The European Union wants to reopen its diplomatic mission in Afghanistan within a month, reported the Financial Times daily. It noted that the goal of the EU is to deepen its hitherto very limited communication with the Taliban government.
If the EU mission in Afghanistan actually reopens within a month, it will mean the return of European diplomats to Kabul just 12 weeks after they had to leave the city after the Taliban quickly gained control over the territory following the departure of the US and NATO troops. The collapse of Western-backed Afghan forces and the chaotic troop withdrawal was widely seen as a foreign policy disaster on the part of the Biden administration.
The return of EU diplomats is planned at a time when world powers are still debating on how to deal with the Taliban. Brussels has said it intends to communicate with the Taliban government but has no plans to recognize it.
According to the Financial Times, there is a consensus among the EU member states that diplomatic mission in the Taliban-led Afghanistan is necessary for the union to appeal to observing human rights in the country, help prevent a humanitarian crisis and ensure that the Taliban fulfills its commitment for Afghanistan not to become the exporter of terrorism.
The Financial Times further reports Brussels is also reacting to the actions of Russia, Turkey, and China, which did not close their embassies in Afghanistan after the overthrow of the previous Afghan government and which are trying to build close relations with the new regime.
The European External Action Service plans to reopen its diplomatic mission in Kabul, sources briefed on the plan told the British Daily. According to them, in addition to EU officials, diplomats from EU member states could also make use of this. The opening date will reportedly depend on resolving security issues.
In September, Brussels sent a team to Afghanistan to evaluate the feasibility of returning diplomats to Kabul. Without a physical presence in Afghanistan, the EU would not have the access needed to effectively implement the promised regional aid package of around €1 billion.
Over the past month, Brussels has sought to negotiate an agreement with Kabul that would ensure the protection of the seat of the diplomatic mission. However, according to one of the Financial Times sources, the EU has reluctantly accepted the set rules, according to which only the Taliban’s security forces can protect foreign missions in Afghanistan.
EU spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Nabila Massrali, said that a final decision on security has not been taken yet.
“We can confirm that we are working on establishing a minimal presence on the ground. For security reasons, we cannot enter into the details,” Massrali said.
“At this stage, this would only be for the EU. Member states may decide to join, but this is at their discretion. As to whom will guarantee the security of our staff, available options are being explored,” she continued. “As we have repeatedly said, this is not a sign of recognition. We want to be able to better assist the Afghan people who need our help by being closer and, inevitably, we need to engage with the Taliban,” she said, adding that communicating with the Taliban is therefore inevitable.