Council conclusions on Afghanistan

The Council adopted the following conclusions:

“1.) The Council discussed developments in Afghanistan and EU efforts on the ground on the basis of the Action Plan for Enhanced EU Engagement in Afghanistan and Pakistan, adopted in October 2009. The discussion took place in the presence of Mr. Vygaudas USACKAS, who today was appointed as single representative of the EU in Afghanistan, taking up office from 1 April 2010. His appointment as both the Special Representative of the EU and Head of the EU Delegation in Kabul is a further step to strengthen coordinated EU action on the ground, working in close cooperation with other international actors. EU efforts will be spearheaded under Mr. Usackas‘ leadership, who will guide the implementation of the Action Plan, in close cooperation with Member States‘ representatives in Kabul. The Council expressed sincere appreciation to outgoing EU Special Representative, Ettore Sequi, and outgoing Head of the EU Delegation, Hansjörg Kretschmer, for their outstanding work over the past years.

2.) The Council reiterated that the internal security situation remained a direct challenge to the stability of Afghanistan. The Council underlined its continued support for international civilian efforts in Afghanistan, emphasising the central coordination role of UNAMA and reaffirming its support for the UN mandate and the objectives of ISAF. The key to delivering the civilian efforts will be enhanced coordination and the development of a coherent approach between all major civilian actors, notably the EU Special Representative, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General and the NATO Senior Civilian Representative, under the leadership of the Government of Afghanistan. The Council underlined the importance of Afghan ownership and leadership.

3.) The Council emphasised its support for the outcomes of the London Conference of 28 January 2010 and reiterated that all efforts must now focus on implementing the commitments made there, including with regards to the announced Peace and Reintegration Trust Fund to finance the Afghanled Peace and Reintegration Programme. The Council underlined the significance of balanced, Afghan-led reconciliation and reintegration processes as key elements of a sustainable political solution in Afghanistan. In this respect, the Council welcomed the organisation of a Peace Jirga, scheduled to take place this Spring. The Council also welcomed recent contacts between leaders in the region aimed at confidence building. It looks forward to a second successful ad hoc Summit between the EU and Pakistan on 21 April 2010.

4.) The Council discussed the Kabul Conference, which should follow up the commitments made in London. The Kabul Conference will provide an opportunity for the Afghan Government to chart the way forward, notably on anti-corruption, reinforced security, effective and impartial governance, economic and social development, human rights and improved electoral processes. The EU expects that the Government of Afghanistan will act swiftly and decisively to deliver on the promises made to its people. Through its Action Plan, the European Union in cooperation with UNAMA and other international partners, continues to provide long-term assistance to Afghanistan in institution building and civilian capacity programmes, including at sub-national level. The Council expects to discuss a first report on the progress of implementation of the Action Plan next month.

5.) The Council stressed the importance of credible, inclusive and secure parliamentary elections in Afghanistan reflecting the will of the people. Recalling the recommendations of the EU Election Observation Mission to the Presidential Elections of 2009 and the commitments made at the London Conference to ensure the integrity of the elections, the Council urged the Government of Afghanistan to proceed without further delay with reforms to the electoral process to safeguard the impartiality, independence and integrity of the electoral institutions, notably the Independent Election Commission and the Electoral Complaints Commission, in close cooperation with the SRSG of the UN. The Council emphasised that only structural reforms will make any support extended to the electoral process by the international community fully effective. The Council will continue to closely follow preparations for the upcoming parliamentary elections.”