EU 3106th Council meeting on Pakistan and Afghanistan

3106th Coun­cil meet­ing, For­eign Affairs
Brus­sels, 18 July 2011
Min­is­ters dis­cussed Pak­istan and Afghanistan over lunch. They were joined by NATO Sec­re­tary- Gen­er­al Anders Fogh Ras­mussen for the dis­cus­sion on Afghanistan. The Coun­cil adopt­ed the fol­low­ing con­clu­sions:

1. “The EU reaf­firms its com­mit­ment to build­ing a strong long-term part­ner­ship with Pak­istan, and to sup­port­ing Pakistan’s demo­c­ra­t­ic insti­tu­tions and civil­ian gov­ern­ment, as well as civ­il soci­ety. The EU is deter­mined that this part­ner­ship should be based on mutu­al inter­ests and shared val­ues. It should be wide-rang­ing, cov­er­ing eco­nom­ic and trade coop­er­a­tion and pro­vi­sion of human­i­tar­i­an and devel­op­ment assis­tance, region­al and glob­al secu­ri­ty issues, respect for human rights and the rule of law, and migra­tion issues, includ­ing ille­gal immi­gra­tion. As regards Pakistan’s rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the ICCPR and the CAT, the EU notes the inten­tion of Pak­istan to for­mal­ly with­draw many of its reservations.

2. As the EU’s part­ner­ship with Pak­istan matures, it should increas­ing­ly bal­ance the inter­ests and con­cerns of both part­ners. Thus, while the EU is ready to pur­sue coop­er­a­tion in a num­ber of areas, we also count on Pak­istan to react to EU con­cerns, in par­tic­u­lar in the fields of secu­ri­ty and of human rights, includ­ing the pro­tec­tion of minori­ties and free­dom of reli­gion and speech. More­over, with­out far-reach­ing struc­tur­al, eco­nom­ic and fis­cal reforms, EU assis­tance can­not be ful­ly effective.

3. The EU ful­ly recog­nis­es that Pak­istan has suf­fered huge sac­ri­fices in seek­ing secu­ri­ty and sta­bil­i­ty in the region. It strong­ly encour­ages Pak­istan to step up efforts to com­bat ter­ror­ism and extrem­ism. The EU is coop­er­at­ing with Pak­istan on strength­en­ing the law enforce­ment capa­bil­i­ties of the police and judi­cia­ry. Pakistan’s con­tri­bu­tion to the Afghan led polit­i­cal process aimed at resolv­ing the con­flict in Afghanistan will be essen­tial and the EU wel­comes recent dis­cus­sions between the two governments.

4. The EU remains com­mit­ted to the Euro­pean Council’s Dec­la­ra­tion of 16 Sep­tem­ber 2010 regard­ing i.a. bet­ter mar­ket access for Pak­istan. It has made strong efforts to achieve a con­sen­sus in the WTO on the EU’s request for a waiv­er to grant Pak­istan the time-lim­it­ed reduc­tion of duties on key imports to the EU mar­ket. The Coun­cil reit­er­ates its com­mit­ment to Pakistan’s eli­gi­bil­i­ty to GSP+, as from 2014, pro­vid­ed that it meets the nec­es­sary cri­te­ria. In this con­text, the effec­tive imple­men­ta­tion of the Inter­na­tion­al Con­ven­tions list­ed in the EU’s GSP reg­u­la­tion should be pur­sued by Pakistan. 

5. The Coun­cil invites the EEAS, in con­sul­ta­tion with the Com­mis­sion, to resume work with the Gov­ern­ment of Pak­istan on an ambi­tious five year Engage­ment Plan, and to review progress at the forth­com­ing meet­ing of the EU-Pak­istan Joint Com­mis­sion, with a view to the ini­ti­a­tion of the Strate­gic Dia­logue at min­is­te­r­i­al lev­el fore­seen at the June 2010 EU-Pak­istan Sum­mit. The Coun­cil looks for­ward to the launch of the Strate­gic Dia­logue dur­ing a vis­it by the HR to Pak­istan at the ear­li­est pos­si­ble time and, in the light of progress achieved, to a third EU-Pak­istan Summit.”

1. “The Coun­cil wel­comes the start of the tran­si­tion process in Afghanistan this month. 2. It believes that there is no alter­na­tive to an Afghan-led process lead­ing to a polit­i­cal solu­tion to the con­flict. It stands ready to sup­port these efforts, while stress­ing the impor­tance of close coor­di­na­tion between all par­ties involved. In this con­text, it rec­og­nizes the High Peace Council’s efforts to forge a broad nation­al con­sen­sus in sup­port of peace and reconciliation.

3. Fol­low­ing the death of Usama bin Laden and the cre­ation of a new sanc­tions regime for the Afghan insur­gency, those who have par­tic­i­pat­ed in the insur­gency now have an oppor­tu­ni­ty to par­tic­i­pate in the polit­i­cal process. While there should be no con­di­tions for the begin­ning of polit­i­cal talks, the out­come must be in line with the red lines laid down by the Afghan Gov­ern­ment and sup­port­ed by the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty: renounc­ing vio­lence, cut­ting ties with Al Qae­da and respect for the Afghan con­sti­tu­tion includ­ing its pro­vi­sions on human rights. Par­tic­u­lar atten­tion must be paid to the rights of women.

4. The EU reit­er­ates its strong com­mit­ment to Afghanistan’s devel­op­ment and to the tran­si­tion process dur­ing the peri­od until the end of 2014, when respon­si­bil­i­ty for secu­ri­ty will be ful­ly in the hands of the Afghan author­i­ties, and beyond. This is a pri­or­i­ty for the EU. The EU notes that tran­si­tion in the secu­ri­ty field must go hand in hand with sus­tain­able progress in gov­er­nance, rule of law and development.

5. For the EU’s long-term engage­ment to suc­ceed, the con­di­tions on the ground, espe­cial­ly as regards secu­ri­ty, must allow its sup­port to Afghanistan’s devel­op­ment to be deliv­ered safe­ly through­out the coun­try. More­over, Afghanistan should take the nec­es­sary mea­sures to rein­force the demo­c­ra­t­ic insti­tu­tions of gov­er­nance, includ­ing over­sight by elect­ed bod­ies at both nation­al and sub-nation­al lev­els, in par­tic­u­lar as regards the flows and use of pub­lic finances. The inde­pen­dent role of the par­lia­ment, of the judi­cia­ry and of the author­i­ties charged with audit must be respect­ed and pro­gres­sive­ly strength­ened. The Coun­cil express­es its con­cern about the lack of progress in the areas of gov­er­nance, rule of law and anti­cor­rup­tion and calls upon the Gov­ern­ment of Afghanistan to show deter­mined lead­er­ship in deliv­er­ing on the com­mit­ments made at the July 2010 Kab­ul Conference. 

6. In this respect the EU urges Afghanistan and the IMF to reach an agree­ment rapid­ly, so that the cri­sis fol­low­ing the col­lapse of the Kab­ul Bank can be resolved in a prag­mat­ic and trans­par­ent way, for the ben­e­fit of Afghanistan’s finan­cial sec­tor as well as to allow devel­op­ment flows to resume as soon as pos­si­ble. The EU appeals to the Afghan insti­tu­tions to find a con­sti­tu­tion­al solu­tion to the prob­lems which have arisen fol­low­ing the 2010 par­lia­men­tary elec­tions. This solu­tion should pre­serve the sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers and the integri­ty of the insti­tu­tions of state.

7. The Coun­cil not­ed that these issues will play a major role in ensur­ing a suc­cess­ful and irre­versible tran­si­tion and in shap­ing the inter­na­tion­al community’s long term com­mit­ment in Afghanistan. In the Inter­na­tion­al Afghanistan Con­fer­ence in Bonn on 5 Decem­ber 2011, the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty will take stock of the tran­si­tion process, lay the foun­da­tion for inter­na­tion­al long-term engage­ment, and dis­cuss the polit­i­cal process in Afghanistan as well as its region­al aspects. Progress on pre­vi­ous com­mit­ments tak­en on by Afghanistan is rel­e­vant to this debate.

8. The Coun­cil express­es its will­ing­ness to nego­ti­ate an ambi­tious and bal­anced EUAfghanistan agree­ment reflect­ing its long-term com­mit­ment to the country’s devel­op­ment as well as the prin­ci­ples and con­di­tions on which the future part­ner­ship will be based. It invites the EEAS and the Com­mis­sion to draft a nego­ti­a­tion man­date for a coop­er­a­tion agree­ment ahead of the Bonn Conference.

9. Appro­pri­ate resources need to be made avail­able to fund the EU’s future action in Afghanistan, includ­ing for the coor­di­nat­ed imple­men­ta­tion of the EU Action Plan, both by Mem­ber States and by the EU. As the Plan spec­i­fies, it will also be impor­tant for the EU and Mem­ber States to fur­ther align their devel­op­ment activ­i­ties to the pri­or­i­ties iden­ti­fied by the Afghan gov­ern­ment. At the same time, how­ev­er, the EU expects the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty as a whole as well as Afghanistan to address these chal­lenges. It is there­fore all the more impor­tant that coor­di­na­tion mech­a­nisms such as the Joint Coor­di­na­tion and Mon­i­tor­ing Board should increase their effec­tive­ness and that the UNAMA con­tin­ue to play a cen­tral role. The EU rec­og­nizes that coor­di­na­tion on the ground with all inter­na­tion­al actors, includ­ing NATO, under Afghan lead­er­ship, will be nec­es­sary to meet our com­mon goals.

10. In this con­text the EU reit­er­ates the impor­tance of its work on sub-nation­al gov­er­nance, civ­il ser­vice and civil­ian police train­ing and capac­i­ty build­ing, and the rule of law, as fore­seen in the EU Action Plan. The EU decid­ed to rein­force its sup­port, in close coop­er­a­tion with the UN and the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty, for reform of the elec­toral sys­tem and the strength­en­ing of the inde­pen­dent elec­toral insti­tu­tions. The Coun­cil also favours enhanced coop­er­a­tion between the EU insti­tu­tions and the Afghan Par­lia­ment, as well as with Afghan civ­il society. 

11. The EU remains com­mit­ted to sup­port­ing the Afghan police and to help­ing improve the qual­i­ty of the ser­vice it pro­vides. The Coun­cil will con­sid­er how this can best be done by the EU and, as part of this, the Coun­cil decid­ed to look into the devel­op­ment of a post-2013 strat­e­gy for EUPOL AFGHANISTAN.

12. It stress­es, fur­ther­more, that the coun­ter­part of an effec­tive Afghan police force is an effec­tive and trans­par­ent jus­tice sys­tem. Afghanistan should hon­our its com­mit­ments to the reform of the jus­tice sec­tor and to strength­en the rule of law. The EU will con­tin­ue to play an impor­tant role in this effort.

13. Pro­duc­tion and traf­fick­ing of drugs and pre­cur­sors remain a major threat to the sta­bil­i­ty and gov­er­nance of Afghanistan and con­tin­ue to be a major source of rev­enue for the insur­gency. This has a direct impact on areas such as agri­cul­ture, health and polic­ing, and impedes the devel­op­ment of legit­i­mate eco­nom­ic alter­na­tives to the cul­ti­va­tion of opi­um which are more ben­e­fi­cial to the gen­er­al pop­u­la­tion of Afghanistan. The EU accord­ing­ly calls on the Afghan author­i­ties to con­tin­ue to address these issues in a holis­tic way, and on the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty to step up coop­er­a­tion, includ­ing at a region­al lev­el and through the UNODC Paris Pact. The EU is ready to sup­port these efforts, as appropriate.

14. The EU and Mem­ber States intend to engage with the Gov­ern­ment of Afghanistan on migra­tion issues, espe­cial­ly on com­bat­ing and pre­vent­ing ille­gal migra­tion and strength­en­ing coop­er­a­tion on return issues and readmission.

15. Region­al coop­er­a­tion is essen­tial both in the field of secu­ri­ty and of eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment. The EU express­es sup­port for the steps tak­en towards an inten­si­fied dia­logue between Afghanistan and Pak­istan on these mat­ters. It notes the poten­tial for clos­er region­al inte­gra­tion through region­al trade and tran­sit net­works. The EU will sup­port ini­tia­tives to real­ize this poten­tial and to increase pri­vate sec­tor involve­ment in the long-term devel­op­ment strat­e­gy for Afghanistan. The EU under­lined the impor­tance of both the Bonn Con­fer­ence and the forth­com­ing Istan­bul Con­fer­ence in Novem­ber in advanc­ing the region­al agenda.” 

Coun­cil of the Euro­pean Union 

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