EU — 3124th Council meeting Foreign Affairs — Afghanistan/Southern Neighbourhood

Brus­sels, 14 Novem­ber 2011
The Coun­cil pre­pared the EU posi­tion for the inter­na­tion­al con­fer­ence on Afghanistan in Bonn on 5 Decem­ber.

The Coun­cil adopt­ed the fol­low­ing con­clu­sions:

1. “The inter­na­tion­al engage­ment in Afghanistan is evolv­ing from its focus on secu­ri­ty and sta­bi­liza­tion towards polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic coop­er­a­tion. After 2014, a ful­ly sov­er­eign Afghanistan will exer­cise com­plete respon­si­bil­i­ty for its own secu­ri­ty and will strive to trans­form itself into a sta­ble and respon­si­ble mem­ber of the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty, in the ser­vice of all its peo­ple and in full respect of agreed inter­na­tion­al com­mit­ments. To ensure the suc­cess­ful com­ple­tion of these process­es the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty will need to con­tin­ue sup­port­ing Afghanistan on its path from Tran­si­tion to Trans­for­ma­tion.

2. In this con­text, the Coun­cil looks for­ward to Pres­i­dent Karzai’s for­mal announce­ment of the sec­ond tranche of provinces, dis­tricts and cities where full respon­si­bil­i­ty for secu­ri­ty will be trans­ferred to the Afghan author­i­ties, as part of the tran­si­tion process. Near­ly 50% of the peo­ple of Afghanistan live in areas which have been or are expect­ed to be tran­si­tioned.

3. The Inter­na­tion­al Afghanistan Con­fer­ence will be held in Bonn under the chair­man­ship of Afghanistan on 5 Decem­ber 2011. The Coun­cil ful­ly sub­scribes to the aims of the Con­fer­ence, and in par­tic­u­lar that of mobi­liz­ing the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty to stay engaged in Afghanistan in the long term. There­fore, the Coun­cil reit­er­ates the EU’s firm com­mit­ment to remain engaged, as a strong and reli­able part­ner to the Afghan gov­ern­ment and peo­ple, also after tran­si­tion has been com­plet­ed.

4. The Coun­cil also expects the Bonn Con­fer­ence to lay empha­sis on the fur­ther strength­en­ing of Afghan insti­tu­tions of gov­er­nance. It is of the view that if the demo­c­ra­t­ic struc­tures the EU has helped to build are to devel­op and work in a sus­tain­able way they need to have the full sup­port of the Afghan peo­ple, many of whom turned out to vote in the 2009 and 2010 elec­tions in the face of intim­i­da­tion, threats and doubts about the integri­ty of the process.

5. At the same time, Afghanistan needs to show tan­gi­ble results in the imple­men­ta­tion of the Kab­ul Con­fer­ence com­mit­ments in par­tic­u­lar in the fields of gov­er­nance and respect for human rights and the rule of law and as con­cerns the account­able man­age­ment of pub­lic funds. In tak­ing stock of civil­ian aspects of tran­si­tion, the Bonn Con­fer­ence should accord­ing­ly send a clear mes­sage of sup­port while urg­ing the Afghan author­i­ties to show strong lead­er­ship and com­mit­ment and to make rapid progress in these cru­cial domains.

6. There­fore dur­ing the tran­si­tion process lead­ing up to 2014, the EU will, fur­ther to its Con­clu­sions of 18 July 2011 and to the EU Action Plan of Octo­ber 2009, reit­er­ate at Bonn its readi­ness to sup­port Afghanistan, as appro­pri­ate in coor­di­na­tion and coop­er­a­tion with the UN and NATO and oth­er rel­e­vant inter­na­tion­al bod­ies, inter alia through:

  • encour­ag­ing bet­ter over­sight by elect­ed bod­ies at both nation­al and sub­na­tion­al lev­els, in par­tic­u­lar as regards the flows and use of pub­lic finances;
  • in this con­text, assist­ing Afghanistan to ensure that provin­cial and nation­al insti­tu­tions func­tion togeth­er effec­tive­ly and trans­par­ent­ly;
  • rein­forc­ing the role of the par­lia­ment, the judi­cia­ry and audit author­i­ties;
  • pro­mot­ing respect for human rights and fun­da­men­tal free­doms, with a par­tic­u­lar atten­tion to the rights of women;
  • step­ping up its assis­tance for capac­i­ty build­ing, inter alia in the fields of sub­na­tion­al gov­er­nance, civ­il ser­vice, civil­ian polic­ing, the jus­tice sec­tor and elec­toral reform;
  • The Coun­cil agreed to an exten­sion in prin­ci­ple of the man­date of EUPOL Afghanistan until the end of 2014. The Coun­cil also expressed the EU’s com­mit­ment beyond 2014 to sup­port Afghan efforts in strength­en­ing polic­ing and the rule of law.
  • con­tin­u­ing its devel­op­ment coop­er­a­tion with Afghanistan in order to fos­ter eco­nom­ic and social progress and com­bat pover­ty.

The Coun­cil stressed the impor­tance of ade­quate secu­ri­ty for EU pres­ence in Afghanistan and the role of the Afghan author­i­ties in this regard, includ­ing as con­cerns EUPOL.

7. The Coun­cil reit­er­ates that as part of its work on the rule of law, the EU intends to give atten­tion to assist­ing Afghanistan to improve the legal frame­work for pri­vate sec­tor activ­i­ties and in par­tic­u­lar direct invest­ment, with a view to improv­ing the over­all invest­ment cli­mate, there­by reduc­ing as far as pos­si­ble polit­i­cal risk, so pro­mot­ing the con­di­tions for sus­tain­able eco­nom­ic growth.

8. The Coun­cil has adopt­ed a deci­sion autho­ris­ing the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion and the High Rep­re­sen­ta­tive to nego­ti­ate a Coop­er­a­tion Agree­ment on Part­ner­ship and Devel­op­ment with Afghanistan. The man­date specif­i­cal­ly refers to coop­er­a­tion in the fields referred to above as well as a range of areas includ­ing devel­op­ment, counter-ter­ror­ism, counter-nar­cotics, com­bat­ing inter­na­tion­al crime, migra­tion, trade, the envi­ron­ment, includ­ing cli­mate change, and eco­nom­ic and cul­tur­al coop­er­a­tion. For the first time the Agree­ment will cre­ate a coher­ent, legal­ly bind­ing over­all frame­work for the EU’s rela­tions with Afghanistan, set­ting out com­mon val­ues as well as mutu­al rights and oblig­a­tions, so con­sti­tut­ing a long-term com­mit­ment to coop­er­a­tion with Afghanistan up to and beyond 2014.

9. In the con­text of the above­men­tioned prin­ci­ples, the EU will seek to main­tain fund­ing for its coop­er­a­tion and assis­tance pro­grammes to Afghanistan and the region, bilat­er­al­ly as well as through the EU’s bud­get, at least at cur­rent lev­els in the years to come.

10. The EU reit­er­ates its sup­port for Afghan-led rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and rein­te­gra­tion in accor­dance with the con­di­tions set out in the Coun­cil Con­clu­sions of 18 July 2011.

11. The EU notes that the Con­fer­ence on Secu­ri­ty and Coop­er­a­tion in the Heart of Asia, held at Istan­bul on 2 Novem­ber 2011, has, by launch­ing the Istan­bul Process, laid a use­ful basis for a process of polit­i­cal coop­er­a­tion in Afghanistan’s neigh­bour­hood, owned and led by the coun­tries of the region. The EU wel­comes the fol­low-up action agreed at Istan­bul, includ­ing the Con­fi­dence Build­ing Mea­sures pro­posed there and tech­ni­cal meet­ings which will pre­pare the Kab­ul min­is­te­r­i­al meet­ing in 2012. All coun­tries in the region need to par­tic­i­pate in efforts to achieve a peace­ful solu­tion to the con­flict in Afghanistan, thus allow­ing the inter­na­tion­al community’s long-term com­mit­ment to Afghanistan’s devel­op­ment to be suc­cess­ful­ly imple­ment­ed. The EU con­sid­ers that, fun­da­men­tal­ly, it is in the inter­ests of each coun­try in the region to con­tribute to sta­bil­i­ty in Afghanistan.

12. The EU and its Mem­ber States there­fore stand ready to facil­i­tate any ini­tia­tives aimed at rec­on­cil­ing the legit­i­mate inter­ests of Afghanistan’s neigh­bours, through active diplo­ma­cy. The Coun­cil reit­er­ates that it is vital that all coun­tries in the region and beyond accept that Afghanistan must be allowed to seek the way to peace with­out out­side inter­fer­ence. The EU is ready, should the Gov­ern­ment of Afghanistan so wish, to pro­vide any prac­ti­cal assis­tance in fur­ther­ing region­al coop­er­a­tion.

13. In the course of the bilat­er­al or mul­ti­lat­er­al dis­cus­sions fol­low­ing the Istan­bul con­fer­ence, all coun­tries of the region should also be encour­aged to open up trade, tran­sit and invest­ment pos­si­bil­i­ties for Afghanistan, and, through Afghanistan, for each oth­er. Inter­na­tion­al stan­dards and cri­te­ria should as far as pos­si­ble pro­vide a basis for this. Rel­e­vant inter­na­tion­al bod­ies such as WTO, WCO, ICAO and oth­ers could play a very use­ful role in fol­low­ing up.

14. The Coun­cil con­sid­ers that the UN can play a cen­tral role in sup­port­ing any com­mit­ments entered into by the coun­tries in the region in all these areas.”