Remarks by President Charles Michel following his visit to the Madrid’s reception centre for EU’s Afghan staff evacuated from Kabul

first of all, I would like to express our support, our gratitude to you Pedro, to your government, to your leadership. Because your decision to take this initiative immediately is a signal of dignity, of European dignity. This political project, the European Union, is based on fundamental principles and values: unity, solidarity, human rights. That is why it was so important to demonstrate our clear solidarity to those people in Afghanistan who helped us and the member states to promote our values, to defend our interests during the last years. I would like to express on behalf of the European Union, together with Ursula, all our gratitude, dear Pedro, because the decision taken by your government immediately, with the mobilization of the various ministerial departments, in close cooperation with the High Representative Josep Borrell, is fundamental because it shows the clear choice of dignity and solidarity of the European Union. We are facing a geopolitical crisis, tragic, difficult circumstances, overwhelming images. A few moments ago, together, we met families torn apart because in a few hours they were torn from their homeland, from their land, with a new horizon and a new life, with children we have met. And this ability to act quickly is essential. And in the short term, we will continue with the High Representative, with our international partners, to work in the coming hours to try to guarantee the safe repatriation of those who choose to leave Afghanistan given the circumstances. they are facing. It is also a medium-term subject that we will have to tackle very quickly together with the Member States and our international partners. I had the opportunity to meet with the Secretary General of NATO, the Secretary General of the United Nations. There will be a G7 meeting next week in which we will participate as the European Union. These are the efforts of the international community to try, in these geopolitical circumstances, to defend principles in which we believe. And Pedro, you mentioned the work for 20 years which has helped to sow seeds of freedom, seeds of dignity, seeds of generosity in Afghanistan. We are going to have to work to make sure that all of this is not lost. So there are messages sent by the Taliban regime. These are the actions that will count and we will have to be engaged in trying to continue to reduce terrorist threats. It is fundamental to guarantee security, to guarantee stability. We will have to work to guarantee what founds the European project: this fundamental belief that respect for human rights, especially women’s rights, the rights of young girls, that the progress that has been made can be confirmed and consolidated. It’s not going to be simple, we are not naive, we are lucid. We can see what the threats are and what the obstacles are. And we will also have to consider issues related to migration. We are well aware that migration issues are always difficult subjects all over the world. It is also a difficult subject within the European Union. And certainly, the approach which must consist in developing partnerships with third countries will also be the subject of the debates that we will have at the start of the European Council with the European Commission. This in order to address strategies for regular, orderly migration capabilities. And so that we find this balance between the dignity of the European project, which is central to me, and the ability to defend European interests, to guarantee security. This is the message I wanted to send to you. In short, Spain has once again clearly and clearly demonstrated its ambition and its pro-European commitment. There was no doubt about the subject, but this immediate, rapid act on the part of Spain was a way of ensuring that the European Union was in a position to assume its moral duty in the face of to such difficult geopolitical circumstances. Thank you for that.

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