar and HRVP Borrell reiterated their commitment to respect and further promote a rules-based multilateral order with the United Nations at its core, including UNSC Resolution 2513, which provides a clear framework of conditionality regarding any future review of the UN sanctions regime in terms of commitments from the parties to be met and progress to be measured in this regard,” according to the joint statement. 

India and the EU have also underscored the importance of access to sea and ports for the expansion of Afghanistan’s trade, in accordance with UNCLOS provisions. India and EU have decided to explore initiatives to improve regional connectivity and ways to operationalise measures to facilitate trade and transit through regional development projects, including with Central Asia and South Asia, with a view to ensuring synergies and complementarities between their developmental cooperation with Afghanistan. 

India and EU also felt combating terrorism, illicit economies, including drug trafficking and illegal mining, curbing money laundering and financing of terrorism, and preventing human trafficking will serve the cause of peace in Afghanistan as well as the betterment of the whole region. 

Earlier the EU and Pakistan had issued a joint declaration on Afghanistan. However, it was less exhaustive and forward looking compared to the India-EU declaration. 

“The European Union (EU) and Pakistan reaffirm their determination to strengthen in a strategic way their long-term, forward-looking and broad-based partnership for peace, development and prosperity. “The Strategic Engagement Plan” that the two sides signed in June 2019 provides a framework for their bilateral engagements and ambitions in this area. The EU and Pakistan wish to jointly reflect on the current state of play of the Afghan Peace Process, and encourage its unwavering continuation. They reaffirm their strong support for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process and welcome the progress made in the last two years, including the signature, on 29 February 2020, of the agreement between the U.S. and the Taliban and the parallel Declaration between the Government of Afghanistan and the U.S., in Doha and Kabul respectively,” according to EU-Pakistan joint statement. 

“The EU and Pakistan welcome the start of the process of direct Intra-Afghan Negotiations and the new chapter this opens. Since Intra-Afghan Negotiations are Afghan-led and Afghan-owned, therefore, its success depends primarily upon the Taliban and the Afghan Government, and both sides should make earnest efforts for achieving lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan. These negotiations should be held with the aim of protecting and strengthening the achievements of the last 19 years in the areas of socio-economic development, human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Afghans, notably women and youth, and lay the democratic foundation of a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan. The EU and Pakistan urge the international community to support Afghanistan for creating conditions for the timely and early return of Afghan refugees…Continued violence in Afghanistan is in sharp contradiction with regional aspirations for peace. It also complicates the efficient tackling of the exceptional threat Afghanistan and the region face with the COVID-19 pandemic. The EU and Pakistan, therefore, call on the parties to observe a lasting humanitarian ceasefire, in response to the global appeal by UN Secretary General Guterres, and to strive towards a complete elimination of violence as a clear demonstration of their genuine commitment to lasting peace and reconciliation.” 

The EU and Pakistan also underlined the importance of cross-border and intra-regional activities and initiatives that promote the region's economic integration and development, and express their willingness to engage in constructive initiatives there on, according to the joint statement. 



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